Alumni Spotlight

Nicola Holly, Galleries Manager, Queensland College of Art

21 Jan 2019
Nicola Holly

When Nicola Holly left Ireland for Australia to pursue a career in the arts, little did she know that she would become the youngest public gallery Director in Queensland at the tender age of 26. The Kerry woman now works as Galleries Manager at the QCA Galleries Griffith University in Brisbane.

She manages five art galleries within the university with the most prestigious space located in Brisbane city centre. Programming primarily focuses on contemporary art and design, research, curatorial projects and connections between Queensland and international artists. Nicola looks back on how her time at UCC led to the career of her dreams in Australia.

Course/subjects studied in UCC and year of graduation
I completed a B.A in History of Art and English in 2008 and enjoyed the experience so much that I remained with the arts faculty to gain a Masters in Modern and Contemporary Art the following year.

Best memory of University College Cork
I have several memories but overall the experience of going through university with your close friends would stand out. It was my first time living out of home and I was fortunate enough to live with my best friend and we made some fantastic memories together.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now? 
Having two notable qualifications from a leading international university has impressed Australian employers. In 2013 I became the youngest art gallery Director in Queensland and there is no doubt that I would not have gained a position of such responsibility so young without my education.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
Get as involved in daily life on campus as you can, join clubs, attend social events and enjoy your time at University. I was fortunate enough to be studying two subjects that I am truly passionate about and this is the one time in your life where you can give that opportunity a hundred percent. In terms of a career in the arts, try and attend as many gallery events as possible, keep up to date with the artistic research, exhibitions and practices. The art world can be a small place and it’s beneficial to remain current.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
I found my lecturers to be incredibly encouraging and accessible throughout my time at UCC. I felt they believed in me and constantly inspired me to push myself with my research. Having The Glucksman Art Gallery on campus was also hugely valuable. Seeing how brilliantly Fiona Kearney ran the spaces really inspired me as a female gallery director.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
I was the Fashion Editor for the UCC Express which gave me great experience in putting together a publication. I also made genuine friends through the paper, some of whom I’m still close to today.

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