Meet The Mentors: Oliver Basciano // The Double Negative Fellowship 2018


We’re lucky to be working with four amazing mentors as part of our (inaugural) The Double Negative Fellowship, including ArtReview´s International Editor, and juror for the 2018 Turner Prize, Oliver Basciano… Could he be mentoring YOU soon?

Oliver Basciano is a writer based in London. Since 2010 he has worked at ArtReview magazine, where he is currently International Editor. He regularly contributes to the news, arts and obituary desks of both the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. His writing has appeared in the Calvert Journal, Spike Art Quarterly, Building Design, Architects’ Journal, Wallpaper, and he has contributed to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and The Last Word, as well as the BBC News Channel and Channel 4 News.

Oliver has essays in monographs on Rana Begum, Shezad Dawood, Secundino Hernandez, Idris Khan, John Kørner, Katy Moran and Djordje Ozbolt. He chaired the 2017 Artes Mundi prize jury and is a member of the 2018 Turner Prize jury.

Throughout this year, Oliver will be mentoring one early career writer from the North of England, as part of The Double Negative Fellowship 2018: a professional development support package for writers that aims to boost their confidence and widen their networks, nationally and internationally.

Oliver told us about his experience of being mentored, and gave us a taste of the support he’ll be offering to our Fellows…

“To have someone exclusively working with me on my writing would have been incredible”

Hiya Oliver! Did you ever have a mentor? If so, what were they like? If not, how do you think you might have benefitted from one at the start of your career?

There was no single person, but I do think of my editors, past and present, as mentors. I think you only really learn how to write through being edited. The process can be hard and frustrating, and one is stuck in this weird paradox of being super annoyed with the person who has challenged your suppositions or highlighted your idiotic sentences, and knowing that in the long run this pain is for your own good.

The problem however is that editors often don’t have a whole lot of time, and when you are starting out there is always someone more experienced that they can turn to who will provide cleaner copy quicker. To have someone exclusively working with me on my writing, without the distractions of actually having to produce a magazine or newspaper, would have been incredible.

If you could, what would you like to tell your younger self?

Write, read, write, read, write, read.

Luckily it’s all my younger-self wanted to do. So he probably would have turned around and snapped “excuse me, can you stop talking, I’m trying to write and read.”

What’s the best bit of practical advice anyone’s ever given you?

Don’t be afraid to pitch. Make it relevant. Don’t follow PR trends. Don’t over complicate things. Every sentence should work hard for its place in copy.

As told to Laura Robertson

The Double Negative Fellowship 2018 aims to discover and encourage new, daring voices from the North of England. A brand new support package for exceptional writers who are interested in art and culture, The Double Negative Fellowship includes one-to-one mentoring from Ellen, plus Stephanie Bailey (Editor-in-Chief, Ocula), Oliver Basciano (International Editor, ArtReview), and Jennifer Higgie (Editorial Director, frieze). Find out more and apply here before 8 July 2018 (12 midnight GMT)

The Double Negative would like to wholeheartedly thank our friends and supporters: Arts Council EnglandArtReviewCreArt (Network of Cities for Artistic Creation), Culture Liverpool, Contemporary Visual Arts Network North West (CVAN NW), Heart of GlassHistory of Art at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool BiennialOcula, and the University of Salford Art Collection; with particular thanks to Sean Durney, Stephanie Bailey, Oliver Basciano, Jennifer Higgie and Ellen Mara De Wachter

Read more about the resulting book, Present Tense, and the authors’ journey through The Double Negative Fellowship.

Arts Council England



Posted on 03/07/2018 by thedoublenegative