Nine Highlights For Nine Years

Nine years ago I started a blog. Over time, that tiny, pink, art-filled corner of the internet – or Gallery Girl as she came to be known – grew from small musings and records of gallery visits to exhibitions, art fairs, workshops, lifelong friendships and so much more. I don’t think that the 18 year old girl who was just about to embark on adulthood could ever have imagined what that website would evolve into, what opportunities it would provide or the people she would meet. It’s hard to sum up almost a decade in one paragraph, so to mark Gallery Girl’s ninth year, here are nine highlights to celebrate nine years. 

The cake my mom made for my 9th birthday

Getting Published

When I first started Gallery Girl I could never have imagined that I would ever have the opportunity to write for someone else, let alone that it could turn into my job. I am so thankful to all the publications that have supported my writing over the years. It is insane to me that I am able to write about what I love on a daily basis for such outlets as The Art Gorgeous, Hyperallergic, Jdeed, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and many, many others.

Using Art To Promote Mental Wellbeing

In April 2015 I curated Hidden Visions at Chelsea Old Town Hall in London, an exhibition that used art to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness in your people. Having suffered from an eating disorder at varying degrees for a decade, it is a cause very close to my heart and I whole-heartedly believe that art has the power to communicate in a way that sometimes words cannot. I was very lucky to win funding from O2 Think Big to work on the project, and to exhibit work by Maeve Buckenham, Miranda Chance, Darcy Keverian, Bethany Lamont, Stephanie Linne, Tom Plumptre and John Michael Taylor. 

Curating Perpetual Movement

I was invited to curate the exhibition during Arab Women Artists Now Festival (AWAN) in 2018 at Rich Mix in London, a totally life-changing and all-consuming experience. Perpetual Movement considered the relationship between migration and memory in connection to the Arab world and its diaspora. The exhibition included the work of Yumna Al-Arashi, Nada Elkalaawy, Shaikha Fahad Al Ketbi, Thana Faroq, Araz Farra, Nadia Gohar and Najd Al Tahar.

Working With Armenia Art Fair

When you live in diaspora, you never imagine that you could contribute to your ancestral homeland, but I have been so lucky to blog for Armenia Art Fair since its debut edition in 2018. Being able to see a new art fair from before its launch to its opening has been a very eye-opening experience. I am so grateful to Armenia Art Fair for the opportunities it has given me, and to also be able to see the determination of a very hard-working group of women. 

My Amman Residency

In October 2019 I completed a residency at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. The experience was incredible, leading workshops, meeting people from all over the world and collaborating with different artists was one that I will never forget.

Giving Workshops

While in Amman I gave workshops at Darat Al Funun and Manara Culture. When I returned to London I also gave a workshop at Victoria & Albert Museum and I am hoping that once life returns back to “normal”, I can lead many more.

Speaking About My Work

It is a little surreal to me that people are interested in hearing me speak about my work. However, I have now spoken at University College London, Oxford University and at General Assembly with Underpinned, with each occasion being a wonderful experience.

Creating Arsheef

It isn’t everyday that you are asked to help launch a gallery in Yemen, but that is exactly what Ibi Ibrahim asked me to do in July 2019. After much persuasion, we launched Arsheef in November 2019 and have worked on several projects and exhibitions, with many more still to come. It has been so rewarding to present the work of Yemeni artists today and help them present their work to others and apply for more opportunities. 

Launching A Podcast

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK and the gallery doors closed the future of Gallery Girl seemed uncertain. Unable to visit museums and not content to review online shows, I made the decision to launch a podcast, albeit without any technological knowledge whatsoever. Launching the Gallery Girl podcast has been a journey, but it has been an exciting one, providing the opportunity to present female artists and cultural practitioners to speak about their work in their own words. And although it’s a step I never envisioned taking, I’m glad I did. 

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer and curator. She is the founder of Gallery Girl - a London-based curatorial platform and website dedicated to modern and contemporary art from across the globe. Her work is primarily focused on supporting emerging female artists from the Middle East and the Caucasus. She has written for Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, Suitcase and Vice Arabia among other publications. Her exhibitions in London and Armenia have been featured in Vogue Arabia, The Art Newspaper, The Art Gorgeous and numerous other news outlets. Gallery Girl has also spoken in the UK, UAE and Belgium about the contemporary art scene in the MENA region, and is planning further events in London and Amman.

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