5 September 2018
by Isabella Rosner
When I started my MPhil in History of Art and Architecture at Cambridge last October, I was looking for an activity I could do to get me out of my own academic bubble, but one that wouldn’t take up too much of the precious time I needed to work on my writing. After spending much of my undergraduate career in America doing student theatre, I was eager for a change. One day during Michaelmas term, I scrolled through Twitter and found a Tweet that inadvertently shaped much of my year in Cambridge.
The Tweet announced upcoming information sessions about volunteering at Kettle’s Yard. This caught my attention immediately. I spent my junior year of university studying abroad at Cambridge, and, as someone very keen on art (although I specifically study historic textiles), I was heartbroken that Kettle’s Yard was closed for the entirety of my year. So when I returned to Cambridge two years later and learned of Kettle’s Yard’s impending reopening, I knew I had to get involved. I was especially eager to do volunteer work for Kettle’s Yard’s education department, as I had lots of experience with curating and wanted to broaden my horizons.
I signed up to volunteer for Studio Sundays because I gave myself time off from research and writing on the weekends. I started off by signing up for two sessions, but enjoyed myself so much I subsequently signed up for almost every remaining Sunday session. I didn’t know what to expect at Studio Sundays, but I found that I loved assisting both the professional artists and the children they taught. I was so intrigued by how the visiting artists translated works in Kettle’s Yard exhibitions and in the house itself into art projects appropriate for children of all ages. I loved seeing how visitors to Studio Sundays would take the project ideas and make them their own – for example, when given the task to make prints of repeating patterns based on Ben Nicholson’s 1933 ‘princess (kings and queens)’, many children created solar systems and collages of the ice cream flavours they liked the most. As we did every week, we pinned the completed artworks onto the wall and revelled in what a dynamic and fun mix of colour, shape, and pattern that day’s artists had created.
Volunteering at Studio Sundays gave me meaningful experience working in museum education, but I think the most important thing I realised is that children have such a pure sense of creativity. With no concerns about trying to make something ‘exactly right’, they put onto the page exactly the colours, shapes, and lines they want, and it is these compositions that are the most surprisingly brilliant. As someone who wants to work in museums for life, I will often come back to the idea that artistic genius, that thing that is often so valued and sought after in adulthood, is within all children. That can be seen whenever they pick up a pen or a paintbrush, just as I saw them do Sunday after Sunday at Kettle’s Yard.
– by Isabella Rosner
We are always delighted to welcome new Volunteers to the Kettle’s Yard team. To find out more and to express your interest, head to our Volunteering page.