Last week, the School of Art Gallery welcomed five recent undergraduates who are taking advantage of the University’s AberForward Graduate Scheme. They will be working here for a whole month, getting to know all aspects of museum work and hence, gain valuable experience for their future careers.
Today, four of them will introduce themselves here in their own words and might also contribute more to this blog over the next few weeks:
Hello, I’m Meg.
I graduated last July with a BA Fine Art degree. My main focus during my third year was book illustration. I have always had a fascination with illustrated children’s books and the illustrators behind the books we were read to when we were young, so being able to illustrate my own book was a real pleasure (and challenge).
By the time January came in my last year, it dawned on me how I was so close to finishing university so I considered going into teaching but I couldn’t find a suitable course that was nearby. I was also debating whether to apply for a masters degree but I had to think carefully about how that could be financed.
Art has always been my thing – nothing else had ever come close – so I kept a close look out for any freelance illustration work whilst also working in the local pub. After graduation I soon decided to take my creative career into my own hands and in October I set up my first Etsy shop (online market for handcrafters) and website to advertise my art. You have to start somewhere! I now sell greetings cards, watercolour paintings and other bits and bobs on my shop. It is doing fairly well – I shipped my first international sale to Texas just last week!
This was not the only thing that came about however. I received a letter from the School of Art in September informing me about the AberForward Graduate Scheme. I was aware of the scheme when I graduated and thought it was a good opportunity for anyone who was in a similar position to me. I had a look at what was available on the scheme and there were so many positions up for grabs in nearly every department in the University. If you wanted some experience in a library environment you could apply for that, if you wanted to try out a placement with sports you could have a go at that. The opportunities are near enough endless. I went ahead and applied to the positions that were placed with the Art Department. Much to my joy I managed to get a placement not just with the School of Art but also with the New Welsh Review magazine. I was to be the Department Technician, Administrator and Multimedia Support Officer. Fancy, I know.
I’ve been placed in charge of animating two short stories for the multimedia section on the New Welsh Review’s website. The first story is about a tribute band of The Beatles. At the moment I’m drawing scenes frame by frame and waiting to experiment with Adobe After Effects to see what I can do! This is the perfect time to practice not only more drawing but also develop my animation skills.
Even if you feel like you’re not doing what you had pictured, life has a funny way of working out!
Charlotte May Meddins
for the next couple of weeks I’ll be writing blog entries for the Aberystwyth School of Art. My name is Charlotte Meddins, and I am a recent Fine Art/ Art History graduate here on the AberForward Graduate Scheme. Throughout my time here my official title will be Curatorial and Technical Support Officer. I will be in charge of cataloguing and digitizing new works acquired for the collections; bringing existing documentation and digitization up to date such as Erich Retzlaff’s (1899- 1993) pre-war and post-war negatives; learning how to make conservation mounts for works of art on paper; assisting in taking down the Anna Noel: Telling Tales exhibition and putting up an exhibition in the Ceramics Gallery at Aberystwyth Art Centre. I will also assist Phil Garratt with day-to-day tasks in the workshop and with the preparation for a health and safety audit. Throughout this blog I’ll be discussing what the method is for digitizing Erich Retzlaff’s and Hans Saeben’s work, how you safely and properly pack and unpack an exhibition and how you make conservation mounts; all whilst discussing the School of Arts vast collection and the day-to-day running of the department.
After graduating in the summer of 2016 from Aberystwyth School of Art my passion for creating paintings and my history of art studies continued as I pursued life as an artist. Throughout my degree, the Art Department had transformed my learning and provided such a wealth of information, support and encouragement. To hear over the telephone a few months later from the AberForward team that I could have a month long internship with the School of Art was such a joy!
Today is my second day of a four-week internship working with Phil Garett assisting with a variety of work in the department, including the changing over of exhibitions, basic woodwork, studio maintenance and working with the School of Art collection. This placement is important for me to learn more about the role of an art technician and curatorial work to assist my practice as a full-time artist. Throughout the next few weeks here I am also keen to learn more about some of the unique objects and curiosities in the museum collection. In the final semester of my degree, my research essay focussed upon the painting Stoney Shore by Mildred Eldridge, which is here in the School of Art collection. Observing and viewing artworks first hand is key for me to understanding the artist’s intentions and concepts behind the work. Being part of the School of Art that regularly changes work, provides fresh research to beloved artworks is something central to my way of learning.
Throughout my placement I will be working in the School of Art building, so if you are interested in the AberForward scheme or have any questions for a graduate Fine Art and Art History student, then I would be delighted to chat. Keep following my blog posts here as I shall be writing more about the Internship and the artworks in the School of Art museum.
As a lover of lost and forgotten things, working in the School of Art collections seemed like a dream come true. Having access to artworks that are so rarely brought out of their boxes and to nosey around things that so few students get the chance to see is absolutely thrilling.
After I graduated from the University last summer, I worked in a series of full-time jobs that, unfortunately, had no relevance to my degree, but helped me stay financially afloat while I planned my next step. Being offered a place within the collections has given me the boost to pursue a career in curating.
So far, I have mainly been helping Christopher Webster Van Tonder with his research project on the work of Erich Retzlaff. I have been digitizing the photographs, scanning in the negatives to create the positive images, which will then be made into a database of Retzlaff’s work. Knowing that these images, in their original state, have rarely been seen by the public, and that we are preserving them for future generations to admire, gives the work (which is often incredibly repetitive) a large amount of satisfaction to it.
Hopefully technology will play nicely with me and I can keep you all updated on the progress of this project!