Charly Browne and Eva Liss write about their AberForward Experience at the School of Art, Summer 2021

Week 1 and 2

Our first day consisted of observing in detail works from the Derbyshire Schools Library Service collection and writing down their inscriptions and other various notes before unframing the works. As we were removing the works from the frames, we found a Frances Hodgkins collotype behind a Robert Tavener lithograph. This was a great result for the first day, and a lucky start to the internship!

On the second day, we started our main project of photographing various artworks so we could upload them onto the website. We found perfecting the camera settings to be a challenge, but it gave us a great experience learning about photographing artworks hands on. We had some trial and error with the settings but managed to get them near perfect in the end. We also found using studios lights to overcome the cloudy weather improved the image quality.

By the end of the week we had photographed over a hundred artworks. It was a joy to have the opportunity to work up close with all the artworks; many of which we had seen photographs of in lectures but it didn’t come close to seeing the works in person. Our personal favourite out of all the artworks we photographed was a lithograph by James Cresser Tarr of a beautiful sun-lit street in orange and green. We also enjoyed looking at the photography collection, even if the glossy paper did present some difficulties whilst photographing them with the studio lights.

In our second week we were asked to catalogue the artworks accessioned in 2020. It took a great deal of concentration to pair the right catalogue ID with the right artwork. The artworks acquired were mostly prints from the 20th century. It was interesting to find out where they had come from. We discovered that a fair few of the works were actually gifted to the School of Art by either the artists’ estates or collectors.

Our highlight of our first two weeks was helping Karen look for various artworks for her upcoming exhibition on dogs. We found this enjoyable, as it is always fun and exciting to have hands on experience with the artworks, especially the older prints that we usually would not get the chance to see. We also enjoyed settling in and the chats that we had with the lovely School of Art staff.

(Click on images to enlarge them.)

Week 3 and 4

At the start of the third week, we went to the Arts Centre to help Louise Chennell photograph ceramics from Uzbekistan. Whilst working with the ceramics, we found a new appreciation for them and enjoyed asking questions and learning about the various pieces. Also in the third week, we framed various artworks for Karen’s upcoming exhibition.

One of the most useful parts of the placement was when we had a Q&A with the School of Art staff. We found this extremely beneficial to learn more about how the Museum and Gallery functions. It was also useful to hear the staff’s advice and their experiences of working in museums and how they came to the School of Art.

In the last week, Neil demonstrated how to cut a mount. This was a useful skill to learn, although we did find the process challenging! We cut four mounts for a set of Eric Retzlaff photographs of adorable puppies for Karen’s exhibition. We then went on to frame these photographs. It was a satisfying process to work with the artwork until it was completed for presentation in an exhibition. We used the scanner that Neil taught us how to use in week 2 to scan in some botanical prints that are being used for a project in the Old College. We also used photoshop with the scanner to merge separate halves of an image together.

On our final day we helped to dismantle the prior exhibition so that Karen’s dog exhibition could go up. We helped by unscrewing some of the artworks off the walls and we also brought the new artworks into the gallery so that they could be hung. We couldn’t wait to come in a couple of weeks later to see the result of the exhibition.

Our placement at the School of Art was a fantastic experience and we are both so happy we took the opportunity of this internship. We never expected the work to be so varied which made the job very enjoyable and it was a pleasure to work with all of the lovely and welcoming School of Art staff.

(Click on images to enlarge them.)

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