New Focus Journey by Asiya Hussain

When you’re in university, college or trying to find work after you’re done with your GCSEs, you’re usually told that you need some work experience to impress the employers or else you’ll never find any work. Seems a bit harsh but I suppose that’s the hard truth in the working world. When it comes to looking for somewhere to do work experience or voluntary work, that’s where it gets a little tricky as you need to know which organisations accept volunteers.

Now here’s where New Focus comes in. Looking back to when I first joined New Focus, I have to admit that as an individual, I have changed dramatically from the skills I’ve learnt and the people I’ve met. Rather than being labelled as the volunteer group within the Impressions Gallery, I feel that New Focus has become its own little entity as the volunteers as able to contribute so much towards the exhibitions and events being held.

There are numerous roles within New Focus that volunteers can apply for as they vary from Events Assistant to Photographer. Even then, it feels like within New Focus your role becomes flexible as you begin to help out with different areas in the gallery – well that’s been my experience of it so far and it’s all been beneficial. From my experience of being a New Focus member, I have gained a number of valuable skills that have become quite handy when working on different projects. For example, projects that involve you working face-to-face with the public requires a certain skill set in treating them fairly and equally and making sure that their needs are met.
New Focus have been involved with a lot of amazing projects that have been connected with past exhibitions and from a personal point of view, each project has been different and brilliant as they all bring in something new (and quirky at times).

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Looking back at some of the projects I have been involved with throughout my New Focus journey, I can definitely say that I was happy to be involved with such creative projects and to have the opportunity in meeting people who are also just as enthusiastic as you are. As blogger for New Focus, the first project that I worked on was the blog posts for the events Artist Talk and Feed Your Mind for the exhibition Beyond the Border by Document Scotland. These were fun to work on considering that this was my first time writing anything for the gallery. But it was also my first time in attending these events so I wanted to make sure I did a really good job with the posts.
It’s fun to write blog posts on the different exhibitions, but it’s also great to have them displayed in a different form – I was able to get my article on the exhibition Realism in Rawiya published in the Bradford Review through the help of Impressions Gallery. May not seem like an impressive achievement for some people, but I took it as being a massive accomplishment for myself.

Along with writing blog posts, New Focus allows you to become fully emerged within the new projects and I feel that the Bradford Video Portraits is a perfect example of this. This project was like a smaller version of The Caravan Gallery’s exhibition, extra{ordinary} Photographs of Britain as it explored the different and wonderful elements of Bradford. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this as we were able to travel around Bradford and hear what the lovely Bradfordians had to say about their town. There were so many hidden gems that were revealed through this project and from a Bradfordian perspective, it was amazing to learn about the new and quirky facts about Bradford. I enjoyed how New Focus took control in deciding on the locations to go to, the dates for the filming and the final editing.

You can take a look at the full video here

New Focus has opened up some amazing opportunities, one of them being the paid post of the graduate internship in partnership with Bradford University. This position has allowed me to build on the skills I’ve learnt in New Focus and to develop them further. It has also allowed me to become more involved with the installation and preparation of future exhibitions, for example, building up the Artist Folder and helping Impressions’ colleagues with collecting valuable artwork for exhibitions. The role of Gallery Assistant has also given me a better and clearer understanding of the aim behind the gallery and how we reach out and work with the public.

There’s also the fun of being able to go to events related to the gallery. The event of ARTIST ROOMS engage Yorkshire Area Group Event: Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy was based on voluntary groups working within museums and galleries in Yorkshire. This was staged in the beautiful and historic building of the Hospitium which is set within the beautiful Museum gardens. I have to admit that at first, it did seem a bit daunting. I was a bit nervous about doing a presentation in front of the many galleries and museums within Yorkshire. Organisations such as Cartwright Hall, Leeds Gallery, York Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture park were present and waiting to hear us speak. (Not scary at all.) One gallery did their presentation before us and halfway through it I was just thinking,”Whoa! This is really impressive. What am I supposed to say?!”

But once we got up in front of everyone and began our presentation, it actually went really well as the majority of the people present were really impressed with the projects we had done. Afterwards, we received a lot of praise for our presentation and it was amazing to see members from different organisations approach us and to say that they were inspired in some way to take a different approach towards their youth groups in galleries and museums.

So far, being with New Focus has brought in a lot of fun adventures. Can’t wait to see what else it will bring in!

 

 

 

 

 

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