Global Creative PublicistLee Sharrock‘s extensive career in the art world spans various roles and achievements. Starting at Sotheby’s Auctioneers in the 19th Century European Paintings department, she built a foundation in art administration after graduating from Norwich University of the Arts and University College London (UCL). Her journey continued at M&C Saatchi and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), where her passion for public relations (PR) ignited. At ICA, Sharrock coordinated private views and special events, further enhancing her skills.
Culturalee highlights some of the most exciting talent and hotbeds of culture around the world with special features dedicated to Innovators and Cultural Destinations
Over the years, she honed her expertise as she worked with a wide array of artists, advertising agencies, directors, galleries, and production companies, both as a curator and publicist. This diverse experience granted her a deep understanding of different cultural areas and a vast global network of artists and creatives. When it comes to writing, Sharrock has been prolific, penning thousands of press releases and writing for numerous publications such as Art Plugged, Artlyst, Baku Magazine, Creative Review, FAD Magazine, F22, State and Soho House Magazine.
Establishing herself as a PR magnate, Sharrock has collaborated with well-known names and brands, seamlessly blending the worlds of art and advertising. Her roles have been multifaceted, encompassing writing, curating, and publicizing. In her latest venture, Sharrock has launched Culturalee, a curated arts content hub.
Culturalee celebrates and highlights the rich, global tapestry of culture yet also marks another significant milestone in Sharrock’s outstanding career. This new venture demonstrates her ongoing commitment to the arts and her capacity to innovate in the cultural sphere. We spoke with Sharrock to learn more about her new venture.
Q: What’s the ethos of Culturalee?
Lee Sharrock: Culturalee is a celebration of the rich global tapestry of culture, and will cover art, cultural destinations, design, fashion, film, art fairs, design and literature. Culturalee highlights some of the most exciting talent and hotbeds of culture around the world with interviews, reviews and features, and is designed as a creative hub providing a platform for upcoming and established cultural innovators and creators in all forms of culture.
Q: What can readers expect to find on the site?
Lee Sharrock: Culturalee highlights some of the most exciting talent and hotbeds of culture around the world with special features dedicated to Innovators and Cultural Destinations, and an Insider, Exhibitions and Reviews column. Culturalee will offer a curatorial and art advisory service, as well as creating cultural content and spotlighting highlights of the world of culture.
Q: Can you give some insight into what will be featured when the site launches?
Lee Sharrock: Culturalee launches with reviews of new museum shows, gallery exhibitions, film and theatre including; David Hockney at the National Portrait Gallery; Van Gogh at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris; Daiara Tukano at Richard Saltoun Gallery Rome; ‘Flower Power’ at the Musée des Impressionismes Giverny, featuring Rob and Nick Carter; The Prodigy’s Maxim at The Blender Gallery in Athens; Frieze Art Fair highlights; Hiroshi Sugimoto at the Hayward Gallery; ‘IN CAMERA’ at the BFI London Film Festival; Marina Abramovic at the Royal Academy of Arts; Chanel at the V&A; Portia Coughlan at The Almeida Theatre; Annie Morris and Idris Khan at Pitzhanger Gallery; Massimiliano Pelletti at Bowman Scupture; and Winston Branch at Varvara Roza Galleries.
Culturalee went to Georgia to interview long-time Banksy collaborator Steve Lazarides about ‘Banksy: Birth of an Icon’, the exhibition he has curated at the Georgian Museum of Fine Arts in Tbilisi, featuring Banksy originals from the private collection of Lord Edward Spencer Churchill, and a previously unseen photographic archive of Lazarides’s photographs documenting Banksy’s rise to stardom. Watch the film produced by Lee Sharrock and filmed by Director of Photography Sky Sharrock here: Banksy: Birth of an Icon.
Q: What inspired you to launch Culturalee?
Lee Sharrock: I’ve been writing about art for years as a contributing writer to publications including Artplugged, Artlyst, Baku Magazine, Creative Review, FAD Magazine, F22, State and Soho House Magazine, and have worked as a publicist for many years which means I have written 1000’s of press releases! And through my work with artists, advertising agencies, directors, galleries and production companies, whether in a curatorial or publicist capacity, I have written about so many areas and aspects of creativity, and I’ve interviewed such a wide range of artists and creatives, that it’s given me a huge breadth of knowledge about different areas of culture, and a global network of artists and creatives.
So with Culturalee I wanted to channel my writing skills and knowledge of the arts and creative industries into a cultural hub, where I can provide a platform for rising stars, as well as feature exciting exhibitions and cultural events around the world. I have a multi-disciplinary approach to my career, and through my work I have straddled the art world and advertising industries, working with artists, creative directors, film directors and cultural institutions, so I’ve always felt that different creative and artistic disciplines shouldn’t be pigeon-holed, and that all forms of creativity should be celebrated.
Through Culturalee I would like to spotlight artists and creators from all corners of the globe, without a gender or cultural bias. I’m London-based but travel a lot and meet artists and creatives all over the world, and I’ve found that a lot of arts and culture coverage I read is very London-centric, so my mission with Culturalee is to have a more international outlook, and to spotlight arts and culture in all corners of the globe.
Q: What artists and innovators have you interviewed for the launch of Culturalee?
Lee Sharrock: I have interviewed emerging and established artists and cultural innovators including; Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize Winner Alexandre Silberman; artist and author of ‘The Colour Storm’, Damian Dibben; and artists Emma Loizides, Kay Gasei, Heiyi Tam, Trish Wylie and Eva Yates.
Q: Is Culturalee going to have a global view of culture?
Lee Sharrock: Yes absolutely. My aim with Culturalee is not just to feature the most important exhibitions and museum shows in London where I’m based, but to look further afield and write about exciting exhibitions, cultural events and cultural hotspots around the world.
Culturalee’s ‘Cultural Destinations’ series spotlights an art hotel with art reviews and kicks off with; New York City, 11 Howard and Wengechi Mutu at The New Museum; Naples, Hotel San Francesco Al Monte and Caravaggio at the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte; Amsterdam, Pulitzer Hotel and Vermeer at the Rijkmuseum; and Istria and Arne Quinze at the Meneghetti Hotel and Winery.
Culturalee’s ‘Insider’ series featuring interesting exhibitions in cultural hotspots around the globe kicks off with; ‘Afro-atlantic Histories’ at the Dallas Museum of Art; Daiara Tukano at Richard Saltoun Gallery in Rome; The Prodigy’s Maxim at The Blender Gallery in Athens; and Rob and Nick Carter in ‘Flower Power’ at the Giverny Museum in France.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got into the arts and creative industries?
Lee Sharrock: When I was at school my favourite subject was art, and I wanted to be a fine artist for a while. I took a foundation course at Norwich University of the Arts, and then I studied History of Art and Italian at University College London (UCL) with a year at the University of Bologna in Italy where I studied Italian Neo-Realist cinema, and art & archaeology. After graduating, I worked at Sotheby’s Auctioneers in the 19th Century European Paintings as an administrator.
I left Sotheby’s to work for the Chairman of M&C Saatchi, because I had an interest in the advertising industry. I spent a couple of years at M&C and at that time went to several exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery, which ignited my interest in contemporary art and led to me finding a job in a small gallery in Mayfair called Laurent Delaye. Laurent represented Grayson Perry before he won the Turner Prize, so I got to work with Grayson and some other interesting artists such as Rut Blees Luxembourg.
I ended up working for the director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), and during my time there I became interested in PR and got involved in arranging the private views and special events. I met some amazing artists and musicians at the ICA including Yoko Ono and the Pet Shop Boys, and my highlights definitely include working on the Pet Shop Boys performance of a new score for ‘Battleship Potemkin’ in Trafalgar Square with the Dresdner Sinfonika, and Yoko Ono’s exhibition ‘Odyssey of a Cockroach’. I had to greet the Directors’ guests at the back entrance of the ICA and bring them to the office in a tiny lift, and I remember being rather tongue tied when I greeted Yoko Ono, and everyone in the meeting hung on her every word when we were discussing the exhibition.
I was tasked with inviting people from the London art scene that Yoko wanted to meet, and I remember that everyone I sent an invite to came to pay homage. The private view was amazing – we had a queue around the block – and the great and good of the art and music worlds came, including David Byrne of Radiohead, Sam Taylor Wood and even Lucien Freud made an appearance. These experiences made me fall in love with the art world.
After the ICA I worked at Timothy Taylor Gallery, starting out on the front desk and then getting involved in the PR, and ending up taking care of press for major artists including Bridget Riley, who was a formidable, inspiring woman and such a talented artist. Bridget told me specifically that she didn’t want to talk to any journalists at the private view, so I briefed the press who attended, but one reporter (who shall remain nameless), ignored my advice and marched up to Bridget to ask a question, and was met by a very frosty reception. However, Bridget was thrilled when I secured page 3 of the Evening Standard to cover the exhibition and joked ironically ‘now I’m a Page 3 girl’!
Then I moved back to advertising and became Head of Global Creative PR at Saatchi & Saatchi where I spent several years. During my time at Saatchi & Saatchi I was responsible for PR of the New Director’s Showcase in Cannes, which spotlighted many amazing directors who went on to have stellar careers. After leaving Saatchi & Saatchi I set up my own business as a Creative PR consultant and curator, and ever since I’ve straddled the worlds of art and advertising, working as a writer, curator and publicist.