What the Norman Rea Gallery means to me: The Director, Grace Frazer
Before writing this article I asked a selection of people what the Norman Rea Gallery means to them. The following are the responses I received:
Michael White Head of History of Art
“Whenever I think I can no longer be surprised by the students, the Norman Rea Gallery puts on a show I would never have thought to see at the University. It has been the most incredible laboratory for emerging curators, with many of those involved with it going on to careers in the field. What does the Norman Rea Gallery mean to me? Energy, creativity and the unexpected.”
Natasha Rose Previous Director 2016-2017
“Arriving at University I was looking for something to commit my time and energy to. Studying a subject with low contact hours resulted in me feeling a bit lost and at times lonely in my first year. Joining the Norman Rea helped both of these problems spectacularly as I suddenly had an inviting group to belong to and a sense of purpose to my free time. During my three years at the gallery I gained genuine work experience, amazing opportunities and most importantly, lasting friendships. Having graduated, I am now living in London with Ellen, a friend who I met through the gallery, and I will be starting a job at a top advertising firm this September... I owe a lot of my present success and happiness to the people who made the Norman Rea Gallery.”
Tascha von Uexkull Head of blog 2017-2018
“Being a part of the Norman Rea Gallery allowed me to play an important role in a creative community and take a leadership position, as well as working in a team. It provided a great many challenges, but the highs were wonderful, and I will never forget the view of people coming to appreciate my exhibition.”
Ellie Griffin Member of the Gallery since 2017
“Being a member of the Norman Rea Gallery I was able to participate in various exhibitions. Last year I was a member of the exhibition team for ‘Earthly Delights’. I really enjoyed this experience as I was able to explore and curate a range of art works- including photographs, paintings, sculpture and graphic designs- with a group of people from different courses and at different stages of study. The gallery for me is a place to meet new people through a dialogue and setting of art.”
Me, Grace Frazer Director 2018-2019
“The Norman Rea Gallery has become an environment where everyone and anyone can express their creativity. Artists, writers, film-makers, curators are all able to channel their expression through the gallery. Over the course of this coming year, our programme encompasses ideas relevant to society today including exhibitions on commerciality and gender. The committee is excited to celebrate the gallery’s 10 year anniversary. Members will be encouraged to participate in a show reflecting on a momentous journey, a journey that new members will be central to.
Exhibitions are accompanied by various social events. I remember visiting my first exhibition opening at the Norman Rea Gallery. After tackling my way around Derwent College, not knowing where anything was, using the Courtyard as a reference point I found the gallery. Greeted by groups of diverse people and of course a free glass wine (always a bonus), I was able to enjoy the art displayed. Hearing discussion around me ranging from “it’s interesting how the paint has been applied” to “honestly, I don’t think I've ever had such a bad hang over, Revs was so packed last night”, I immediately felt comfortable. Over the course of this next year, the committee has planned events from coffee hang outs, nights out, workshops in the gallery and museum visits. I hope that all members are able to experience the comfort and welcome I felt on that initial opening.
From the responses I got from the various individuals for this article, it is clear the impact the gallery has had on so many university experiences. Getting involved with the gallery enhances social and professional interactions in later life. Previous members now work at various galleries nationally and internationally.
For me, the gallery is a community. Yes, the space acts as way to display art, but the range of people who engage in the gallery make the space. The students of York, from History of Art students to Biology students, all of whom are members, are able to use the gallery as a way of creating a dialogue. I hope that over the next year the gallery develops, where new members and old members create new traditions and challenge concepts. I hope that during my time as director I am able to assist the continuing adventure of the Norman Rea and I feel honoured to be part of its journey.”