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Gill Nicol

QuestionWhat inspires you?

AnswerCreative people, lateral thinkers, visual pleasure i.e. the sea, a beautiful garden; some contemporary art i.e. Bruce Nauman, Joseph Beuys, stimulating conversation; a really good book

QuestionWhich leadership development programme did you attend?

AnswerPeach Placement

QuestionWhy did you choose the programme?

AnswerRight place at the right time – Tate St Ives combined with looking at audiences and contemporary art – round peg in round hole.

QuestionHow do you relax?

AnswerReading, watching movies, walking

QuestionWhat single thing would improve the quality of your work-life?

AnswerEveryone in the organisation understanding and prioritising time for research and reflection

QuestionWhat is your greatest fear?

AnswerBecoming invisible (as I get older) and not valued

QuestionWhat pearl of leadership wisdom would you offer an emerging leader?

AnswerBe aware of what you don’t know as well as what you do – and don’t be afraid to ask for help

QuestionWhat is your guiltiest pleasure?

AnswerEating cream cakes

QuestionWhat words or phases do you most overuse?

AnswerWhatever suits you

QuestionWhat has been your most challenging situation as a leader?

AnswerDealing with staff

QuestionWhat did you learn from that experience?

AnswerTo be honest

QuestionWhat is your idea of perfect happiness?

AnswerLying on a Cornish beach on a warm day reading a good book

QuestionWhich book(s) are you reading at the moment?

AnswerA Book of Silence by Sara Maitland

QuestionWhich 'leader' from the past or present day do you most admire and why?

AnswerMark Osterfield is the Executive Director of Tate St Ives and has been an inspiration to me. He’s a very special person. He’s confident in himself which allows him to be generous. Everyone is given a voice.

QuestionWhere would you like to live?

AnswerCornwall or Venice

Question Did you experience any eureka! moments during your leadership development programme? If yes, what?

AnswerYes, lots! • I hadn’t anticipated the joy of returning to research i.e. using my brain in a reflective way. • A recognition that I want to be seen as ‘remarkable’ – this came out of a CLP meeting on 23 Feb, where the facilitator talked about personal brand and being ‘remarkable’., which resonated with me. From the beginning I have been aware of the brief timeline of the placement – six months in which to learn, make a difference, have an impact – all this has made me realise that yes, I do want to be remarkable – it’s not enough to just be good at whatever you do. • A realisation that I can utilise my former life and identity as an artist and my relationship to my art practice. I have been reflecting on how I perceive my 'leadership' approach through an artists lens: i.e. to be ideas based; self organising and seeing creativity as the way we work not what we produce

QuestionWhat is your favourite smell?


QuestionIf you were a super hero, what would your power be?

AnswerBeing able to fly

QuestionHave you found your leadership development beneficial?

AnswerYes, absolutely, in many ways

Question Why?

AnswerIt is an immense luxury to have had this time for reflection; and for self-reflection on what it means to be a leader. I feel there has been so much that I can take with me to my next position, and that will reveal itself through actually ‘doing’ it. Two things already seem clear to me as I move towards the Head of Interaction role at Arnolfini: to find time for research within the post by rethinking the delivery model; and to build in reflection and evaluation from the beginning. In this way, I would hope to be seen as a role-model for my team. I also now recognise that being a catalyst for change and changing people while you work is part of what I have done at Tate St Ives and what I would like to continue. Also, the quality of the work and the consistency to audience and organisational mission is also very important to me. Mark Osterfield has been a fantastic role model; his generosity, compassion and interest in people means he is an amazing leader.

QuestionFor what cause would you die?

AnswerI can’t think of one

QuestionWhat do you consider to be your greatest (professional or personal) achievement?

AnswerI haven’t got there yet.

QuestionWhat has been your most embarrassing moment?

AnswerNot being honest with someone in order not to hurt them – and them finding out I lied

QuestionWhat would your 'leadership' motto be?

AnswerDo unto others...

QuestionIf you were stranded on a desert island what 5 things would you want with you?

AnswerCrayons, water, fruit, a ton of books and paper

QuestionWhat is your favourite song?

AnswerNightswimming by REM

QuestionWhat keeps you awake at night?

AnswerAnxiety about work

QuestionWhat is the most important lesson life has taught you so far?

AnswerThe unexamined life is a life not worth living

QuestionDo you plan to do more leadership development? If yes, what area do you plan to focus on?

AnswerNot at the moment – my new job will see me putting all my new knowledge into practice.


Gill Nicol

Name: Gill Nicol
Title: I was at Tate St Ives for 7 months as Audience Development Associate – now starting at Arnolfini in Bristol as Head of Interaction from 24 August
Organisation: See Above
Location: See Above

Tate St Ives – part of the Tate family, showing St Ives Modernists alongside contemporary artists. Arnolfini – a contemporary art centre in the heart of Bristol, showcasing visual art, music, live art, film and performance