Oli Tratt

February 22, 2022

Spotlight on Oli Tratt, Site Manager

In this month's 'Spotlight On' blog post, we speak with Oli, one of our Site Managers who joined Factory Settings last year. He talks to us about his role and working on projects for heritage and cultural institutions.

Oli, Site Manager

Can you tell us about your role at Factory Settings? 

I joined as an Assistant Site Manager at Factory Settings, brought on as part of a six month programme to develop my skills in site management to become a fully fledged Site Manager by the end of the six months. In this role I take on the responsibilities of site management both in assisting my colleagues in the site team and in managing my own projects. As part of the site team, we collaborate with the Projects, Production and Draughting teams to ensure that all the hard work that happens off site is translated correctly to site and finished to the high standard our clients expect in a way that is professional, efficient and safe.

Talk to us about your work history before Factory Settings and how your experience has given you the necessary skills needed for your new role with us? 

My career in the set and temporary structures industry is built on my studies at Rose Bruford College where I studied Scenic Arts (Construction, Props and Painting) BA (Hons). From my degree I came straight into the world of professional set building and fit out, working for a range of clients in a variety of industries, from fashion to medical to art installation. Joining Factory Settings I am able to reconnect with the theatricality of my studies and utilise that experience alongside the skills I have developed professionally to engage with the storytelling and communication element of presenting an exhibition.

Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, ©Victoria and Albert Museum 2019

What would be your dream project to work on?

I was drawn to Factory Settings by the impressive back catalogue of work in museums and galleries, particularly large scale creative exhibitions like the Tim Walker exhibition at the V&A, a show I remember as one of the best exhibitions I have been to in recent years. It’s these big creative projects in cultural institutions that I am keen to be involved in and if the subject matter is something that I am passionate about then even better. So maybe the dream project would be a large theatrical Buster Keaton exhibition at the Barbican Centre.

Factory Settings has completed exhibition fit outs for many of the major museums in the UK. What are the key sensitivities required when working in a museum setting?

There are a number of key sensitivities working in a museum setting. One of the main priorities is the objects themselves. A lot of the items we work around and build exhibitions for are extremely fragile and require special attention, a big part of this is the choice of construction methods and materials for showcases to ensure a controlled environment for object display. Not only are the objects often fragile but these old museums we work in can also require particular attention to ensure they are looked after throughout our time working in them. The history of the buildings can also present unique access challenges, when they were built no one was considering whether they could squeeze an articulated lorry round to the back of the museum or how to get 10ft wall panels down 3 floors and out of the building to meet the articulated lorry. These challenges are just part of the fun and part of the charm of working in these historic environments.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

In my spare time, much like in my professional life, I enjoy going round galleries and museums, I recently stopped in at the Royal Academy to see the Summer Exhibition. I’m also a regular at the theatre, at the cinema and in the swimming pool and I’ll always try to grab a couple of tickets whenever my favourite bands are in town.

What is your favourite thing about your job? 

It’s fascinating to see behind the scenes in all of the heritage and cultural institutions where we work and to be a part of impressive, creative projects, the finished product can always make the hard work worthwhile.

Peru: A Journey in Time, © 2021 Trustees of the British Museum

Favourite Factory Settings' project?

It’s still early days in my time at Factory Settings and it sounds like there are a lot of exciting projects coming up in the new year but this year it was great to be involved in the Peru exhibition at the British Museum. It was interesting to get to work in the museum over a number of days and it never grew old walking into the Great Court each morning and looking up through the ceiling, which is impressive even on a grey day and even more special when the doors haven’t yet opened to the public for the day.

Oli Tratt

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