The Hepworth Wakefield Partnership Studentship will provide the successful applicant with an opportunity to undertake a placement at the gallery. Open to all full-time and second year part-time Home/EU and Overseas students, this studentship has a value of £1500 and will be of particular interest to students on the Modern and Contemporary Art pathway.
The Hepworth Wakefield opened in May 2011 and since then has welcomed over 1.3 million visitors. Designed by award-winning architect Sir David Chipperfield, it has been described as 'one of the Top 50 art galleries in the world' by The Times and has firmly established itself as a must-see destination for world-class exhibitions and collection displays. It is a registered charity that is funded primarily by Wakefield Council and by Arts Council England as one of its National Portfolio Organisations. The gallery is part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle and works in partnership with national organisations including Tate. In August 2013 it opened a new contemporary exhibition and performance space, The Calder, on the ground floor of a brick warehouse adjacent to Chipperfield’s building.
The gallery celebrates the life and work of Barbara Hepworth who was born and grew up in Wakefield. The catalyst for the new gallery was the Hepworth Family Gift, a unique collection of Hepworth’s working models made mostly in plaster that was gifted to Wakefield by her family. 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. As such, the gallery is in a unique position to explore 20th-century sculptural practice and its legacy through the collection and exhibitions programme.
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 three days a week throughout the months of May and June in preparation for the opening of the exhibition in June 2020. The placement will be timed to take place after the end of the taught component of the MA programme and before dissertation research begins in earnest.
The partnership student will become part of 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.
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.
Studentship applications are welcomed from all full-time students, 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).
Please submit 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
You are advised to consult the information on this webpage, and the gallery’s own website, before you apply. Please email your personal statement to firstname.lastname@example.org by the deadline of 11am (BST) on Monday 21 October 2019.
Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview within the Autumn Term 2019. Please allow time in your diary for travel and attendance and email us (email@example.com) if you have any questions.