Reflections from U-Jazdowski, Warsaw. Part One
Della Hill, our Development and Communications Officer, spent a month in Warsaw working with U-Jazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA). We’ve asked Della to give us an insight into her weekly schedule, and she will document her experience in 4 blogs.
Diary Entry #1 – Wednesday 22nd August 18
What have you done?
The past 3 days have been a whirl-wind of an experience already. Elena Schmitz, The Head of Programmes is joining for the first few days of the placement with the aim of making international connections on behalf of Literature Wales. From the moment we landed, we were meeting different members of staff, seeing different parts of the city and discovering that Polish food is amazing! I currently sit under the Education and Audience Development Team, but it looks like I will be doing some more work with other departments at CCA.
I am staying in the CCA Residencies Building, so I suppose it would be similar to Literature Wales’ Ty Newydd Writing Centre. What’s great about this is that the commute to work is amazing, a mere 30 second walk instead of an hour long journey. The team members at the Castle have been very welcoming, and they’ve also been very interested in hearing more about UK-based Art Organisations. Literature Wales has a team of 21 people, and here there are roughly 80 team members in CCA alone, and this doesn’t include the work force from the two on-site restaurants and the café! It’s been really interesting meeting the different departments. So far, I have spoken to the Promotions, Publishing, Audience Development and Education and the International Partnerships departments and this has been a really useful way for the management team to round the work that their team does in short meetings (which have taken place outside in the sunny weather at the café!).
What kinds of experiences have you had?
One of the top experiences that I have had this week is having an introductory dinner organised by the British Council Poland. The key staff from CCA were there, and this was a really lovely chance to have informal conversations and get to know my new colleagues. There were also a few individuals who are involved in the Polish Literary scene, writers and festival organisers, and it was really interesting compare the ways of working between Wales and Poland and surprisingly there were many common grounds.
What skills have you developed?
I think it’s too early into the placement to reflect on the skills that I have developed, but throughout the placement I would really like to build on the skillset I have. I hope working with the Education and Audience Development Department will develop my knowledge and skillset in working with International children and young people. I think that by working with the Promotions team, I will gain more insight into how a Communications Department navigates in other counties, and I also think that the Publishing Department, who make the visual guides for the exhibitions, will enable to me to learn more about communicating information to a specific audience.
What have you found difficult?
I suppose there was a little bit of culture shock when I first arrived. I was very nervous to meet everyone and see the work that they were expecting me to complete, but these nerves disappeared by the end of the first night, and I was able to completely relax and dedicate my attention to learning more about CCA and how the organisation ran.
Before arriving, I was also a little scared about working in a Contemporary Arts Centre because I have had limited experience and exposure to this Art Form. Prior to arriving, I met with the Cardiff-based g39 Contemporary Arts Organisation to find out a little bit more about the behind-the-scenes logistics of an organisation. However, since I’ve arrived, I’ve been introduced to popular international artists that have worked with CCA and have a presence in the UK. I’ve also had a tour around the current exhibitions which has contextualised the work that the artists have created. I’m really looking forward to learning more about Contemporary Art and the cross-overs that the form has with Literature.