Behind the Scenes at Gillman Barracks: Meet Deborah Demaline

By Singapore Arts Club

Feb 14th, 2017 11:00 AM

Deborah Demaline | Head of Sales, FOST Gallery

“My grandmother is a painter and my mother is a watercolor artist, so I'd say the interest for visual arts runs in the family. I have no talent when it comes to producing art myself, but I have a great deal of respect for creative people. I wanted to be part of it, somehow. Artists need platforms to reach out to their audiences, so I thought working for an art gallery would make sense. 

I had my first internship in a gallery in Paris in 2001, at Galerie Jerome de Noirmont. I was studying arts managements in Paris and spent two days a week learning the trade on the spot. At first, I was just running errands for the team, but eventually the gallery manager trusted me with new tasks and it became the foundation of my career. I learnt how to handle artworks, listened to what was happening in the office and contributed to the best of my young abilities to help run operations smoothly. I continued gathering experience through internships until I graduated in 2006, so the transition to a full time position was seamless. After my studies in Art History in France, travelled extensively, lived for a couple of years in New York and been living in Singapore for six years now. I think of this mobility as an asset.

My previous work experiences, including the plethora of students jobs I’ve had, from pasting posters on the streets to conducting surveys, working as a secretary for a car concession as well as waitressing – all of these taught me the different facets of the service industry and how to adapt quickly to any possible situation. I don't have preconception of what people know (or should know) when they look at art. I never assume anything and I ask a lot of questions! Your background shapes greatly the way you understand what surrounds you and everyone sees things differently. I'm pretty good at making analogies, which turns out is a very useful skill when you're trying to communicate a complicated concept to a young public! 

Working in an art gallery, it is essential to be able to multi-task. It is very easy to overlook details when you handle multiple projects simultaneously. That's why its always a good idea to flatten out every piece of information and make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of what you are dealing with. I have an amazing visual memory but I am really bad with names and numbers. If I don't write things down, I'll forget it all within minutes. I have a self-regenerating collection of to do lists and notes on pieces of paper around me all the time!”


Portrait shot by Natsuko Teruya
Makeup by Kelvin Khoo