Monash University’s renowned art galleries, artists and teaching staff lured Eva Balog from Sydney to the Bachelor of Art History and Curating. She found a ‘unique degree’ and a wealth of opportunity for hands-on gallery experience.
What interested you about studying Art History and Curating at Monash University?
I moved from Sydney to pursue the Bachelor of Art History and Curating at Monash, and to be part of a vibrant and dynamic arts community in Melbourne. Being part of the Monash community also gave me access to world-class resources and industry-connected teaching staff. It gave me the opportunity to volunteer and eventually be employed as gallery staff at the Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA).
The exciting thing about the degree was that alongside Art History and Theory, I had the opportunity to undertake fine art studio electives, such as life drawing and screen printing. I felt this was a fantastic way to structure an Art History degree.
What was your favourite part of studying Art History and Curating?
My third-year was enriched by my lecturer/tutor/mentor, Fayen d’Evie. I always had an interest in writing creatively and experimentally and with Fayen’s guidance and encouragement and through two specific units, Art Writing and Criticism and Project Studies I was able to expand my thinking and get back to writing regularly.
The development of this writing practice led to my involvement in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) Writing in the Expanded Field project, as a collaborator. This was an invaluable experience and a year on, I am developing this writing practice to complete a master’s degree in art writing in the future.
The Bachelor of Art History and Curating fosters many experiences. It gave me the confidence to transition from a purely university-based practice to a ‘real-world’ experience.
What’s your current role at Biennale of Sydney?
In second-year I completed my internship at the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018), assisting in installation and audience engagement as an invigilator at Carriageworks and Cockatoo Island. This internship led to my current role as Guest Relations Assistant for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney.
My favourite aspect the role is that I'm working on facilitating this very different and very important Biennale, under the artistic direction of Brook Andrew (Associate Professor in Fine Art at Monash). Brook’s association with Monash was a major drawcard for me when I first applied, so it is fantastic to be working on this Biennale.
As Guest Relations Assistant at the Biennale of Sydney, I am in regular contact with artists, curators, gallery directors and arts workers from all over Australia and the world. This is an important step for me and my career in the arts. My plan is to live and work overseas in the next few years and this experience is invaluable for working towards this.
You’ve had the opportunity to undertake work experience with the Australian Arts Council at the Venice Biennale, as well as MUMA – what was it like working for prominent art organisations?
The highlights of my work experience over the last few years is my time at the Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), working for Niagara Galleries at Sydney Contemporary and my role as Volunteer Exhibition Attendant at the 2019 Venice Biennale.
Almost as soon as I started classes at Monash I began to volunteer at MUMA. I can’t recommend this enough to anyone who is studying at Monash, particularly at Caulfield campus. At MUMA, I had first-hand experience in a gallery and was able to learn from the wonderful team whose skills and experience in curatorial work, public programming, education and arts administration is inspirational.
Being involved at MUMA allowed me to engage directly and at a deep level with exhibitions and artists, with the opportunity to attend walk-throughs, artist talks and exhibition openings. As the first point of contact for visitors to the gallery, it was also a fantastic way to pick up skills in speaking about art.
After I moved back to Sydney, I volunteered and interned at the National Art School Gallery (NAS), an on-campus gallery, prompted by my involvement at MUMA. It was this role that led me to work at Sydney Contemporary art fair as an associate of Melbourne-based Niagara Galleries. My volunteering and intern work at NAS led a staff member to recommend me for the role, which goes to show that any opportunity you are given should be taken because you never know where it could lead!
Working at Sydney Contemporary was fantastic. It gave me a first-hand look at the way different galleries represent and exhibit artists and a great way to engage with arts workers, art collectors and curators from all over Australia.
The opportunity to work at the 58th Venice Biennale at the Australia Arts Council's Australian Pavilion was the most enriching and exceptional experience in my art career to date. The artist/curator team of Angelica Mesiti and Juliana Engberg (Professorial Fellow at Monash Art, Design and Architecture) made the role extra appealing and I was fortunate enough to meet and speak with them whilst in Venice.
Through this experience, I’ve met many people from all over the world, networked, experienced an amazing level of international art and even volunteered as a performer at the Lithuanian Pavilion!
What was it like to live and study in Melbourne?
I had an incredibly positive experience studying at Monash which was enriched by living, working and studying in the city of Melbourne.
The city’s reputation as a global centre of arts filled with universities, artists, studios, galleries and arts events was one of the most important “extra-curricular” aspects during my time at Monash. By tapping into the city, visiting galleries and getting involved in events, I was able to get connect with the wider arts community. The fact that in Melbourne I was able to visit all types of galleries from artist-run spaces to larger institutions led me to understand exactly what I liked, didn’t like and wanted from my own experience of viewing art.
What advice would you give a student wanting to study Art History & Curating?
The most important advice I can give to any student is to take every opportunity given to you, whether it’s a volunteer role, the opportunity to be part of a performance or even to work on a collaborative project with your peers.
Through these experiences, you learn so much and fortify your practice and outlook. Be involved in your local arts community, be engaged with the wider scene in Melbourne, Australia and the world and always been on the lookout for what’s coming up around the bend!