What I’ve Learnt: Alistair Hudson

May 3, 2017

Do everything to the best of your ability or you won’t sleep at night. The great art dealer Anthony d’Offay told me that and he was right. I worked with him for seven years and it was the most comprehensive education I got in the workings of the world.

You need creativity and a good aesthetic to run a successful business. By this I mean how people relate in a sensory way to what you do. All the big companies – Apple, VW, Tesla and Facebook – get it. Those that don’t usually come a cropper.

Economics is not just about money. In its truest sense, it is a much more holistic idea of ‘good housekeeping’ – how we maintain a good society, environment and relations between people. John Ruskin wrote about this in his Unto This Last as a response to Adam Smith, but no one really listened. Given the mess the planet is in now, I wish we had!

There’s no such thing as mistakes – as long as you learn from them. I’m always amazed by people who have risen again after falling spectacularly.

My advice if you’re thinking of starting a company is to go for it. Someone has to.

Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. That’s the motto of the primary school my children went to. I think it’s great.

Give back what you take out and spend your money well. I see so many rich people spending money badly – I was discussing with a fellow museum director the other day about starting a taste police for wealthy art collectors.

Support others in your sector. The art world is a very generous place on the whole. mima is part of a very strong network of over 30 museums in the UK and overseas and we talk to one another and give support to one another all the time.

I strive for a nurturing environment, where everyone feels they can make a contribution and has a voice. The relationship between how much you contribute and health is well proven.

Encourage a sense of being part of something, a mission or a cause. In terms of mima, this means not art for art’s sake, but a way of making social change through education, making, creativity – and injecting more thoughtfulness and consideration into the world. This has made mima quite a ‘thing’ nationally and internationally, and I think there is some excitement about shaping it – even though it is a lot harder and more complicated that nailing pictures to a wall.