Alumna takes up prestigious Christie's placement in London

6 May 2013

Sarah Vandepeer
Sarah Vandepeer is undertaking a unique placement at Christie's London office. Image courtesy of Miik Green and Hayley Hill.

Recent Master of Art Curatorship alumna, Sarah Vandepeer, has taken her passion for art history all the way to London as winner of a prestigious Christie's internship.

The talented graduate, who also completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in art history and curatorship in 2008, will spend two months in the Impressionist Department at Christie's from May 2013.

The coveted placement was arranged between the University of Sydney and Christie's following the sale of the University's Picasso masterpiece, Jeune fille endormie, by the renowned auction house in June 2011. The placement, to be offered annually over the next 10 years, is open to exceptional honours or postgraduate students with majors in Art History, and is administered by the Department of Art History and Film Studies.

Chair of the Department of Art History and Film Studies and Director of the Power Institute, Professor Mark Ledbury, says the Christie's internship will be an "invaluable opportunity" for Vandepeer.

"Christie's is one of the busiest and most successful auction houses in the world and she will gain first-hand experience of its day-to-day operations," he says. "She will have the chance to gain experiences that may shape a career. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences recognises the special nature of this opportunity and is thus enhancing the internship with a generous package of support for travel and living expenses."

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Duncan Ivison, says the faculty was pleased to be able to collaborate with Christie's to make this exciting opportunity possible for students.

"We are passionate about art as well as giving our students unrivalled learning experiences. The Christie's internship is a wonderful manifestation of both of those commitments," he says.

For Vandepeer, the trip spells the realisation of a near-lifelong dream to pursue a love of art, writing and people.

"I have always known that [art] was my calling; even in pre-school, I wanted to be an artist and a writer," she reflects. "As I matured, I came to understand that I could combine these interests through art history, curating and arts management."

Throughout the breadth of her studies, Vandepeer laid the foundations for success in securing this impressive internship. She blended her studies with part-time work at Beaver Galleries in Canberra before undertaking internship placements at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, where she discovered a love for the commercial sector. While volunteering at the NGA she was approached by art dealer and gallery owner, Stella Downer, and soon after began her latest position at the Stella Downer Fine Art Gallery in Waterloo.

After four years working at the Gallery and specialising in Australian contemporary art, Vandepeer is excited for the challenges and changes ahead in Christie's Impressionist Department.

"The placement is during May and June, which is the high season for Christie's because of their summer sales," she explains. "I haven't been told what I will be doing there, so it is a bit mysterious at this stage, and that adds to the sense of anticipation."

Vandepeer says she also looks forward to harnessing the insights of her Masters degree while in London, equipped with transferable skills obtained through the "wide cross section offered by the course content".

"I think in the arts, one has to be constantly alert to new opportunities," she says. "There isn't always the clear trajectory that is common in other sectors ... What sustains me is a deep commitment to art, artists and the wider appreciation of culture. Without this, I wouldn't have the perseverance that is needed."

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