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Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Behind the Scenes at the Glass Tank Gallery


Last semester, I had the fantastic opportunity of working as an intern alongside the brilliant team at The Glass Tank, Oxford Brookes University’s very own public art gallery. The work I did throughout my time there counted as one of the modules for my History of Art degree, so not only did I have an amazing time learning about the industry and the roles involved, I gained work experience without taking time out of my studies.


My role could be characterised as an extra pair of hands for the team. From the many, many responsibilities that the gallery manager, Dr Joanna Walker, and the year-long gallery intern, Eve Gould, have to take on, I was there to assist and learn about these duties by getting stuck in. Each week was so different as the schedule was varied and fast-paced; when it came to writing a weekly blog as part of my formal assessment, I had an absolute blast coming up with new and interesting ways to talk about everything.


One of the really exciting parts of my time there was meeting people and pushing myself to be a confident, professional representative of The Glass Tank. For example, early on in the semester, we took new pieces from the Student Art Collection to a local framers and collaborated with them to choose the perfect mounts and frames for each work. The experience was fascinating. I for one had never considered how many factors go into this process. On another occasion, I had the chance to sit in on a meeting with an artist. It was eye opening to watch how the paper plans of an artist could be brought to life in the gallery. I also had the opportunity to assist in the set up and running of a private view and a live panel event; both of these were highly rewarding as everyone involved put so much work into making the events run as smoothly as possible. It was lovely seeing how proud the curators and artists were as it all came together.

Opening night of Rycotewood’s furniture design Thinking Through Making exhibition
My internship was carried out under the umbrella of Brookes’s Independent Study Module option. This allows students to develop an independent project with supervision from academic staff as part of their programme of study. The ‘Glass Tank ISM’ is usually offered annually and I applied for its 2017-18 one-semester run. In my eyes, the module is a huge asset to what a degree can offer a student. Through hands on experience, I was able to build on my studies to date, and gain practical skills (e.g. building a gallery wall) as well as test my confidence, initiative and creativity in a work place environment. It made me think about my future and what career path I may want to consider after finding out my own strengths and weaknesses. It also made me think about the arts in a very different light, because all the behind-the-scenes decisions and small detail work of the gallery and curatorial staff have an enormous impact on making great pieces of art look and feel phenomenal.

Layla Adams (second -year undergraduate studying for BA (Hons) Art History & Sociology)


(all photography by Layla Adams)

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