Diary of a Gallery Assistant

Hello there and welcome to the New Focus blog. My name is Asiya Hussain and I shall be keeping you updated on the exciting and interesting things that happen here at the gallery. Before we move onto what I do here, let me first introduce Impressions Gallery.

Impressions Gallery is an independent, not-for-profit space for contemporary photography. It’s mission is “to show photography that gets you looking, thinking and talking.”
I am a Gallery Assistant as part of the ‘Creative Employment Internship’, which is a programme by the Arts Council England, supported by Bradford Council, to support the creation of traineeships, formal apprenticeship and paid internship opportunities in England for young unemployed people aged 16-24 wishing to pursue a career in the arts and cultural sector.

I am also a New Focus member as well so I suppose I have the best of both worlds.

14th April 2016 – New Focus Meeting about ‘No Man’s Land: Women’s Photography and the First World War:

This meeting was based on discussing the new project No Man’s Land: Women’s Photography and the First World War, which our Head of Programme, Pippa will be curating for next year.

The aim of the exhibition is to explore gender: to consider what we think of as masculine or feminine in relation to war and war photography. Although most histories emphasise the experience of male soldiers, women were fundamentally involved in the war as well.

This project delves into the elements of war that aren’t well known to the public. This should be a really exciting project for New Focus to get their hands on!
With the arrival of some new members to the New Focus team, discussing the new project went better than I expected. Thanks to the introduction of the project from Pippa and Jennifer, everyone was extremely responsive and they were really eager to get started.
We discussed areas such as the barriers this exhibition might have with the younger people and what would interest young people about the exhibition. As soon as the paper came out to make some notes, all the thoughts and ideas just started pouring out from the team.
The project itself sounded really interesting as it contained some intriguing issues that could be explored from different angles. By the end of the meeting, you could tell that everyone left feeling positive and inspired. Can’t wait to get started now!

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23rd April 2016 – Altered Images: Photocollage Workshop

To get people more in touch with their creative side and to get a better understanding of the exhibition Passion: Maud Sulter, there was a special workshop for everyone to enjoy and get really stuck into it. Inspired by the photocollages in Syrcas by Maud Sulter, we held a photocollage workshop within the gallery space, open for everyone of all ages to come and join and to also get inspired by the current exhibition.

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A photocollage is a work of art created by overlapping various materials that aren’t normally associated with on another, such as newspaper clippings and parts of photographs, onto a single image.

Today was definitely a day to come to the gallery and get creative. The photocollage workshop with Bradford based artist Jean McEwan was met with a lot of positive feedback as quite a few people from different age and ethnic groups came over to take part. There were some really good collages created, some were postcards and others were A4 size, and it was great to see everyone getting inspired and involved.

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This image is very clever as they have managed to combine images that contadict each other but also compliment each other at the same time.

 

27th April 2016 – Tour of Bradford College of Art

Today, myself and some of the Impressions team ventured out to Bradford College School of Art, as we want to have a better understanding of what they have to offer and to hopefully work in partnership with them in the near future. And we’re always looking for new members to join New Focus so it seemed like the perfect location to share some info.

It was really interesting to see the different departments within the Bradford College of Art, and the different facilities and resources they had available for their students. It was also fun to see all the art students working hard on their projects. It was great to see all the different studio and exhibition spaces they had; their photography studio for instance was very impressive, looked almost like a studio fashion shoot.
Personally, my favourite part of the tour was the textile archive in the Old Building. We were able to take a look at some of the art books belonging to students from the 1900s and the quality of work was astonishing. There was one portfolio that was filled with samples of silks and some beautifully embroidered pieces that were just so colourful. It definitely made you feel inspired.

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5th May 2016 – Meeting with the Peace Museum

Following from the success of the New Focus meeting in discussing the new project of No Man’s Land and the different approaches that New Focus can take on it, the next step was to meet up with a potential partner in the project, the Peace Museum. The plan was to tell them about the project and see if they would be able to partner up and if they could contribute something towards it.

From a personal point, it was great to revisit the Peace Museum as I had volunteered there 2 to 3 years ago. Quite nostalgic… The members of the museum who greeted us were extremely friendly and very enthusiastic about the project. They were definitely all for New Focus getting involved with the Peace Museum. They want us to use their archive and that sounded really exciting, you never know what amazing object you could find. Their overall aim in allowing us access to their archive is to make archives in museums more welcoming and accessible for public use.
Some of the objects they had in their archives were really incredible. One of the pieces that we were able to see was some sort of stamping block that had the image of a photograph on the base – the photograph was of a women’s peace group. The image was very intricate.

The meeting overall went very well and hopefully we’ll be working closely with the Peace Museum in the near future!

 

6th May 2016 – Time for Tea

With every new exhibition in the gallery, we set up the special event of Time for Tea. This event is for over 55s but everyone is welcome to come along to the gallery, have some lovely cake, a cup of tea or coffee and to take a look around the new exhibition.

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This Time for Tea event was a little bit more busy than usual due to the glorious weather outside. It’s always great to see familiar faces and also new faces arriving at the gallery and enjoying each other’s company. But I was feeling a bit nervous as I had to help Angela, our Programme Co-ordinator, deliver a short talk about the exhibition. We spoke about the individual projects within Passion, explaining how they all represent the significance of black women in history. I spoke about the projects Hysteria, Zabat and a little bit on the Alba Sonnets. I was just hoping that I was able to remember the key points throughout the talk.
It went really well and the event ended with some creative activities; doing some photocollage work and writing some poetry.
Majority of people present immediately took part in the photocollage workshop, there were definitely some interesting pieces made.

I’d have to say that this was probably our most creative Time for Tea yet! Hope there are more to come.

 

12th May 2016 – The Touring Exhibition Group (TEG) at Impressions Gallery

Today was a very busy day for the gallery as we hosted the event for the Touring Exhibition Group to come together and meet.
Now just a little bit of info about TEG, they are a network of museums and galleries from across the UK and their main aim is committed to exchanging exhibitions as a means on sharing ideas, materials and resources.

In order for them to share their ideas with others, once a year, all the organisations come together at an event know as ‘TEG Marketplace’ and this is open to everyone with an involvement or interest in touring exhibitions.

It’s amazing that Bradford were the hosts for the Marketplace and Impressions Gallery were hosting the first day of it. I’ll have to admit that I was surprised at seeing so many people attend the event; the gallery was just swamped with so many people from different organisations from all over the country. Wow! It was definitely filled with a lot of excited chatter and it was great to see a lot off people attend the event and share their ideas.

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