The fine art of a good education
Creative careers Question: What does a course at Christie's Education offer art history students? Answer: A mix of theory and practical skills says art specialist and auctioneer, Kate Flitcroft.
For a while, Kate Flitcroft, 33 — now Associate Director and Specialist, Silver Department and Auctioneer at Christie's — thought she might become an architect, like her late father. But after studying architecture at Washington University in St Louis, U.S.A., she visited her university roommate, whose parents are collectors of decorative art. They showed her their collection and a Christie's catalogue. It was such a transformational moment she became to think about other training and career paths.
“I didn't want to sit in a library for two years,” she says. “I wanted to work with real objects. By then, I also had the idea of working in an auction house as my end goal.” So Flitcroft applied to and got a place at Christie's Education — the education arm of Christie's auction house — studying a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine and Decorative Arts (2005-2006), followed by a Masters in Modern and Contemporary Art (MLitt, 2006-2007). While she was completing her thesis, Flitcroft was offered a job at Christie's, becoming an auctioneer in 2012.
“The structure of the Postgraduate was lectures in the morning and then, in the afternoon, visits to museums such as the V&A, or a Christie's sale room,” says Flitcroft. “I got to speak to specialists and private collectors and visited country houses; we went to Rome, we went to Paris. When I look back over the two years I spent studying for my Postgraduate and then my Masters, there were so many high points. It was a fascinating, fabulous experience and exactly what I hoped it would be. From the moment I stepped through the door, right up to where I am now, it has been enriching my life.”