Charlotte Trapp, the 2013-14 recipient of the mima Partnership Studentship, found her placement at mima gave her a wealth of opportunities which have provided her with valuable practical experience of working in a gallery, and which directly informed her career choices.
What are you currently working on?
"I am currently working on artwork interpretations for the newly launched mima website. I have been focusing on the fine art collection, which is where my specific interests lie, and was given a list of 150 priority works to research. This has involved utilising many of the resources available at mima as well as spending a lot of time with the actual art works in the art stores. The result of this work is that these priority works will each have 200 word interpretations to go alongside them on the website. I have also helped with the installation and change-over of 2 exhibitions, helping to both install and wrap artworks."
What has been the highlight of your work at mima so far?
"The highlight has been being able to help the conservators stretch a huge William Tillyer painting back on to its supports, ready for the opening of the exhibition."
What experiences would you say have been most useful or unexpected?
"I have had such a broad range of experiences at mima, being given opportunities to help with all aspects of work in a gallery. The most unexpected experience however was being allowed to help with exhibition change over, and meet the artist William Tillyer himself. Whilst helping to unwrap his works, he discussed the pieces with me and another intern, which gave us unparalleled insight into the exhibition."
Who do you work with and how does the institution make use of you?
"I work with the curatorial team, which is why I have been able to be so involved in exhibitions. The research I do for them, as mentioned before, is for the website which was only launched a couple of months after I had been here. Therefore, the interpretations that I am writing for them will be the first to be put on the website. The aim is that the collection can become more interactive, and people will be able to use the website to understand the collection. These interpretations are the first stepping stone, which will hopefully develop into a comprehensive website, bursting with information about the collection.
My dissertation will be focusing on some of the works on paper in the fine art collection, by Carl Andre and Robert Smithson. This research will also help mima as these works have not been written about as a comparative study, and will go towards the artist’s files within the gallery."
What do you value most about your experience with the institution?
"The thing I most value about my experience here is the responsibilities I have been given. The contact with the curatorial team has been fantastic, and I am constantly being offered new opportunities within the gallery. Whether it is to help with the installation of an exhibition or helping out in conservation, the broad range of experiences I have been offered have been fantastic. Working so closely with the curatorial team has allowed me to gain a great amount of experience into what it is like to work in gallery."
How has your work with mima enhanced your studies at York?
"My work with mima has overlapped remarkably well with my studies in York. Having studied modules on modern and contemporary art, the artists I have been researching for the website interpretations has overlapped every week with the works we have been looking at in seminars. This has been incredibly beneficial for my studies as I have been able to bring different perspectives to both areas - research from my mima interpretations has been able to provide new insight into the works discussed in seminars, and vice versa. For example, for my module on Installation/Participation I was able to focus my assessed essay on the sculpture ‘Bottle of Notes’ by Claes Oldenburg which is placed just outside mima. This will also be put in the artist’s file."
Do you feel it has been helpful with career planning or improved your job prospects, and if yes, how?
"Yes. Being able to work within the gallery office and with the curatorial team I have gained a real insight into what would be expected of me in a gallery work environment. Consequently, after graduating from my masters, working within a gallery is an avenue of work I definitely want to pursue."
Would you recommend it to future students?
"Yes! Definitely! Not only because of all the experiences that I have been offered here but also because this partnership really enforces the centres for modern art in the north of England. Despite York being better known for its Medieval studies, I have been able to pursue a modern art pathway, which has only been strengthened through my work with mima."