Arts Emergency

Hannah Vallis

Widening Participation Coordinator

I’ve always loved being creative but never quite knew what I wanted to do with it especially when it came to a future career. At the age of 16 I was convinced I wanted to be a Film Director. The moment where it changed for me was a certain lesson from my photography tutor (the a-level I’d taken thinking I’d probably drop after the first year!).
He showed us the painting ‘The Ambassadors’ by Hans Holbein – my immediate reaction was what’s this got to do with photography?! He began to talk about the visuals of the image being a language in its own right, a storytelling device packed full of metaphors, meaning, symbolism, ideas, opinions. Something clicked in my mind and I began to see that art wasn’t just technique and the visual surface – it was a communication device. From here on in it became my favorite subjects – it challenged me to think and question in ways that I had never even considered, to learn from the works of others and to begin producing my own work.
At University I studied Photography (not before studying Film for year and deciding being a Film Director definitely wasn’t what I wanted to do!) at an art college in Cornwall. I began to question why the artist always made the work and the viewer looked at it- Why couldn’t the viewer help make the work too? So I began to work on projects where they could and ended up specialising how photography is used in participatory art and community art projects. During my time at University I also worked with young people on several different art projects which I loved.
So what am I doing now? I’m now working at a University in London in the outreach department organising their cultural programme for the young people we work with – lots of workshops, trips and long term projects with galleries and museums throughout London and helping young people like yourselves to pursue their ambitions.
I volunteered for the Arts Emergency Service because I want to use my creativity for a productive use and I know how difficult and daunting the future can feel. We all need a helping hand sometimes. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to pursue their passion and I want to help people to do this in anyway I can.