Alumna says ‘fascinating’ to get work experience at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts – read her behind the scenes report

Abigail Whittle was at the City of Wolverhampton College when she took part in ARTiculation 2018 at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts speaking on Sonia Boyce in an eloquent talk called Black Female Hairstyles, 1995 (Wolverhampton Art Gallery). She recently did work experience at The Baber Institute of Fine Arts with support from ARTiculation and reported on her adventure.

On the first day after becoming acquainted with the history of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and its collection on current display, I was set with the task to research the first four paintings bought by the gallery. I put this research together in a document to support future talks and enable better analysis of the paintings, which, I was told, would be ‘performed’ in the coming months. This proved to be a fascinating learning experience, as I learnt how to utilise each painting’s gallery files containing past research collated by the gallery, as well as coming in contact with reliable sources and utilising observation skills to summarise key details included within each painting. On the second day, I had the opportunity to attend a gallery meeting, and from this I learnt about the different roles required within a gallery and how the team are able to discuss their work diaries in order to properly manage their time based on events ongoing during the week and coming months. I also had the wonderful opportunity to help out during the summer art school held at the gallery, which was especially interesting because it taught me how to help out younger age groups and to make a frame for an altarpiece made out of mod-roc. This took patience and careful consideration of explanation tactics as well as organisational skills to prepare the workroom with the right materials for the children in both the morning and afternoon classes. Ultimately, I really enjoyed helping out the summer art school classes and feel I have gained a substantial amount of transferrable skills from my time during my work placement.

More information: Black Female Hairstyles, 1995 is part of the Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s wider collection directly linked to the BLK Art Group and was purchased as part of the Black Art Project funded by the HLF Collecting Cultures scheme. The BLK Art Group started in Wolverhampton in 1979 and the artists’ had their first exhibition at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery. 




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