In conversation with Rosella Black from the Westminster Reference Library.
A conversation with Rosella Black from the Westminster Reference Library where I ask her a few questions in the lead up to forthcoming two woman exhibition ‘Morphogenesis’ by Boudicca Paloma and myself.
– How did your education/background lead you to becoming librarian/curator at Westminster Reference Library?
I have always been interested in art and I am a voracious reader. I have an Arts degree and I worked in publishing for over twenty years. About ten years ago I was made redundant. After a period of initial shock, feeling lost and directionless I decided to work only with things I was passionate about, such as Art and Books. I knew about this old public art reference library in the West End and, though I had no library background, I was determined to try and work there. I was stubborn and lucky and eventually got a little part-time job. A job that soon took over my life. I did an MA in Arts Information Management and nine years later I am one half of the Arts Library team
Tell me a bit about the Westminster Reference Library, what do you enjoy most about running the Library and exhibition space?
I manage the exhibition space and get involved with all aspects of every show. We host on average an exhibition every two weeks, approx 22 shows in one year. It is a ridiculous amount of work that requires coordination and time management skills. I try my best but things do go a little pear-shaped occasionally. Running this beautiful, historical space in the heart of the most exciting city in the world gives me a sense of fulfilment. I am confronted by a never ending supply of talent and every single project (or almost) is at worst surprising, at best delightful and always fascinating.
I’ve been to a few of the talks and events held at the library, can you tell me a bit more about any particular highlights from the past year and are there any upcoming events or talks that you’d like to share?
There are many highlights like when we invited the Soho Sex Workers collective to come and discuss the challenges of their daily life and how they were going to survive the gentrification of Soho. On the same night, author Clayton Littlewoods, who used to run a shop in Old Compton Street, talked about life in Soho and talented singer songwriter Tim Arnold (son of one of the original Windmill Girls) who is one of the founding members of the Save Soho campaign, performed his songs. There were many people here that night and I was running up and down as usual, but still managed to get a selfie with Eastenders star Jessie Wallace (attached)! And I shall never forget when we staged a reading of the infamous Earl of Rochester’s play ‘Sodom, or the Quintessence of Debauchery’. I was not a little nervous (the actors used odd shaped vegetables instead of the real thing) but it was a really funny evening, lots of snorting and giggling obviously.
– And finally, for fun, do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?
Creative hero? Kendrick Lamar. His music is utterly compelling and his style has turned hip hop and rap into something really new and infinitely complex. Also, the film maker Spike Jonze. But there are so many creative heroes and heroines, too many to mention… I shall have to have season 2 on this blog…
Forthcoming Exhibitions at the Library:
16 – 28 May – ‘Tres Riches Heures’ – Daniel Miller
30 May – 11 June – Emma Press – Emma Wright
13 – 25 June –‘Morphogenesis – the beginning of Shape’ – Rosa Doyle & Boudicca Paloma
27 June 9 July – Photography exhibition – Rita Taylor
11 – 23 July – ‘City of Dust’ – Lewis Bush
25 – 30 July – ‘You Know What I Mean?’ – Fleur Donnelly-Jackson