As a follow on to Quality Street, Nottingham Contemporary’s major youth led evaluation project for the Plus Tate initiative, I was invited to attend a pilot project called Generations by Chrissie Tiller from Goldsmiths and Emily Pringle, Head of Learning and Research at Tate Modern, London.
Generations aims to open spaces for shared learning between 12 women from different age groups, working broadly in the field of learning at galleries and museums across the UK. The first seminar took place in 2011 in Amsterdam with 12 women Europe working in the cultural sector exploring the same themes. The seminar was so successful they decided to set up another intergenerational group in the UK.
Taking place across one and an half days, this is the first time I have attended an exclusively women only seminar where you have the opportunity to reflect on your life, career and practice. Participants were given the opportunity to discuss career challenges from juggling motherhood, achieving work life balance to discussing the difficulties facing those young women at the beginning of their career.
Other topics for discussion included issues of work/life balance, turning points in your life and the experience of women working in the cultural sector in Europe. Reflecting on my own personal turning point back in 1999, moving from Norwich to Nottingham after the gallery I worked at closed and deciding to move to Nottingham with no job. It did make me think could I ever make such a brave decision again. I do hope so. It really was very humbling experience to hear how brave, courageous and independently minded women always have to be in their career choices.
What would I take back to Learning at Nottingham Contemporary?
For me it’s the opportunity to perhaps take time to reflect on our roles as women in the cultural sector. This could be included during learning team meetings or actually between departments. The majority of the staff at Nottingham Contemporary are women with a wide range of ages and career levels. I would also like to use the intergenerational approach and sharing as an exercise. I often deliver gallery talk’s and this method could be used as a good icebreaker for particular groups (in pairs) in response to the art work.
For the next phase of the project we are aiming to evaluate the feedback and ways forward from the UK group of women. The UK group all keen to continue with this supportive network and link with our European counterparts through a closed Facebook page. This virtual space will be an opportunity to debate and share issues raised during the meetings, suggest background reading on intergenerational learning and provide useful external links. I’m really looking forward to the next phase of Generations and the possibilities.