Week Two highlight – Research and Cultural Collections

My second week was a busy one too, particularly at my home base in the Research and Cultural Collections department.

I continued work on my collection survey of the University Heritage storage area and was also introduced to a new project, for which I will curate a small online exhibition of works in RCC’s collection by John Walker. Not only is Walker a prominent Birmingham artist but he was also Dean of the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne from 1982 to 1985! It will be interesting to explore his connection with Australia, which has significantly influenced his work.

John Walker, The Blue Cloud, polyptych, panel 4 of 15, 1996, oil on canvas. The University of Birmingham.

My week has also been filled with a number of wonderful activities, all organised by the RCC. During the week I joined in on some training sessions with participants of the Cultural Internship Scheme. This program offers six-month paid placements with various cultural institutions in Birmingham to recently graduated University of Birmingham students. Securing one of these internships is highly competitive but rightly so, as they offer comprehensive training and professional development opportunities in the cultural sector. I took part in sessions exploring exhibition planning and development, exhibition interpretation and the use of museum objects as tools for learning and communication. I also joined my fellow interns on an evening trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost, which had been set against the beautiful backdrop of a local manor house just prior to the First World War. It was very special to see a Shakespeare play performed in the famous playwright’s hometown!

The beautiful set for the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Love's Labour's Lost. Set at Charlecote Park in nearby Warwick. Photograph by Amy Walsh.
The beautiful set for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, using Charlecote Park in nearby Warwick as a backdrop. Photograph by Amy Walsh.
The set for Love's Labour's Lost. Photograph by Amy Walsh.
The set for Love’s Labour’s Lost. Photograph by Amy Walsh.

The 21st of January marked Museum Selfie Day. In order to showcase the University’s collections to RCC’s online and social media community, Clare Marlow, Anna Young, Nadia Awal and I got to go on an adventure around campus and take selfie style photos with various sculptures. It might sound like we were just out having fun (which it was!) but social media engagement is now a vital part of community outreach for museums and galleries, something that RCC are employing with great effectiveness. Click on the following links to have a look at RCC’s website, blog site and Flickr gallery. They are also on Facebook and Instagram.

Behind the scenes! Holding the selfie stick and trying to hide behind the sculpture as Clare takes the photo. Photograph by Nadia Awal.
The finished product! Bernard Sindall, Girl in a Hat, 1972, bronze. The University of Birmingham. Photograph by Clare Marlow.

My week ended on a very special note. I was lucky enough to visit local couple Mike and Theresa Simkin and to see Mike’s beautiful collection of magic lanterns and other visual illusion paraphernalia. Mike has been collecting lanterns since 1969 and often used the slides in his drawing and painting classes. His collection tells the story of pre-cinema entertainment and the development of the moving image, with a significant focus on local Birmingham makers and lantern performances held in the city. You can see a video about Mike and his wonderful collection below.