New Members of the Archive Team

02 May 2014

This year, the Archive Team has expanded to enable the Gallery to meet the increased workload for 2014. Becky Sexton interviews the new volunteers about their roles.

In January the RBSA’s Volunteer Archive Team welcomed three new volunteers: Alice Watkins, Emily Robins and Tate Gronow. They each help with research, enquiries and database tasks.

Final year History of Art student, Alice Watkins, previously volunteered as an RBSA Young Curator (2013) to curate The Art of Clay exhibition with three other students. Determined to continue volunteering at the RBSA Gallery, she applied for the role of Archive Team Volunteer when the opportunity arose.

Alice Watkins OS

(Archive Team Volunteer, Alice Watkins)

Alice outlines that her role entails: checking the Archive books, writing down requests and responding to new queries or questions - ‘if researching an artwork or artist as part of the enquiry, I will begin the search by checking the list of Members and Associates online to narrow down the search,’ before using other sources within the archives such as the files containing previous enquiries, and old minutes books and catalogues of all the past RBSA exhibitions. This gives an indication of the work exhibited, the date and the price. If there is enough relevant information, Alice will compile a report and send it back to the enquirer. Emily Robins, also a History of Art undergraduate particularly enjoys writing articles for the RBSA Highlights of the Collection and undertaking independent research.

One of Alice’s search requests led to a discovery that the artist she was researching also had a family member that exhibited at the RBSA Gallery at the same time. ‘This was exciting news to the person interested, and led me to investigate their paintings too.’

What has been their favourite aspect of volunteering? Emily says: ‘I didn’t expect to be given so much freedom from the offset. I like being able to work independently and conduct research on behalf of customers. I had no idea that the RBSA was such a prevalent and exciting part of local history.’ Alice appreciates that she has been given this ‘great opportunity’ with ‘internships being hard to come by.’ As a member of the Archive Team she can ‘gain valuable experience amongst the Archives and the Permanent Collection, and also an understanding of the MODES database that is used in collections and galleries across the country.’ 

For upcoming volunteer opportunities at the RBSA Gallery please click here.

For more information about the RBSA’s Collection and archive, please click here.