Rosie Henniker-Major, MGC, 2000 Leaver

Malvern Alumnae 100 Rosie Oconnor

At MGC my two favourite subjects were Art and History, and I’d always planned to read History at university, but during Sixth form an art lecturer came in twice and spoke firstly about Picasso’s Guernica and secondly about Chagall. This lit a spark of interest which was heightened during my Gap Year when I attended an eight week pre-university History of Art course in Italy. I subsequently applied and was accepted to read History of Art at Edinburgh, which was brilliant as the courses offered were very diverse.

During my penultimate year at Edinburgh, on a family holiday I was talking to a cousin about not knowing what to do next, and he suggested the Graduate Internship at Christie’s where he worked with early British paintings. Luckily I was successful and joined Christie’s Furniture Department in September 2005, moving to the Country House Collections Department the following year. This was a fabulous introduction into life at Christie’s as the Collections department sell the entire contents of houses for clients so we were involved with all the various departments, chasing estimates and amended cataloguing; I gained a great insight into how the company worked.

In September 2006 I got my first proper job as Sale Administrator for British Drawings and Watercolours. This involved working with the Specialists to win consignments, put catalogues together and help sell the sales. A few years later I moved into a Junior Specialist position in the department, and then in 2012 I moved into the Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art department as a Specialist.

Highlights of my job are getting to visit clients in their homes to see their art collections, to provide insurance valuations or for business-getting purposes, which gives me an insight into how collections are formed and why. It’s wonderful to talk to people who’re interested in what I’m interested in, and this is also the case once our sales go on view and clients come in to see what we have on offer. The job is constantly challenging and exciting, both in terms of the tight deadlines for the sales catalogues, but also because there are always new things to learn about the artists we handle. I seem to be one of the lucky ones; although the pay is abysmal, I genuinely love what I do on a day-to-day basis!

What does success look like?

Achieving a sense of pride and achievement in what you’re doing. It doesn’t mean you have to be running the company, just feeling fulfilled by what you’ve accomplished so far and looking forward to the next challenges.

What is your best piece of advice?

Although primarily extremely enjoyable, working in the art world can be incredibly turbulent, depending on the success of the art market, so you have to be prepared to be flexible in your job, whilst maintaining the determination it takes to succeed.

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