It’s not every Tuesday evening you are given a private tour of a neo-Gothic mansion, but that’s what we were treated to when we went to speak to Rebecca Hone, Exhibition Coodinator at Two Temple Place. Tucked behind the vast halls and grand corridors, we settled into a cosy tea room full of chairs from different decades, and spoke about art, ambition and achieving dreams.
Tell us how you came to be working in art.
I’ve always worked hard but I’ve had a lot of luck, too. I knew I wanted to work with art, and quickly came to realise that I liked other people’s much more than my own. Art had been my favourite subject at school, and I’d always been creative (my brother and I seem to have split genes; he does all the academic stuff and I do the art) though it’s taken me a bit of time to realise exactly what part of the art world I wanted to be in.
When I was volunteering, I was doing lots of educational stuff – I think art in education is really important. It’s good for your well-being, and that doesn’t just have to be in visual art. The physical act of creating is therapeutic. Anyone who is creative knows it, and it’s so frustrating there are so many people in the world that don’t realise the importance of art and creativity in expressing themselves. The act of sewing, the act of writing prose or poetry: all of those things can be therapeutic. On a day to day basis to keep yourself sane, or as a life transforming therapy, it’s incredibly valuable – that is what should be taught in school.
My first paid job was at the Jerwood Gallery, which was much more front of house – and I realised there that I love working with people, talking to people. I then moved to Kent where, at Mascalls Gallery as the Curator, I had to do a bit of everything, which made me realise what I liked doing and what I liked less. This job [as Exhibition Coordinator at Two Temple Place] is focussing all of that.
What is your favourite part of the job? (Seeing how amazing this building is, I feel it might come into this.)
The building is amazing! But the people make it wonderful. You’re so lucky if you gel with your colleagues, and everyone does here. We support each other and can just fire off ideas – you’re not made to feel like you can’t ask questions.
It’s also amazing to be working on such a big project and collaborating with people from regional public galleries and national galleries, as well as private collectors – doing a bit of discovery and showing these amazing objects that haven’t been seen in public. That’s always so exciting. Then it’s going to be bringing the exhibition here – it arrives in January and opens on the 28th. It’s going to be the busiest few weeks of my life but it’s going to be so exciting.
Talking about how hard work can also feel great – would you consider yourself ambitious? What do you think that means now, and how do you think people perceive it?
I think sometimes ambition can be seen as throwing everyone out the way to get to the top, and that’s definitely not my personality, but I am very ambitious to challenge myself. I want to be proud of what I do, and I want others to be proud of what I do, in the way I’m proud of my friends and family. I think ambition is not necessarily just a fight to get to the top in your job – you can just be ambitious to have a happier life.
We’ve been talking about hopes, dreams and ambitions all month for our November theme, WISH. What do you think drives you? What’s important to you at work?
The people around me, and the organisation I work for. I feel fortunate that I’ve always been close to the people I’ve worked with, and want to do good things for them. Really cheesily, it is also art that motivates me. I believe in what art does for people. Not necessarily everyone knows they like art; there are people that are unsure of it and challenged by it, but I think art should challenge you. Not because you don’t understand it – it could be an emotional challenge, art that moves you in some way. I think that in general drives me to want to make it accessible and open to the public.
Do you remember what you thought life at twenty-something would be like when you were younger? Do you remember a specific wish, or dream?
I used to want to be a farmer’s wife when I was really small . . . I’m not there yet but it could still happen! It’s weird that I remember wanting to be a farmer’s wife, but I don’t remember knowing the job I really wanted to end up in. I think because I just wanted to think of myself as doing well, being successful, and being happy. I probably thought I would have a lot more under my belt by the age I am now but actually – there’s no pressure. I don’t feel like there’s any pressure to be settled or know everything – it’s more about making sure you’re happy and comfortable in life.
Big or small, is there anything you are wishing for right now, or is there anything on your wish list?
So many things! As part of the exhibition for next year, we’re looking at Sussex Modernism. There was a chap called Edward James – a writer and patron of artists who let Salvador Dali live in his house and commissioned him to make lots of artwork – and he commissioned this amazing sculpture, a town almost, in the jungle in Mexico. I’d really love to go and visit it, to go on a pilgrimage to see that. We went years ago to see an artist in Suffolk, just a one day pilgrimage, but there are lots of things all around the world I’d like to see, art-wise and architecturally.
Right now, my wish with work is to do really well with this exhibition. We open in January so it’s lots of work up until then – little things, like hoping and praying that this one sculpture that we’re allowed to borrow actually turns up, and that we work out how to set up Henry Moore upstairs. Things like that.
And, I really want to start either learning a language – French, or Icelandic, or sign language – or ceramics! I’d love to do something like that, something creative.
The next exhibition in the Two Temple Place Winter Exhibition Programme will be Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion, opening on 28th January.
All the beautiful photos in this piece were taken by photographer Libby Earland. Find more of Libby’s work here: cargocollective.com/Libby_Earland. Libby has also written for Dear Damsels. Ode to My Underwater Camera is about her first camera.