The Art of Politics

Serena is a History of Art BA graduate from the University of Warwick, and has an MA in Fashion Curation & Cultural Programming from the London College of Fashion. Her work experience involves museums, galleries and retail.

Since I was 17, I have been independently interested in politics, specifically the Conservative Party. I know that traditionally to grant a career in Westminster, one would have to study a subject that relates to political theory. It was, therefore, such a pleasant surprise to see that when applying for the Patchwork Foundation Internship at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), there was no requirement to have studied politics, so I did not hesitate to apply!

As a History of Art BA and Fashion Curation and Cultural Programming MA student, I remember feeling as though my background was quite different from everyone else. However, after meeting the rest of the office, I realised I did fit into the vibrant and diverse team. The skills I developed from my History of Art degree included observation and analysis, and from my Curation degree I improved my skills of being selective and a forward-thinker. These transferable skills really helped in the political internship. I used the former when researching policy in the Conservative Research Department (CRD), and the latter for producing original ideas in the Marketing Team.

Studying both art and fashion helped me gain a further insight into international culture and to be respectful of differences. Much of art and fashion emerged through different faiths and upbringings. Similar to Parliament, the cross-party environment exists on a lot of mutual respect. In the same way a curator would want a museum or gallery to be for everyone, the Government also want to make policies that would be relevant to everyone. 

In the six-week internship, I learnt so much about how to work in such a motivated and driven team, more so than I would in a corporate job for one year. This is because of the fast rotational method of the internship, which taught me a different array of skills. Some examples; I learnt how to better my writing in a more constructive and concise way in CRD, improved on my organisation skills in the Chairman and CEO’s Office, I learnt long-term financial thinking in Marketing, and effective time management in Campaigning. It was also such a wonderful experience to be a part of a close-knit team. When everyone has the same ambition, it creates a universal connection, making it a friendly and communicative environment to work in.

Throughout the internship there were opportunities that arose where the interns could help at events for the Treasurers Team. These events would be attended by the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and generous Party donors. I really enjoyed offering my extra time to help at these events, so much so, I was offered to stay on after the concluded internship for a month as Event Management Support to help organise a large-scale fundraising event called the City Dinner. I learnt a lot about planning in advance, but also how to be resilient as sometimes things had to adapt last minute. This helped my current role as Communications Officer for Steve Tuckwell MP because if diary plans change, you must be proactive. I still enjoy working closely with the CCHQ Treasurers Team and regularly volunteer to assist their events. One of the first events I worked on after the internship ended was at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. The Treasurers Team have taught me the logistics of working in a team that focuses on networking, development and continuing the life-long skill about how to, and why it is important to, continue close relations with clients, both new and old.

The CCHQ internship as a whole, not only taught me a lot about working in politics, but it also gave me the freedom to utilise my skills I obtained from my BA and MA too. For example, my art degrees taught me a lot about conservation and archiving. I have an instinct to ensure that artworks are protected and recorded. Towards the end of the internship, I was really intrigued by the wealth of artwork and archive posters that CCHQ have in their collection. I asked colleagues if I could have a look at the archives and create a catalogue. As I raised this idea, I was later asked to select a few of these to be put on display in a vitrine in the headquarters of CCHQ Matthew Parker St. I was so pleased that CCHQ welcomed the idea, and appreciated the importance of not only having an archive but showcasing some of it too. I recently visited CCHQ and to my delight the walls both upstairs and downstairs are filled with more artwork. This goes to show that as a temporary Patchwork Intern with bright ideas, you can bring permanent benefits and insights to the rest of the team, regardless of your educational background. 

I am forever grateful for my experience at CCHQ because it made me realise I could use the skills I got from my degrees to see the art in politics, which I have already started to implement in my new role as Communications Officer for Steve Tuckwell MP.