Laura Egerton talks about loving her career

Art buff Laura Egerton tells us about the path that led her to this covetable position and the highs and lows of working with creative types

Laura Egerton
Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM
“In my job you need to be flexible (yes, in a yoga sense) because you never know when you might find yourself climbing a ladder to install an artwork.”
Aquarius

Always follow your dreams, even if the odds aren’t on your side...
“As a child I had a passion for visiting museums and exhibitions and learning about how objects told a story. I remember being particularly struck by the works of artists like Henri Matisse… I also enjoyed visiting the Young British Artists’ (YBAs’) displays. But because I didn’t enjoy art at school and was terrible at drawing I never thought I would be able to pursue a career in the art world. It wasn’t until around the age of 16 that I realised that I could love and work with art, without making anything myself, so I applied to study History of Art at university.”

Look for an opportunity…
 “After graduating I did two internships – firstly at Christie’s and then at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. I would highly recommend both places to anyone wanting a career in curating. I then got my big break from John Martin, one of the founders of Art Dubai.”

To do my job…
“I deal directly with artists, so in my line of work I need to be open and friendly. It’s also imperative to have a strong understanding of contemporary art. The knowledge I built up at university has given me a breadth of understanding and a range of skills that I still find useful today, but I also keep up to speed with new exhibitions and events through online publications and print media. The Art Newspaper and artforum.com are both key sources of information, and for art news specifically related to the Middle East I look to the pages of Bidoun, Canvas, Art Asia Pacific and Ibraaz.”

My advice to others is…
 “In my job you need to be flexible (yes, in a yoga sense) because you never know when you might find yourself climbing a ladder to install an artwork. Fortunately I won’t be doing that for a while as I’m five months pregnant, but ordinarily it comes with the territory. I’d also advise being adaptable because this is more than a full-time job. To work in this industry you have to absolutely believe in it and love what you do. Luckily, I do.”

I take inspiration from…
“I am the ‘constant’ year-round curator for the Art Prize, so I work with artists on their works. I find it inspiring when I meet someone who really connects with where they are from and represents their thoughts in a new and fresh way. It’s also moving to come across an artist who has come through a personal setback, yet produced something beautiful. Here in the UAE there are some great up-and-coming talents.”

Job joys

  • “I love the creativity of my job. It’s really inspiring to see projects come to life.”
  • “There is a lot of problem solving involved, but I enjoy that. It’s great to make the most of tricky situations and work out how to make things happen.”
  • “The adrenaline when you are on deadline, like the day before Art Dubai opens, is a real buzz.”

Work woes

  • “Overtime is part and parcel of the job because a lot of the artists, curators and institutions I deal with are based abroad and work in different time zones. Also, a large number of art events happen after hours.”
  • “Working with ‘creatives’ can be a trial because they tend to change their minds a lot.”
  • “Lack of communication can be an issue because things can change quickly in this industry and not everyone is always kept in the loop.”