Career Profile:

Rosalind Davis
Artist, Curator, Writer & Teacher

Rosalind is an artist whose central concern is the transformation and reconfiguration of space through multiple disciplines. She dis-assembles the geometries of architecture to re-create new and multifaceted spaces, resulting in environments that probe the relationships between both the physical and psychological aspects of space. She is also a curator and, to date, has curated over 30 exhibitions in her career. She is currently the Curator at the Collyer Bristow Gallery. Rosalind is the author of the book ‘What They Didn’t Teach you in Art School’. 

Can you tell us a bit about your career path, from secondary school to where you are today?

It’s been a long time of, basically, being in the art world. I studied art A Levels, did a Foundation, did textiles at Chelsea College of Art and then at The Royal College of Art. I set up arts organisations and have a career as an artist alongside that, exhibiting and having works in all kinds of different shows. Eventually, I became the curator at Collyer Bristow Gallery, so that is one of my main jobs at the moment as well as teaching. None of it was expected but it’s been really great because I love all the different aspects of my career and my practice.


And can you talk a bit about what informs and inspires your work and how this has evolved?

The things that inform my work are really about architecture and space and materiality. I suppose architecture is the starting point and then it’s about bringing all the other elements together spatially, whether that’s through painting or whether that’s through installation. There’s always that element of structure and form and foundation to my work. I’m really interested in different textures as well. 


In your practice, is there a process that you use frequently?

The process that I use is just thinking about how I can transform a material or a space. It’s more of a conceptual process than anything else. The materials I might use – I might use fabric, I might use steel, I might use Perspex – can be changeable but the main thing is thinking about ‘How can I transform this material or this space?’ as an ongoing enquiry.


Could you elaborate and take us through the development of one of your recent pieces of work?

A recent piece is a modular installation/sculpture. It is something I’ve been working on over that last couple of years and it changes every time I take it to a new space, so it’s a site-specific piece. It’s like an infinite building system. It’s these steel frames that I can move around in multiple ways and they can fold and lean and bring in new elements with each different space that it’s in. It started off being called ‘Haus Konstruktiv’ after a museum in Zurich, but it’s become other things as well. It’s got many different iterations of what it can be and that’s what I like. It’s like having an endless jigsaw puzzle that you’re always trying to complete but you don’t ever do – but in a good way.


Would you have any top tips for pursuing a career in the arts?

I have lots of tips. I wrote a book called ‘What They Didn’t Teach you in Art School’ which is probably the best thing that I could guide people to because there’s so much that you need to learn about being an artist or about being creative that you don’t necessarily understand whilst you’re at art school. 

My main tips are, from my mentor, my teacher Freddie Robins, to be generous and remind people you exist, in the best possible ways rather than the worst. I’d say as well, pick yourself and represent yourself and be the best ambassador for your work that you can be because that’s what’s going to see you through. Get a really great bunch of other nurturing artists or creatives and surround yourself with people that can help you grow and can nurture you and that you can collaborate with. That will keep you going in the long term.


Find out more on Rosalind’s website:

Interview collected as part of Making Careers – Textiles Careers Seminar and Workshop supported by The Radcliffe Trust.