Art, Art Gallery, artist, new job, photo gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield, visitor experience, Viviane Sassen

Visitor Experience Assistant at The Hepworth Wakefield

For the past two months, I worked as a Gallery Host Volunteer at The Hepworth Wakefield.

At the end of March, I received an email with upcoming job opportunities at THW. I decided to apply for the visitor experience assistant role. As a result of my application, I received an invitation for an interview, which took place the following week and went very well, even though I woke up in the morning full of cold, with muscle ache, cough, blocked nose and couldn’t speak or breathe. The worst possible case when going for the interview.

To my excitement, the day after the interview, I received a phone call from one of my duty managers saying that they were impressed with the interview and offered me a part time contract as a Visitor Experience Assistant. What a fantastic news, I was very happy to accept it!

As an employee, I will have a lot more responsibilities than when I use to volunteer. Before, my job was to help the visitor experience team, to engage with the visitors and make them feel welcome, to answer their queries and most importantly to ensure the safety of the visitors and the art work. Now, as well as all the above, my duties will be to have up to date knowledge about the gallery, exhibitions, displayed collections and public programs; to respond to phone calls and email enquiries; to deliver informative and engage guide tours and much more. Guide tours will be challenging and means a lot of research. I became familiar with the exhibited art at The Hepworth Wakefield however, I am not ready for it yet. Thankfully, I will be given the training.

I am looking forward to becoming part of visitor experience team and also to my first shift on Thursday. As I stated in a blog about my volunteer job, I adore this place and the friendly people who work there. As a photographer it’s also a great opportunity to be part of the creative community, to build connections with other artists and people who have similar interest to mine.

I was planning to look for a job after the graduation however, as the opportunity arises, I’ve done my best and already have it! I am very proud of myself and as I am only going to work part time, I will have a lot of time to be freelance photographer.

If you haven’t been to The Hepworth Wakefield, you should pay a visit. It’s an amazing place, with a variety of incredible art. From Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore’s famous sculptures to contemporary photographs and Magdalene Odundo’s The Journey of Things exhibition which contains modern, contemporary and ancient pieces that influenced her work and many, many more. I can assure you that there is something for every art lover.

Additionally, if you want to change your career or know the company you want to work for, I advise you to apply for a volunteer role. You will find out if it’s the right job for you, as well as the possibility of leading to permanent position.

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Visiting Art Galleries

On the typical weekend apart from shooting for my major project, my family and I would backpack, wear hiking boots and go exploring UKs landscapes however, this weekend was different. As the weather wasn’t good, we decided to visit art galleries instead.

In the morning, I’ve had my first weekend shift volunteering for Hepworth Wakefield. Due to prints fair, it was very busy, I don’t think I have ever seen Hepworth as full before. In the first hour, I was meeting and greeting visitors near welcome desk. As I am still learning and I only spent an hour there before, seeing all these visitors coming from every direction I was a bit stressed however, working with all this nice and helpful people absolutely helps a lot. After busy hour it was time to go upstairs and looking after the galleries. The rest of my shift went very nice and quick, talking to visitors and other gallery hosts. When I finished, my boyfriend picked me up and we went to Leeds where we spent a nice afternoon visiting art galleries.

Firstly, we went to Leeds Art Gallery. To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci, Leeds Art Gallery display a range of da Vinci’s greatest drawings. The exhibition is free to visit and will be open to public until 6 of May. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would recommend it as it’s totally worth it. Seeing da Vinci’s art always feels as a pleasure and seeing these exact drawings could be one of a life time experience. Most of the drawings are small, framed in A4 or A3 sizes however, there is one enormous depicted horse. There is a variation of different forms from mechanical engineering and sculpture to architectures and human’s anatomy. What’s mostly visible in da Vinci’s drawings are the huge amount of details, his skulls, so as body parts appear as real body x-rays or scans.

After da Vinci exhibition, we went to explore the rest of gallery. There are many impressive and Huge paintings, so as sculpture and photographs. I liked the frame of John Hilliard’s photographs. I need to think about my final year exhibition, and this is a very good example to consider it for my photographs.

After Leeds Art Gallery, we went to visit The Tetley, to see the 22nd International Contemporary Artist Book Fair. There were many interesting artists selling their art. I got myself an interesting book and collected a few business cards from publishers and printing companies.

On Sunday morning, I’ve had a photoshoot. The day was dark and dull, but thankfully I manage to make some new photographs for my project. When I came back, my boyfriend, our daughter and I went to visit Hepworth Wakefield. Firstly, we went to Calder building for a Print Fair.The building is both huge and bright, great place for this kind of events. It was a very busy place, but great to see so many interesting artist’s stalls, so as galleries and print makers. Again, I looked at frames, to get the idea for my exhibition. There were a few good ones, but so expensive, I decided to make my mind up about the size and the colours first.

From Print fair we went to The Hepworth Wakefield. It felt good being a visitor this time, especially that yesterday was super busy. I showed my little family around Hepworth’s new amazing exhibition. Magdalene Odundo’s The Journey of Things, and other wonderful art from all over the world, both ancient and contemporary who inspired Odundo’s work. Both my child and my boyfriend were overwhelmed by Egyptian Canopic Jars; however, apart from this my daughter wasn’t too impressed, she’s only 9 years old and unfortunately she gets bored in the art galleries. Never mind, I am sure that one day she will appreciate the art.

If you haven’t seen Magdalene Odundo’s exhibition and/or haven’t visited The Hepworth Wakefield, you should definitely do it. It’s an amazing place full of wonderful art.

I’ve had a lovely weekend, filled with amazing art.

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Volunteers program

Last Thursday we’ve had a visit form one of University volunteer, who talked about the opportunities available for students around the campus as part of SU volunteers program . She explained how to register, how to apply for each role and how important is to give our spare time. As well as helping others, volunteers job has a lot of benefits too. For example to gain experience, to learn new skills, to develop contacts and network within creative community, to build our confidence, as well as improve our listening skills, problem solving, developing social skills, working as part of the team or as leadership of the organisation…all to build our CVs, which will be very useful when we graduate and start to look for a job.

Fortunately, I am aware of volunteers opportunities as I am already volunteered for The Hepworth Wakefield. I’ve had an induction day last Wednesday and yesterday, I’ve had my first shift as the gallery host. I must say I enjoyed it. I love The Hepworth for its kind and helpful people, for the beautiful view surrounding the gallery and of course the variety of amazing art. I meet some interesting people, everyone made me feel welcome and was happy to help if I had any question. I am very grateful for the opportunity to became part of this amazing place and I am definitely looking forward to my next shift, but firstly I will have a training about the new exhibition – Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things. I am looking forward to the training, as being part of the visitors experience team, I need to be prepared for the questions asked by gallery visitors. As stated everyone made me feel welcome and my job is to be helpful and to make visitors feel welcome. I am very thankful to be part of this amazing place. It feels as a dream job for me, as I love talking to people especially about the art. If you ask my boyfriend, he would perhaps say that I talked too much, but luckily this job allows me to be chatty.

On Friday the 15th of February, 7-10 pm is the opening party of Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things.

Free entry, pop-up bars, Resident DJ Andy Hickford… Its going to be amazing evening, so make sure you join us!

Find out more at:

hepworthwakefield.org/opening-party