Hepworth Wakefield Studentship
The Hepworth Wakefield Partnership Studentship will provide the successful applicant with an opportunity to undertake a placement at the gallery. This studentship has a value of £1000 and will be of particular interest to students on the Modern and Contemporary Art pathway.
The Hepworth Wakefield opened in May 2011 and has since welcomed over 2 million visitors. Voted Museum of the Year by Art Fund in 2017, it has been described as 'one of the Top 50 art galleries in the world' by The Times. The gallery is part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle and works in partnership with national organisations including Tate.
The gallery celebrates the life and work of Barbara Hepworth who was born and grew up in Wakefield. It also displays and cares for the Wakefield Permanent Art Collection which consists of over 5,000 works and has a nucleus of Modern British art including work by Henry Moore who was born in Castleford, also part of the Wakefield district. The temporary exhibitions programme showcases solo and group shows of artists based in Britain and abroad based on curatorial research into contemporary and art historical practice. Exhibitions are produced in collaboration with other major organisations in Britain and abroad, and contribute significantly to raising the national and international profile of Wakefield and Yorkshire.
Open to International (including EU) and UK (home) students.
Open to students in the Department of History of Art.
Studentship applications are welcomed from all full-time and part-time students in their second year of study, on the MA in History of Art, or a related pathway degree, regardless of fee status (Home, EU or Overseas).
Application deadline: Monday 18 October 2021, 11am BST
Please submit your CV and an enthusiastic personal statement of no more than 800 words which explains your interest in, and suitability for, this partnership opportunity. In particular, we will be looking for:
- your awareness of, interest in and commitment to the period/theme/collection(s) of the partner institution
- any relevant skills, knowledge and/or experience
- how you see the award fitting in with and facilitating your career plans.
The partnership student will support the research, development and delivery of a major exhibition, as well as undertaking general administrative and collections management work. The successful applicant will be expected to work 15 days from mid-May 2022, ideally stretched over a month, with 3-4 days per week. The placement is timed to take place after the end of the taught component of the MA programme and before dissertation research begins in earnest. The placement would be a mixture of working from home and working in the gallery:
- Assisting with the organization, research, planning and delivery of exhibitions
- Assisting with the development and provision of interpretation and learning resources related to the exhibition
- Researching objects in the collection and supporting with collection and archive database management
- Undertaking research to assist with public enquiries
- Supporting with the general management of the collection that may involve object handling.
The partnership student has the opportunity to work across the Programme team, which includes Collections & Exhibitions, Learning and Public Programmes. However, they will also meet staff from other departments, such as Development, Marketing & Communications and the wider curatorial community through our partnership working with lenders to the exhibition. The student will gain experience in exhibition administration, planning and delivery, including using databases and writing and developing interpretive material for public displays. These transferable skills would be of benefit to students wanting to pursue careers in museums and galleries or in other arts professions.
The student view
Katrina Man, previous recipient of The Hepworth Wakefield Partnership Studentship, found her placement at The Hepworth Wakefield gave her an extremely valuable experience of the practicalities of working in a public art museum, which will be very useful for pursuing a career in the art world.
What were you working on during the placement?
I was mostly working on the then upcoming ‘Lee Miller and Surrealism in Britain’ and ‘Viviane Sassen: Hot Mirror’ exhibitions, helping the curatorial team with any final preparation and the installation of the shows. This included confirming insurance, creating curatorial aids, creating courier information packs and condition checking artworks with a conservator. I also helped to write loan request letters for a future show and worked with documents from the museum’s archive for the then upcoming ‘Giles Round: The Director’ exhibition as well as to research a particular painting in the museum’s collection.
What experiences would you say were the most useful or unexpected?
I found sitting in on various meetings the curatorial team were involved in to be very insightful as they really enhanced my understanding of all of the factors, often very practical factors, that are involved when planning and executing exhibitions and events at a public art institution. When I was working with the archive, I learnt a lot about the core aims of the museum, its history and how it strives to be a valuable resource for the local community of Wakefield. This increased my understanding of the role of a public art museum in its local community and therefore how important it is to ensure that the museum’s exhibitions, events and education programme can engage a range of members of the community as well as attract an international audience.
It was also extremely useful to be involved in many aspects of the planning and installation of the two exhibitions. Whilst I have had lots of experience of executing exhibitions in a commercial gallery context, this was my first time working on an exhibition in a public museum context. The much larger scale and wider audiences of these exhibitions meant that there were many more factors to consider and that the planning and installation is much more in depth than commercial art gallery exhibitions. Working on the insurance, courier information packs and condition checking artworks upon arrival were particularly new and valuable experiences for me.
Who did you work with and how did the institution make use of you?
I primarily worked with the curatorial team, comprising the curators and the gallery technicians. It was brilliant to work very closely with the curatorial team during my time at the museum as I was able to get involved in a wide variety of their roles and I really learnt a lot from everyone. I worked particularly closely with one of the assistant curators who spent a lot of time teaching me the ropes of the day to day running of a public art institution and the specific role of the curators, which I hugely appreciated. Through working closely with the curators, I was able to assist with important tasks that they had not yet completed due to time restraints so I hope that I was able to be of use in the execution of these exhibitions and the preparation for future shows.
What did you value most about your experience with the institution?
I really valued being able to get involved in and learn about the reality of the day to day running of a public art museum, as this experience can only be gained by actually working at an institution. As gaining internships at public art institutions are extremely difficult I was really grateful for the partnership studentship programme for giving us the opportunity to work for an incredible museum such as The Hepworth Wakefield.
How did your work with The Hepworth Wakefield enhance your studies at York?
It was a great opportunity to spent time away from studying in the library and to learn about the art world through more practical tasks and by working in a team. The practicalities of planning and executing exhibitions and events are not covered in the MA programme so it was great to experience this first hand at the museum. As I knew I would be working at the museum in the summer, I made a few trips to The Hepworth Wakefield during my studies, including a course trip with my sculpture module, which proved to be particularly stimulating for this sculpture module as the museum has a brilliant sculpture collection. After seeing the ‘Alina Szapocznikow: Human Landscapes’ exhibition and attending the accompanying conference held at the museum, I wrote about the artist’s work for my sculpture module essay.
In addition, the Hepworth Wakefield placement allowed me to explore a different part of Yorkshire, that of Wakefield, through learning about how the museum preserves and promotes the cultural heritage of Wakefield and acts as an invaluable cultural resource for the community. I also learnt about the city and how it is becoming a prominent cultural hub by attending the Wakefield Artwalk after work one evening. Through my placement, I also learnt more about the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle which enriched my experience of each of the included venues and the Yorkshire art scene at large during my time in York.
Do you feel it has been helpful with career planning or improved your job prospects, and if yes, how?
Absolutely! I now feel significantly more knowledgeable of how a public art museum is run so feel more prepared to apply for jobs in public art institutions. I hope that this placement will demonstrate to employers that I have begun gaining the skills and knowledge required for working in a public art institution, especially as The Hepworth Wakefield is an internationally-renowned art museum. The curatorial team have provided me with some excellent advice regarding pursuing a career in the art world.
Would you recommend it to future students?
If you are interested in working for a museum or gallery in the future, particularly one that specialises in modern and contemporary art, then I definitely recommend applying! It has been a completely invaluable, insightful and thoroughly enjoyable experience and a highlight of my year in York.