Sunday 1 January 2017

Volunteering At Spike Island

This year I met my girlfriend AJ who lives in Bristol and it has been a wonderful year of adventures exploring the city. Visiting the city every week, I looked into volunteering at Spike Island, a gallery I visited a long time ago and really liked.

Since volunteering at Spike Island I have met lots of friends, and after relocating to Bristol full-time, I have been able to become more involved with the gallery and volunteer at more events which has been fantastically fulfilling.

The volunteers and staff at Spike Island are an awesome team, and Jules; the volunteer co-ordinator is one of the best people I have ever met. Spike Island volunteers started a zine, and I wrote about my volunteer experience so far, for the second issue. I wanted to share this on my blog because it was my first ever piece of published writing. It has been amazing to meet such encouraging, creative, kind people in Bristol and I look forward to what 2017 has in store.

Spike Zine [Volunteer Experience - Cheri Donohue]

I first visited Spike Island 2 years ago on an open day, it was cool to see all of the creative work spaces at Spike. Everyone was happy to talk about their art, it was my first insight into the lovely, open, friendly, creative community at Spike Island.

After recently moving to Bristol, I wondered how to be involved with Spike Island and became a volunteer. Since volunteering I have invigilated in the gallery for 2 exhibitions, some events, and for the preview evening of the Hedwig Houben, and Roman Stetina & Mirosla Burianek exhibitions.

It was great to meet other volunteers at the briefing for Autumn exhibitions, everyone I have met at Spike has been so welcoming and I think that’s very representative of the community here. As we were guided around the gallery, Hedwig described to us our role as volunteers for the exhibition. We are encouraged to reconstruct shelves, and reposition pieces from the exhibition in different layouts to our desire, each day. It’s a very exciting role to be curating the gallery space while visitors come into the gallery, the unusual moving around of equipment or repairing any damage to the plastesine car, encourages them to ask us questions, and immediately opens up a conversation about the art.

It was insightful to see Hedwigs performance at the preview evening, seeing her interacting with her art while she read a script associated with the plastesine car was very humanising. Speaking with Hedwig afterwards, it was interesting to hear how she lost herself in her performance and finds it really amazing to see the different emotions people have towards her work. As volunteers, we were shown how to repair the plastesine surface after the performance, and to continue making repairs if needed throughout the duration of the exhibition. It’s cool to be looking after the exhibition in this way, and feels strange to be allowed to touch art.

Volunteering at Spike Island events such as Night of the Fellows, is fun and always surprising. I love hearing artists talk about the ideas behind their work, and at Night of the Fellows it’s especially inspiring to hear graduates introduce themselves, their art and discuss their plans for the future. Amy Gough, one of this years’ Graduate Fellows, showed us her short film and it was particularly amazing to hear about her process and how she got obsessed with the elements she was researching.

Volunteering at Spike, already I have had the wonderful opportunity of meeting artists and creative folk from all around the world. I always feel inspired after being at Spike for the day, I feel very lucky and I can’t believe I was originally nervous to get in touch about volunteering.