I chose to get involved in volunteering at St Albans Museum and Gallery because I love art and history and I wanted to serve the local community. Volunteering has been such a joy! It has been fantastic to have the Town Hall as the new location, fully equipped with many spaces, including a basement gallery for changing exhibitions.
The display Hand Drawn Action Packed, where I have spent most of my time so far, has been curated by Roger Malbert. It was his final exhibition as Head of Hayward Gallery Touring, created in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire. The exhibition brings together ten international artists who all explored different narratives through the medium of drawing. They focus on the human being and display political and social critique, allegory, fantasy and autobiography.
Two volunteers stewarded this exhibition on rotation and every time I was on duty, I found it fascinating to see how visitors engaged with the artworks! One visitor exclaimed to me how she loved the sketchy use of charcoal in the series Untitled (Video Transfers), 2002, by William Kentridge. Another visitor was captivated by Marcel van Eeden's narrative in THE RADIO STATION, 2018, which brings together fact and fiction to tell of a murder victim found in St Albans!
I personally loved the two works by Rinus van de Velde, What still rested me to do in the meantime... and The day I decided to leave my studio for good... 2018, both charcoal on canvas. They appear to tell something of the inner mind of the artist, the human search for meaning and purpose. Sitting on the gallery chair and staring at these works led me to consider how the artist has put together two rectangular canvases for each. Through this, Van de Velde has left a physical gap down the centre of each drawing. This must be intentional. On the left, this gap breaks through the cord of the artist's recording device, shutting down his verbal communication. On the right, the gap slices through the middle of his artwork on his easel, breaking up his visual communication. Van de Velde also writes on this right drawing along the lower ledge, ‘of tourists who would come and look at it from behind a glass plate used for protection.’ This notion of a barrier between the artist and viewer is intriguing. Perhaps the artist is trying to convey something of his ultimate longing for real connection, or more broadly of an artist's struggle to express and to be understood. Maybe both - what do you think?
Volunteering is rewarding. I have had the opportunity to help at Museum Late events, I have networked with artists and I have got to know the local community better. As a volunteer, you will be well supported by a fantastic friendly team who run the Museums. I have enjoyed volunteering with adults of all ages and backgrounds. You are welcome here! If you have an enthusiasm to talk to visitors and to get involved in art, museums and the St Albans community, I highly recommend you volunteer!