Garry Hunter – working in the arts

Garry Hunter combines a range of roles within the arts and creative industries.  Here he gives an insight into his working life, from studying Marine Engineering to becoming a Photographer.


Tell us about the job you’re doing now?

My newest role is Programme Director of Visiting Artists at Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust, London E14.

I am also Founder and Creative Director of Fitzrovia Noir CIC community arts initiative; Consultant Curator of The Young Mesopotamians, an UK/Iraq educational initiative;  and Associate Artist at the Centre for the Study of Migration, University of London and at the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, at Edinburgh University.

I also work as a Photographer on concept-based commissions for blue chip clients including Apple Computer, Cable & Wireless, Capcom, Sony, Ubisoft and organisations such as NESTA, the NHS, the UN Population Fund plus many NGOs (Non-governmental organisations).


What is the most exciting aspect of your work?

After much planning and dedication to producing ideas for potential projects, the most exciting part is when it gets the go ahead and I pull a bespoke team together for delivery.


Would your classmates from school be surprised at what you’re doing now?

Most would be, but I am in regular contact with one especially and half a dozen others occasionally. Word gets around in my home town of South Shields – also the birthplace of Ridley Scott and Eric Idle, so it has a strong cultural heritage.


Was there a teacher who had a particularly strong influence on you and if so in what way?

Most were hopelessly underqualified in the 1970s as we were thrust into a badly executed comprehensive system but the former grammar school teachers stood out by a mile with their depth and sensibilities.


What school subjects were you good at and have any been surprisingly helpful later on?

I will list each as they apply:

English – I have just written 10,000 words for a book on contemporary street art and I review art for and;

Geography – I have worked in over 50 countries and 40 US states and am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. My artwork often involves digital mapping;

Design and Technology (metalwork/technical drawing) –  I was always stronger on the ideas-side rather than the actual making, but when working with a sculptor for example, I have some idea of the foundry casting processes.


How did you decide what you wanted to do after school?

I knew when I was 12 that I wanted to be a Photographer – both my father and an uncle were keen amateurs and both well travelled. When I first left school I studied Marine Engineering (which is useful at Trinity Buoy Wharf) and then worked in a large commercial photographic lab for four and a half years before moving to a recording studio complex in Suffolk as In-House Photographer in 1985.


Did you take a gap year? Did it influence any decisions later in life?

I have not taken a gap year as even when I move around and travel I am usually working on something.


If you went to university what was your university experience like?

I studied Photography in Swansea (BTEC) in the mid 80s then did the second year of a BA in Multimedia at the University of Westminster but left midway into the third year as it was too academic and had little practical work.


What was the proudest moment of your life so far?

No particular moment I can think of, but getting recognition is always good.


Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Italy. My girlfriend is from Rome and wants to spend more time there – so do I.


What advice would you give someone still at school who wants to do what you’re doing now?

Be utterly determined in what you want to do and do not stray off into other areas, until you have a good amount of success as this will weaken your drive.


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