Volunteers’ Week 2016 at the RWA

Volunteers’ Week 2016 at the RWA

To celebrate the end of Volunteers’ Week 2016, Front of House Manager Kristen Pye invited a handful of our 100+ volunteers speak for themselves, and explain why they volunteer with the RWA.

Whether invigilating our galleries, reporting on the condition of a Turner masterpiece, working with families in our monthly Scribble & Sketch art-making sessions, or taking bids from eager art buyers at our annual Secret Postcard Auction, our volunteers really do it all.

If you are interested in getting involved with our friendly and flexible volunteer programme, check out our Volunteers webpage to learn more.

T.B. – Invigilator Extraordinaire

A communicator and writer, I find I am taking a new path in life after an already diverse and full professional history. My creativity was calling to be fulfilled, and so a new chapter is unfolding and the RWA sets the scene for it!

For me, volunteering means I can soak up an ever-changing diversity of arts and can learn from all I see; be inspired and nourished; and meet so many fascinating people, who also care about art and colour, shape and form. And in the spaces between, when the gallery is quiet, I can read and enjoy books on art, and thus add to my history of art knowledge. Added to all this, we have fun when private views are on, and recently our Secret Postcard Auction event filled the building and galleries with a delightful buzz of energy.

Hele – Student of French and History of Art

My name is Hele and I am a volunteer at the RWA. I am a student of Art History and French at Bristol University, just finishing my second year. I chose Bristol for the music scene and the lovely atmosphere across the city. Having grown up in the countryside, Bristol’s close proximity to both Wells and Somerset was attractive to me.

I volunteer because, being a student, it is easy to get caught up in university life and I like to have the opportunity to engage with people outside of the uni bubble. I enjoy volunteering at the RWA because all who are involved make it a pleasant experience. For me, it is interesting to spend time in a gallery space, watching visitors respond in different ways to the works on display as well as chatting to them to discover in what ways they are moved (or not!) by certain pieces. It feels good to participate in something that is so important to me.

Pete – Official Bristol Rovers Supporter (0therwise retired)

I’m Pete, recently reached 70 years, and retired for five. I’m a new ‘boy’ on the block, as far as volunteering is concerned.

I have drawn and painted (including garden sheds!) since school days, so the interest in art has always been there I guess. I did an art course at the RWA Drawing School some years ago – nothing leading to any degree or similar – just for fun. Have always visited to see various exhibitions over the years – so have a feeling for the place, so to speak. Also seeing and being with original paintings is a pleasure. Passing one day on the bus, I thought volunteering would be good for me as well as the RWA. So far so good. They say “never volunteer” but I disagree.

Karine – translator, long-time Iggy Pop fan and Saturday volunteer

My name is Karine. I’ve volunteered at the RWA since July 2013. I am self-employed, working from home as a translator, specialising in art. Volunteering gets me out of the house and is a way of meeting people working in the arts, or simply like-minded people. The RWA is a lovely place and environment, with a really friendly team of people. It’s great to be part of it.

Ann – originally from Wales, dedicated chorus girl and Saturday volunteer

Hello – I am Ann. Born in Wales, I moved to Bristol 52 years ago, and have been a volunteer for almost 4 years. I love volunteering at the RWA as, since retiring, it has once more given me a sense of ‘purpose’, plus the opportunity to learn a lot more about art, which has always interested me. Perhaps above all has been the opportunity to meet lots of lovely people. I would thoroughly recommend it!

Angela – Art and Design Educator and Friday volunteer

My name is Angela and I have been volunteering at the RWA for about five years. I previously worked as a lecturer in the art and design department of a local college. I enjoy being part of the creative atmosphere here and participating in the changing exhibitions. It’s also interesting to talk to visitors and discuss works of art with them. In addition, the building is beautiful and the staff here are delightful to work with!

Helen – Culture vulture and all-round star lady

I’ve lived in Bristol almost 20 years. I volunteer for a variety of tasks – stewarding shows, meeting and greeting at special events and even pouring wine and water at private views.

I love a wide variety of art and enjoy learning about it – both from the curators and staff at the RWA and from the public who come to visit the gallery. I like being part of an organisation that is friendly and where I feel part of a team alongside professional staff, doing our best to help people learn and enjoy. What makes it worth it? I learn, enjoy and meet lots of people of all ages. It’s fun to be behind the scenes at the gallery and find what makes it tick!

Peter – Arts graduate and stylish fellow

My name is Peter. I’m a recent addition to the volunteering team. With a background in fine art and textiles design, I worked in various artists collectives and design my own pocket squares and ties.

The atmosphere at the RWA is welcoming and friendly. Having volunteered in a plethora of different institutions, I must say I like it here the most!

Martin – avid cyclist and general joie de vivre – spreader

Hello! I’m Martin, a semi-retired salesman (a.k.a. go-getting international, jet-setting businessman). I’ve been a regular visitor to the RWA for years, so volunteering seemed a good way of learning more about the institution and giving something back.

What make’s it worth it? It’s the unbridled hedonism of being a gallery steward, the late-night drinking, the drug-fuelled parties, etc. Or perhaps the relaxing peace and quiet, with the chance to sit in lovely surrounding with the opportunity to socialise (or not, as the fancy takes me).


Photo of volunteer helping during an event
Photo of lady rifling through artwork
photo of lady holding up postcard during auction