In this post Anatasia tells us about her volunteer role in image reproduction at the Whitworth’s Study Centre.
Have you ever wondered what is happening behind the mysterious closed doors of the Study Centre here at the Whitworth? Let me tell you the story of how I found my place at the gallery.
I joined the Whitworth’s volunteer team last summer, determined to gain experience and learn the ins and outs of working in a gallery. I come from a graphic design background, so you can imagine that volunteering in a gallery could seem like a rather drastic change compared to working on a computer 24/7. At first, I signed up to volunteer at a few ongoing events but I was essentially trying to find a balance between something I was interested in and a position in which I could apply my skills. Two months later, our wonderful volunteer manager sent out an email about a new volunteering opportunity that had opened up at the gallery.
As you may already know, the Study Centre is a space for group learning where you can research and study the Whitworth’s exceptional collection of artworks- which range from works on paper to oil paintings, sculpture and textiles. My role is predominantly computer-based, as I assist with the project that involves editing and adding images of works from the collection to the gallery’s internal database system (KE EMU), which also facilitates access to the digital collection on the Whitworth’s website, be it for academic purposes or general interest. Imagine marvelling at high resolution images of Utagawa Hiroshige’s detailed prints or admiring the patterns on an Egyptian linen tunic dating back to the 5–6th century CE, right in the comfort of your own home. Amazing, right?!
Months of volunteering at the Study Centre turned out to be very productive and rewarding. I learned how to use and navigate the collection management software and now the digital collection has been updated with hundreds of new images. I have to say; finding an activity that fits your personality and at the same time allows you to take advantage of your skills and education is very rare, so the thought of returning to the Whitworth and seeing familiar faces is my ray of hope. For now all we can do is wait and try our best to find joy in this new reality, no matter how alien it may seem at first.