Matthew Rowe charts his career path in the visual arts.
Director firstsite (from 2013)
I am looking forward to leading firstsite to realise its full potential as a centre of excellence for the visual arts. The organisation reopened in an outstanding new building in September 2011 courtesy of generous Lottery and public and private funding support. I hope that my experience of leading Towner through its development and first three and a half years of operation and my time at Tate St Ives during its first five years will help firstsite to build local support, whilst furthering its national and international ambitions.
Artistic Director Towner (1999-2013)
The position of Curator (Visual Arts) at Towner offered the opportunity to programme contemporary exhibitions whilst developing a permanent art collection. I inherited a proposal to relocate Towner from its ageing Manor House to a new purpose-built location beside Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park. We submitted applications to funding bodies to support the Council’s investment towards a £8.6m project. We appointed Rick Mather Architects to start the design process and we visited several small new gallery buildings in Europe. This both clarified my love of concrete and strengthened our shared architectural ambitions, which was crucial during the inevitable ‘value engineering’ process. To make the case for investment locally we developed an outreach programme in 2000 which has become one of the leading sustained visual arts outreach programmes in the UK, winning Beacon Status for the Council in 2006. We consistently increased visitor numbers (reaching a record 110,000 in 2012-13) whilst delivering exceptional value for money, which was recognised when Arts Council England doubled Towner’s revenue funding in March 2011.
Visual Arts & Crafts Manager South West Arts (1998-1999)
During this one-year secondment I managed the relationships with several Arts Council funded organisations in the south west region, co-ordinated the Annual Artists Awards, developed the Artist Led Initiative Advisory Service, and assessed Lottery and other grant applications, all of which was invaluable experience for managing my own venue.
Assistant Curator Tate St Ives (1993-1998)As a penniless art history post graduate I volunteered as an invigilator in July 1993, a month after Tate St Ives opened. My dissertation had been on post-war British art so I began to assist the Director to research the historical displays. This led to an internship in Curatorial Research and Works of Art Management, through which I was trained by specialist departments of Tate, in order to establish procedures of national standard in a regional setting, eventually becoming Assistant Curator in 1996.
Saleroom Manager W.H.Lane & Son Auctioneers (1988-1992)
This started as a paid job in my year off before University, introduced me to the artists of the Newlyn and St Ives Schools and led to me to change my History degree to History / History of Art.
Matthew Rowe is the new Director of firstsite, the contemporary visual art gallery in Colchester.