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Read what alumni have to say about our Design and the Decorative Arts at the Institute.

image2Ryoko Kijima

What is the most interesting thing you learned at Sotheby’s Institute?
I always enjoyed the handling sessions. Sometimes, we were showed genuine pieces and fake pieces together and challenged to find the fake one. It always showed me how important it is to see as many objects as possible and train our eyes. It is really interesting that the reason for being fake was sometimes that the piece was too "perfect."

What role did London play in your education?
London is a really exciting city for art people. I am always amazed to find how culturally rich this city is. I remember once I saw a very historical piece of Japanese screens in a gallery, which could be important enough to be exhibited in a museum if it was in Japan. Also, you could see amazing works at the auction houses, which you might never have a chance to see ever again. For me, it was not possible to see those works if I were in Japan, and this is why I love bieng in London.

What was the first artwork to have an impact on you?
It is not a particular work, but I clearly remember the time I got into the art. As a kid, museums were just these dim, quiet and boring places and I did not like to be brought there by my parents. It was when I had a school visit to a museum and we got to examine the paintings that I realized how pleasant it was to look at the every details of brushstrokes. I had not realized that there was a lot to look at in a single painting and it struck me. I still remember the excitement that occurred inside me.

What was the most formative moment in your career?
I think now is the most important moment in my career. Before entering Sotheby’s Institute, I worked in a trading company in Tokyo and did imports and exports of raw materials, which obviously is not related to art. It is time for me to connect all the dots of my life experiences and my interest in art. It is really challenging but exciting moment. I cannot say where I will be and what I will be doing in five years.

What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Quitting my previous job was very risky in a way. In Japan, most people only work for one company until they retire. I could have had a steady future if I just continued working for them, but I decided to throw it away because I could not let myself do the things I did not love. And I have never regretted that decision.

Megan Turley

Age: 39 years old.

Occupation: Deputy Director & Senior Valuation Manager, Valuations Department, Sotheby’s London

What is your nationality/where are you from? Cape Town, South Africa

What did you enjoy most about the course?
The object handling sessions and the tours of the auction house previews. Also, the range of the type of artworks that we covered was astounding! Everything from furniture through to silver, ceramics, glass and objet de vertu, not to mention the invaluable lessons in architectural styles.

How did the course contribute to your development?
It provided the platform (and confidence!) I needed to leave my career in law and replace it with a career in the art industry.

What have you done since the course?
I spent 6 months interning at Sotheby’s London, whereafter I was fortunate enough to be offered a job as a Valuation Manager in the Valuations Department at Sotheby’s London.

What was your background prior to joining the course?
I was a corporate lawyer (specialising in Mergers & Acquisitions) at Allen & Overy LLP’s London office.

How was the experience of Paris and of the other study visits?
The trip to Paris was indisputably one of the highlights of the course. The afternoon we spent at Kraemer & Cie, one of the oldest antiques dealerships in Paris, was one that I am likely to remember for the rest of my life! I had never before seen such a treasure trove of exquisite objects – it was tantamount to walking into Aladdin’s Cave!

Teaching and learning directly through art objects is a main focus of the course, which was the object that you loved most?
It was a room rather than an object that captivated me – the Music Room from Norfolk House, St. James’s Square (the Duke of Norfolk’s London home), which was saved when the rest of the house was demolished in 1938. I still pop in to see it every time I visit the V&A – for me, it is the pinnacle of Georgian splendour and I find it mesmerising!

Marnie Dawson

Age: 41 years old.

Occupation: n/a

What is your nationality/where are you from? Australian

What did you enjoy most about the course?
The richly informative and fascinating lectures, the museum and house visits which supported the lectures and enabled us to see the various objects up-close and first-hand.

How did the course contribute to your development?
I now have a great foundation of knowledge and understanding of the decorative arts, interiors and architecture from 1680 up to the present.

What have you done since the course?
I have applied for Sotheby's internship, and in June I helped at Masterpiece Art Fair as a vetting scribe.

How was the experience of Paris and of the other study visits?
The Paris trip was so much fun. There are some incredible pieces of furniture and glass in Musée des Arts Décoratifs and it was fantastic to be able to see the finest French furniture and decorative arts up-close. The other highlight for me from my time on the Paris field trip was visiting the Kraemer Gallery.

Teaching and learning directly through art objects is a main focus of the course, which was the object that you loved most?
I couldn't answer this as there were so many things I loved. I was most impressed by Ham house and Willow Road.