Alumni Interview Series: Sebastian Henry-Jones

Updated: May 3

Dr Mimi Kelly with alumnus Sebastian Henry Jones, part-time Associate Curator at West Space and Curatorial Assistant at the Biennale of Sydney.

In our second Alumni Interview for GLAM@Sydney, we zoom in with Sebastian Henry Jones. Seb graduated with a Master of Art Curating in 2018, and is currently based in Melbourne. He works part-time as Associate Curator at the established Artist-Run Initiative West Space and Curatorial Assistant for the Biennale of Sydney, as well as maintaining an independent curating and writing practice.

Seb sat down to chat with Dr Mimi Kelly over Zoom, providing some valuable pointers and tips for navigating the arts industry and how those just starting out can position themselves in relation to it. Seb also talks to the benefits of formal education and how the expertise that he developed through the Master of Art Curating course, for example, complemented a passion for the GLAM sector to holistically benefit his career.

Please excuse the abrupt cut-off at the end. Once again, Mimi rambled on a bit, which was enthusiastic but not necessary for the interview...

Looking back, what I really benefited from [in my] formal education was writing skills ... [Today,] I use these skills for everything, whether it be writing an essay for an artist, a press release or promotional material for an exhibition, or a programme that's coming up … For me ,writing was so important to really get right when I was at university and even though you learn a very ... academic way of writing, I think it's a really good place to start, and then you can start playing around with it as you get older. My advice if you want to have a job in the arts after your degree … is try doing something in your own time that allows you to put what you're learning in university into practice, whether that be organising an exhibition with friends, trying to make a newsletter or writing reviews about shows. I would encourage everyone to go to artists run spaces … really try and meet older people in the industry. I couldn't stress more the importance of having informal, almost mentorships or relationships with people that have followed [a similar trajectory] … I guess, holistically, it comes down to having that formal training at university but also having a practice outside of that [which] allows you to very pragmatically learn.

A very big thank you to Seb for taking the time to be interviewed for GLAM@Sydney!

Sebastian Henry-Jones is a curator led by an interest in writing, DIY thinking. He looks to centre the needs, ideas and requirements of those that he works with, and so his practice is informed by striving for a personal ethics with sincerity, generosity, honest communication and learning at its core. Seb is the curator at West Space and curatorial assistant at the Biennale of Sydney.

Dr Mimi Kelly is a lecturer in the Art History Department, teaching within the undergraduate program and Master of Art Curating.

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