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This week we are celebrating Voluntary Arts Week.  In today's blog we hear more from Volunteer Gallery Steward, Chris Thomas.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I retired from teaching art full time in 2013 and immediately missed the daily conversations about art with my students. Actually, it was always a fair exchange of knowledge and interest, so I learnt as well as taught.

Why did you choose to volunteer at the Jerwood Gallery?

The gallery is so beautiful and functional, a modest building designed to integrate with the surroundings and young staff who are as passionate as me about sharing insights and perspectives.

I asked the Visitor Services Manager about volunteering and she was so enthusiastic and charming that I signed up straight away.

How long have you been giving talks?

I have been giving talks and taking tours for a year now and have really enjoyed sharing perceptions with visitors who are often quite knowledgeable.

What do you enjoy most about it?

Those special moments when a visitor gains an insight or personal connection with a work are worth more than money. I am rewarded by helping to make a difference for the genuine seeker of meanings.

Can you tell us something new you have learnt since you began volunteering?

This is a hard question because I have learnt so much from the visitors, the community of volunteers, the staff and the organisation who provide formal and informal training around the collection and temporary shows.

If I was going to point to one thing, it would be that where I don't like an artist's work initially, I find that by learning I can begin to understand their intentions and that understanding can lead to liking; but not in every case!

Find out more about Voluntary Arts Week.


13 May, 2016
Written by Chris Thomas