Olive Elston

My Summer Internship at ONCA

By Olive Elston

This summer I had the opportunity to work for ONCA as part of the University of Sussex’s First Generation Scholars summer internship programme.

I was drawn to ONCA because I liked that it creatively and collaboratively focuses on and explores social and environmental issues. I intend to work in the humanitarian/ social sector after I graduate, and after doing this internship, I have further realised that I want to incorporate a creative element into the career I pursue. Having the opportunity to see how a charity such as ONCA runs and organises itself was an eye-opening and educational experience.

Ananya Rao- Middleton

From the get-go, the staff were incredibly welcoming and lovely; I instantly felt comfortable and quickly got into the office routine. I loved how varied the internship was, as every day involved a different task, ranging from general maintenance such as painting, to doing research for upcoming projects or helping out with art exhibitions and events. I had the opportunity to work with lovely artists including Ananya Rao-Middleton (above) and Kate Sherman (below). Talking to them and understanding the inspirations behind their work gave me interesting insights into the art world.

Kate Sherman

Educationally, my awareness and understanding of the environment, climate change, and its social repercussions, has greatly improved as a result of working at ONCA. The first event I helped out with was with Tara Mariwany, who spoke about her involvement in the protest against BP in the British Museum. It was interesting to learn about the style of protest adopted, as well as to gain a better understanding into BP’s history with Iraq and its detrimental consequences on the communities living there.

The exhibition ‘Extracting Us’ (above) was another informative project that I was fortunate enough to help out with. I learnt about the social consequences of coal extraction in Indonesia, and on a wider scale, how important it is to recognise and bring to light social injustices when talking about the environment.

Lush 1

Some of my favourite moments during my internship were helping out at the ONCA Lush takeover and making smoothies for the Brighton Hospital staff. The overall experience has been enlightening in understanding and seeing how a variety of topics and discussions can be facilitated in a gallery space. Working alongside some PermaVoles and another Sussex intern, Emma, made my ONCA experience even more enjoyable. The internship has been important in preparing me for the world of work after I graduate, one which I hope will hold similarities to the great time I have had at ONCA.