MA Placement at MIMA: Garima Jha (2020)
Garima Jha was awarded the 2019-20 MA studentship with the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA). The placement was postponed, due to the pandemic, and went ahead remotely in the autumn of 2020. Here, Garima reflects on her placement, which, despite being very different to how it was originally envisaged, was a very positive experience.
I found working at MIMA a truly interesting and enriching experience. It had to take place completely remotely and also later than it was supposed to happen because of the unique circumstances during the pandemic. But the work atmosphere was extremely open and welcoming. I was assigned tasks that gave me an insight into the daily happenings in a gallery. My role was basically to help the assistant curator with administrative tasks like confirming if an artwork had a photograph in the database, along with more research-based tasks like making an object-label for an upcoming exhibition.
I was also entrusted with the task of writing a short article for MIMA's online “Collection Reflection” series. Along with these tasks, Helen Welford, the assistant curator, made sure that I felt like I was a part of the team by encouraging my participation in the weekly meeting and inviting me to sit in on other even more specific meetings: about the upcoming exhibition, for example, that she would be curating as well. All the members of the curatorial team took the time to personally introduce themselves to me during the meetings and told me more about their roles, so I could understand the workplace better.
Since the placement took place remotely, I was working from my hometown, New Delhi, and working with a time difference. It was challenging but also at the same time, a really special experience because it gave me an opportunity to learn how to plan my work-day in a way that was efficient, and simultaneously how to stay cognizant of the work-day in the UK, in case I had a question or if I needed to collaborate on any particular task.
As much as I would have wanted for it to be longer (since it could only happen for one working week), I felt quite fortunate to have had this opportunity, since it almost did not take place because of the pandemic. This was my first time working in the arts field. The sum total of my experiences with MIMA, even under circumstances which were unprecedented and difficult, gave me an idea of what direction I would like to be going towards in my career and a feel of what kind of work I was leaning towards. Working with MIMA had the charm of being a job that encouraged me to learn as much as I could while being productive.