London based, Georgina Angus is the Art Prize Manager for the Sovereign Art Foundation (“SAF”). As one might expect when meeting someone “from the arts” she has a fascinating Sovereign Story although not the one we were really expecting. A scientist, her tale includes spells in deepest Africa, on a Spanish mountain with no water and elsewhere before returning to live in West London.
Raised in Wiltshire Georgina followed her passion for science by studying Anatomical Sciences and neuroscience at University. Since graduation, she has taken a range of jobs not, she says, for “flitty floaty” reasons but always with an eye to the next stage in her development.
Georgina’s time at university ended as the effects of the credit crunch were at their worst. Eschewing a career in medicine, she became a freelance nutritional therapist but realised that she was better suited to pharmaceutical medical communications. In 2012, she joined Mudskipper Business where her role was to inform doctors about new drugs on behalf of manufacturers and discovering a talent for organising industry symposia. Specialising on pituitary tumour diseases, this was vital work and very intensive.
Although loving the work, the “nine to five” culture she found was stifling to a creative mind. Additionally, she found that drug companies carved out areas of influence around the world but tended to miss out Africa – a region for which she has always had a keen interest.
Faced with a dilemma, Georgina pondered the available options. She dismissed the first (continuing “as an industry insider”) as it seemed the least palatable route. Second was to consider working in the public healthcare sector in some way. The third option, which she chose to follow, was to undertake work in the charity sector.
She quit her job, travelling to Andasibe in Madagascar some 160km east of its capital Antanarivo. There she spent some time volunteering in a maternity clinic; an experience, she recalls, that was both hugely rewarding and where she learned valuable skills that have served her well to this day.
Georgina followed this by “woofing” (working on organic farms) in Northern Spain. She confesses that her vision included working in France drinking wine at the end of an exhausting day in the grounds of a chateau. Reality struck when she ended up in a mountain hut near Oviedo in Spain with no electricity or running water. Far from picking grapes, she built walls and the like. A battery pack provided power and the kittens kept her company.
Following these experiences, Georgina undertook assignments for different charities in Lebanon, South Africa and St. Lucia all of which allowed her to develop her experience still further.
In 2019, Sovereign’s Chairman and driving force behind the Sovereign Art Foundation, Howard Bilton, was introduced to Georgina. They discovered a shared passion for helping disadvantaged children through art and she began work as a freelancer for SAF.
Her role is to manage the fast growing Student Prize initiative. She spent an initial period in Hong Kong getting to know the Foundation and its work, and looked forward to her return visit in the spring of 2023 following the hiatus caused by the pandemic.
Georgina does not have “typical days” for as she says her work depends on the season. Most of the Student Prizes are awarded from September to February and the rest of the year is taken up with the massive organisation involved.
Much of the rest of the year is spent organising The Norval African Art Prize, a professional art prize that has so far had two editions. The most recent second African Prize having received considerable acclaim. Georgina cites this example to describe how the Foundation benefits local children. Collaborating with the Norval Foundation, in Cape Town’s Tokai district, funds raised by SAF have been donated to the learning centre helping local underprivileged children. Under Norval’s direction, children who would otherwise not have experienced art – still less considered it as a possible career – are exposed at an early age to a diverse, exciting world.
There are ten separate student prizes now and Georgina says that up to another three are set to be launched in the next year or two. The Student Prizes worldwide have become a leading part of SAF’s work and one to which Georgina is clearly so well suited, speaking passionately about the Foundation’s work and its invaluable benefits.
Georgina is one of those fortunate people for whom work is a continuation of their own passion. SAF has opened her eyes to the art scene and her outside work interest is thus “living in London”. Pets do not share her home in West London although she confesses that a dog may make an appearance one day.
Will Georgina live in London forever? Probably not, she says as she admits to missing her Wiltshire home. However, for the present, she is determined to make the most of the opportunities the capital affords.
It was a great pleasure getting to know Georgina and to witnessing first hand her enthusiasm for the role. Not only from us but also on behalf of the children who benefit from SAF’s work, thank you Georgina. Good luck with the Student Prizes in the future and thank you for your time.