In Conversation with Ally Faughnan, founder of The Gallyry

The Gallyry, an online platform which celebrates the work of female and non-binary artists, was conceived last year. As well as having a wide ranging magazine, the platform also produces exhibitions, talks and events to give you an online arts fix.

To mark the occasion of the online magazine's relaunch, its founder Ally Faughnan, an alumni of Strand Magazine, kindly took some time to answer some questions.

Check out The Gallyry here

Firstly, I’d just love to hear a little bit about you, would you be able to introduce yourself a bit? What’s your day to day life looking right now?

Hi, my name is Ally and I’m a writer, editor, and curator on all things arts and culture. My day to day life right now is looking very different to six months ago as I’m working from home for my job in editorial at Google Arts & Culture. On the side, I’m still running The Gallyry as usual, which is a platform I created to celebrate women and non-binary creatives. Mixed in with a bit of cooking, socialising (when Covid allows), and reading, I think this is going to be what my life is life for the near future!

How was your lockdown? And how, and in what ways, did you manage to stay motivated and engaged with the arts?

Lockdown was definitely a challenge to get used to at first but it was actually when we started to gain ‘elements’ of reality back over the summer that I found it the hardest to stay motivated. However, with everyone online and so many new ways to utilise a digital platform, I found it exciting to dive into new projects, such as curating an online exhibition in June and recently relaunching The Gallyry magazine last month.

So, you’re an alum of Strand, it’s really lovely having the opportunity to speak to someone who worked towards the magazine, what position did you have and how do you feel it’s helped prepare you for the world of journalism?

I started writing a few exhibition reviews for the magazine while I was studying for my MA at King’s. After being interested in journalism for so many years while growing up but not writing outside of my course during my BA, getting involved with Strand made me remember how much I loved it and reignited my interest in pursuing a career in the world of media.

The Gallyry is a fantastic platform for women and non-binary individuals, could you potentially tell us a bit about the process of its conception? What emotions did you have to confront starting a project like this?

Following on from writing for Strand and some other small publications, I started to pitch to bigger magazines but was finding it hard to build my portfolio in such a competitive industry. I was also writing my MA dissertation at the time on the representation of feminism in arts journalism and realised that there was a lack of publications dedicated to spotlighting women in the arts. From this, I decided to tackle both issues at once and create my own online publication to write about all the topics I’m passionate about, as well as create a space for others to get inspired and learn about amazing creatives.

It was definitely a scary thing to put myself out there at first as you’re not sure if anyone else will be interested in what you’re doing. But with social media, it has become so easy to find other people who have similar interests as you and I’ve found that as long as I’m enjoying it, then others can see that too!

Congratulations on just relaunching your online magazine, it’s a space full of everything from art to self-care, music to mental health, what would you like readers to take away from this platform? What are your upcoming plans for the Gallyry?

I hope it can be a space to inspire others and show people that there are so many different ways to be creative in the world today. By showcasing those who are already doing amazing things, it also aims to encourage creatives and give them the spotlight they deserve. I’m always looking to be creative with The Gallyry and discover new ways to celebrate creativity. We have a few collaborative projects coming up at the end of this year which is one of my favorite ways to work on new ideas so definitely keep an eye out for them!

What’s your proudest achievement to date? And would you be able to talk a bit about your experience at Google Arts & Culture?

Apart from creating The Gallyry, finding my space in the crazy world of journalism and media has to be one of my proudest achievements. Once I realised that everyone is ‘faking it until you make it’ to a certain extent, I found it a lot harder to have imposter syndrome on putting myself out there as an established writer, editor, and curator.

Working at Google Arts & Culture has also been an amazing experience to be part of an established platform and grow from inside an editorial team. I’ve definitely learned so many things that feed into my other creative work and appreciate the opportunity to have this experience under my belt.

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the arts? What practical skills would you recommend students be curating?

The arts industry is huge and every job, company, and experience will differ so definitely start by simply putting yourself out there – I personally didn’t realise what I was really interested in until I’d given it a go!

Hearing directly from the people in the roles you’re interested in and learning about what working is really like is also important so don’t be afraid to go for a (virtual) coffee with someone, ask for mentorship, or even listen to podcasts and talks from people you admire!

You can find the Gallyry on their platforms here: Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter

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