Graduate interns set up new art venture

Two interns who successfully completed their internship at The Public in West Bromwich have set up a new arts venture.

Gemma Hadley and Allen Lowe

Gemma Hadley and Allen Lowe

Gemma Hadley, aged 24, from Brierley Hill and Allen Lowe, aged 24 from Dudley joined The Public’s internship programme in 2010 after graduating from their degree courses.

Gemma studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Hereford College of Arts and graduated in 2009 and went on to successfully run the project Pretty Vacant – an initiative to put art into empty shops across the Black Country region. Gemma joined The Public as an intern in September 2011 and worked three days a week for six months until April 2011. Gemma continued to work with the Exhibitions team until mid July 2011 to project manage The Public’s Summer Exhibition.

Gemma said: “I was really excited about The Public and came to visit the building when it was being built. My grandparents were also really interested and encouraged me to apply for any opportunities available.

I enjoyed the experience as every day you got the chance to do something different and get a taster of all the spectrums of exhibitions as well as preparing for some of the learning workshops.”

Allen graduated from Staffordshire University in 2010 with a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree and joined the internship programme in September 2010. Allen worked three days a week for six months, and finished in February 2011.

Allen said: “The Public was ideal as it was an up and coming venue that is well known among new and emerging artists. I liked the idea of an internship where you can tailor it to what you’re interested in.”

Both wanted to gain an insight into the Arts and valuable work experience at The Public.

The role involved research and planning for new exhibitions, seeking new artists to get involved in submitting work for exhibitions like The Public’s Summer Exhibition, as well as planning and curating major exhibitions like Martin Parr – Black Country Stories, Maurice Broomfield and The Art of Invention, and Screening 2011.

The former interns felt it was important to take ownership of the projects and exhibitions they were involved in to get the most out of the experience and contribute to The Public’s Arts and Exhibitions programme. Both benefitted from the internship and would recommend it to other graduates with a passion for the Arts.

Allen went on to say: “There is a great deal of planning and preparation that goes into planning and delivering exhibitions, behind the scenes. It took a lot of hard work and time but it was worth it when you see the final product – the exhibition.”

Gemma added: “I have really enjoyed my time at The Public, my advice to anyone considering an internship at The Public is don’t sit and wait for things to be handed to you. Treat it like a job, you get out what you put it so you need to be proactive and committed to the projects your involved in.

Pushing yourself forward helps you get acknowledged. It’s been a great experience as I’ve had the chance to learn about the essential aspects of putting together an exhibition in a community building.”

Allen and Gemma have now gone on to set up their own exhibition management company ‘INNATE’ – Innovative Art Exhibitions, an evolving art gallery beyond physical limitations which seeks to explore and promote Contemporary Art. INNATE supports local artists to exhibit in touring exhibitions across the West Midlands and most recently supported The Public’s Summer Exhibition.

Gemma added: “People miss the creative environment at University and are looking for affordable studio space. We are trying to find venues to exhibit work and looking for permanent studio space. We are also building a network of artists and want to constantly improve our practice.

“We’re looking to eventually find a permanent or possibly long-term temporary venue where we’ll be able to offer both exhibition and affordable studio space and nurture a local creative network.”

For more information on INNATE Projects visit: or email: [email protected].

If you would more information on The Public’s internships programme, visit or call 0121 533 7161.