Sue Clive MBE, retired Gallery Educator

When I was very young, originally I wanted to be a nurse because I liked the black stockings. Later, a stage designer, because I had done a lot of designing and painting of sets at school and loved art.

I went to Central School of Art in the 1950s and studied Stage Design, but didn’t complete the course because I got married.

My first job was raising a family of four children which I did for about 10 years. I then took a teacher training course which was a three-year Certificate course and one-year BEd. At the time it was a new idea that teachers should have a degree. My first paid job was as an Art and English teacher in a secondary school. In my teaching I used images to stimulate creative writing and realised how much students got out of looking at art, and so in art courses I started taking them to museums and galleries, which was quite unusual at the time!

After a few years’ teaching in Gloucester, I got a job as Head of Art in a boys’ grammar school near Manchester. I was the first female Head of Department in the school. Whilst I was there I hosted the first two artists-in-schools in the North West.

I went on to do an MA in Art Education at Manchester Polytechnic. I took a year’s leave of absence to do my dissertation which was on ‘How children come into contact with contemporary art/artists’ and this led me into gallery education which was just emerging as a profession and practice.

By chance I met the Education Officer for Arts Council’s touring exhibitions and she gave me a job touring and running workshops in galleries with the exhibition Big Prints. I then went on to take various freelance jobs working with schools and other groups and galleries, including pioneering the use of drama and movement in gallery workshops.

In the mid 1980s I was appointed at Cornerhouse, Manchester to set up and run the education programme, but continued to do freelance work in other venues all over the country.

In 1988 I ran a one-year pilot project at the Hayward Gallery, running the education service there. I also became a founder member of engage.

After this I continued to work as a freelancer running projects and workshops and later writing, researching and evaluating within the field of gallery education. I retired last year but continue to be involved in the field and sit on engage’s advisory council.

During my career I realised what important and pioneering work was going on in small galleries throughout the UK. I really enjoyed seeing people getting excited and interested in contemporary art when they didn’t expect to be. It was also great seeing that people have very perceptive things to say.

The worst part about working in gallery education is the attitude of group leaders and getting them interested, problems of getting funding and being funding led, the attitudes of large institutions to small institutions and the London-centricity of the gallery world.