Three Sixty Degrees By Rachael B
Art and brand consultant Rachael Barrett is getting ready to jet off again. Thankfully not before we catch up over ice cold glasses of healthy juices and mouthfuls of frozen cranberries...
Once Upon A Time...
In university I knew I wanted to either be a writer or a stylist, working in fashion or some artistic capacity, or a fantastic fusion of both! The concept of being a curator was not something I was familiar with as a career path, and even styling I only really became familiar with when I controversially skipped out on my senior spring break for an asst set director credit on an indie film. After graduation, a few wild years in the magazine world in New York took me from Time Inc's Real Simple where, as assistant to the style editor, I really learned the nuances of cultivating visual language and the fashion closets at Vogue where the real-life Devil Wears Prada job was just as gruelling as the film depicted.
A few years later, after a wonderful hiatus in Jamaica as a journalist and writer, which reinforced my sense of self as an adult Jamaican, I went to London to do my master's at the hallowed Sotheby's Institute. The friends I made there are still some of my closest colleagues in the art world today. As Jamaicans we are confident in our ability to juggle, so I somehow completed the master's course, two internships and managed to name my salary with a private dealer where I was granted access to the inner workings of the international art market.
After a few years running that collection and putting on shows in our Duke Street St James space in Mayfair, a bouyant market meant I could step out on my own for the first time. Stints at the art world conglomerate Gagosian Gallery followed. I was privileged to work under Larry Gagosian at the peak of the market in his world-renowned Britannia Street outpost and am thankful to still count Gagosian Gallery as a frequent collaborator today. I set up my consultancy, Three Sixty Degrees, as a way of creating a platform for other curators and consultants to work together to execute bespoke projects. Working with the world's "one per centers" meant that I was soon able to expand my business from art advisory to broader cultural and brand consulting within the luxury landscape, and I collaborate with a great network of stylists, writers, event producers etc, across art fairs, film festivals, grands prix, you name it, worldwide.
You've Got To Put In The Work...
The art world is a bit like a travelling circus with the season kicking off in September, shortly after the fashion week frenzy begins. Art and fashion are still cosy bedfellows and as fashion and style arbiters have become more interested in exploring crossovers between the two, there are more collaborations than ever now.
Fall is mostly Europe-focused as the major contemporary European winter fair, Frieze Art, and its Parisian counterpart, Fiac!, occupy most of September and October. The November auctions in New York are a regular mark on the calendar. I try to spend at least one week a month in New York, to maintain a balanced grasp of the European and American markets. No year is ever the same, and my schedule is influenced by biennials, fairs and increasingly private museum openings. Eugenio Lopez's Jumex opening in Mexico City last November was an inspirational highlight. Then I close the year out at Art Basel Miami Beach, arguably the most important art fair in the Western hemisphere today in terms of rounding up market developments before the December respite.
The spring season starts in Europe with the February auctions in London. Oscar season in LA sees the West Coast spruce up with a range of top-level exhibitions to whet the appetite of Hollywood's elite. I also always try to take advantage of the climate at this time of year with a visit to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah for the Emirati art and design fairs and biennials.
May is film season with Cannes being a fixture for brand partnerships within my team and the Grand Prix in Monaco a popular time for relaxing with clients.
Immediately after I head over to Frieze Art in New York, a new cutting-edge outpost on the calendar in which I became the first art advisor to stage a small concession in a major art fair with Rachael's One Stop, a luxury and gourmet bodega on wheels inspired by our very own Faith's Pen!
The season begins to wind down and segue into summer with the June modern and contemporary auctions in London and the largest contemporary art fair, Art Basel, in June. During a Venice bienniale year, five days of the most decadent art celebrations take place in one the world's most beautiful cities. The Venice schedule is not for the faint of heart as it requires both late nights and early mornings. Some of my fondest memories include the beautiful fusions of old and new that this biennial fosters. One year the gritty South London suburb of Peckham, where I was part of a board that launched the UK's only public contemporary forum for sculpture, Bold Tendencies, staged their own rogue pavilion and at the same time, dear friend Courtney Love performed with the Orchestra del Teatro Olimpic at a private palazzo.That was also the year Courtney and I did the entire season together from Cannes to Monaco - lots of boats, red carpets, late- night guitar sessions and golden cadillac cocktails!
This summer I made a promise to spend an extended period in Jamaica as I am working on a project here, that hopefully should be opening a pathway to the international contemporary art world by the end of this year. I cut my June New York visit short to come down for the Kingston On The Edge night at the artist-run gallery NLS and have been enjoying the range of film screenings, exhibitions, dances and auctions that seem to be shaping summer as Kingston's cultural season.
I have also been sharing my experience with developing patron programming at many of the world's top institutions, to help build the Caribbean's first integrated patron group, 'Papa Bois', with NLS founder Deborah Anzinger, curator Nicole Smythe-Johnson and local gallerist Susanne Fredricks. The group was formally announced and the team is prepping to launch the programming this fall.
On what inspires Rachael B
Innate grace and the ability to maintain composure under fire.
Determined instinct and intuition.
Misfits and renegades! Any type of creative vision and the ability to see the future and live it with little regard to current trends or circumstances.
My latest favourite neighborhood, Rue Tiquetonne in the 1me in Paris. The French of course have taken on the recession with aplomb and that little corner of the world has been the most inspiring nook I've spent time in during the last few months.
Change! Nature abhors a vacuum and I hate an evolutionary void. The best minds I have come across are quick studies and embrace adapting to new situations and circumstances.
Your most treasured possession?
The possessions I treasure most tend to be intangible things, like great memories I've racked up from unforgettable experiences with art and sharing time and space with incredible people. But, embarrassingly, when it comes to material things I'd say my shoes! At last count, a few years back, I was north of 500 pairs... sandals, stiletto sandals, Moroccan slides I've found in a souk... I love shoes and am very particular about quality of material and the cut. When it's zone-out time I spend ages online on Matches, Net a Porter and style blogs looking at new releases and rare styles. And the little flutter I have when I find something new that I love is fantastic. Lol. I've shipped across continents, biked across cities just to get the right shoe from a shop if I know they've got exactly what I want. And I'm super-picky about the real-time visual versus an affinity for the style itself. I once shipped a special-ordered shoe across the US only to send it back when I realised the look just didn't come together as I thought it would.
RB's Daily Ritual
I think of whatever project/itinerary I'm immersed in at the time and recalibrate based on what's left to be accomplished. My hand goes straight to my phone and I check the news - I love learning and admittedly, gleaning info is usually how I fall asleep, laptop on pillow, and it's the first thing on in the morning
I never let a week go by without...
discovering some new talent, either in branding, marketing, writing, a visual artist, musician, chef... basically, I never let a week go by without feeling like I've tapped into the inspired nooks of the world. If too much time goes by without discovering something/anything refreshing or new then I get depressed! Last week's gem were the new NDTC season dances choreographed by Chris Walker. I found them an inspiring evolution in how the company embraces design and new trends in movement.
How has being Jamaican influenced your resolve to succeed?
The interesting thing about being Jamaican is that we are such a proud people and so resolved in our sense of self - that for me it made moving forward on the international art and style landscape fairly easy in terms of remaining confident in my abilities and made me able to withstand any knocks or naysayers along the way.