Career

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Jessica standing with artist Philip Davey in front of his exhibition.

For the love of art


Jessica Pedevski’s love of art is matched only by her determination to succeed in the field. At 24 she became manager of one of Australia’s finest contemporary art galleries, a feat she puts down to hard work and a good eye for opportunity.

Jessica always loved art. In prep her teacher showed the class a book of paintings and was ‘gob-smacked’ when Jessica correctly identified the pictures as Picassos. Later, she won school, community and even national awards for her painting. In Year 12, certain her future lay in the arts, she made the bold decision to choose three folio subjects. The workload was heavy, but ultimately paid off.

“I always wanted to go on to study fine art at a tertiary level and decided on ACU’s Bachelor of Visual Art and Design because it offered so many potential career paths. It covered sculpture, print making, painting, and photography, as well as art history and graphic design,” said Jessica.

Her art teacher recommended she apply for ACU’s Community Achiever Program, a decision which saw Jessica win early entry to the university.

“I was accepted into the course before sitting my final exams and this definitely eased the pressure of VCE exams.”

The right place

Early on in her degree she realised she wanted to work in galleries.

I loved visiting art galleries, so I decided what better job than to work in one.

“During the first year of my degree, a course requirement was to undertake a unit of volunteering.

Jessica hanging a painting for an exhibition

So, I organised to volunteer at Gertrude Contemporary . I did everything from helping artists to install their works, to taking inventory of the stationery cupboard. I could see up close how a gallery was run, and it confirmed that was where I wanted to be.”

During semester breaks Jessica took on similar work, volunteering at the University’s own  Melbourne gallery . The hours of volunteering paid off.

“As part of our final year studies we took on an internship. Because of my previous gallery experience I was able to secure an internship at Arc One . I ended up interning with them above and beyond the hours required. They appreciated my hard work and ended up taking me on as a paid gallery assistant.”

This meant that by the time Jessica graduated she had already secured a part-time job in a gallery. Not long afterwards she secured another at Alcaston Gallery .

Two years later, with solid work experience at four galleries behind her, she took a chance, applying for a permanent, full-time role as gallery coordinator at Australian Galleries .

“They were looking for someone with five years’ experience, so I didn’t think they’d even consider me. But I got the job! In the end they could see how eager I was and how hard I worked. They understood my commitment and gave me a chance.”

It was only a year later that her work ethic was rewarded with a promotion to gallery manager.

Every opportunity I had during my degree took me a step closer to this role. Each unit, whether it was volunteering or an internship, set me up for the next step. And then the next and then the next.

 Meaningful connections

Six years on, Jessica has kept her connections at ACU.

“We actually represent Heather Shimmen, who was my printmaking lecturer at ACU. Since graduating, each year I’ve given talks to visual art and design students as part of their professional development studies which has been arranged through Catherine Bell, my sculpture and professional practice lecturer.”

When she takes the undergraduates for a tour of the gallery she gives them insight into her role and how she made it happen.

“I always tell them to make the most of the opportunities they’re offered. It can always lead to something bigger and better. My best advice is: when you get to the stage where you know what field you want a career in, then give all you can to any opportunity that comes your way. Whether it’s in a volunteering position or internship.

“Your first positions may not be paid and that can be tough. But if you’re eager your hard work will be noticed, and it will pay off.”

If you’re interested in making your mark like Jessica, discover more about our creative arts degrees.

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Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2019 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G