In this blog post we hear from Tobey who has been on a student placement from Modern Contemporary Art: History, Curating and Criticism at University of Edinburgh. Tobey has been with us at GWL once a week since October 2018. In Tobey’s last week at the library she shares with us her experiences supporting the Hannah Leighton-Boyce and Ruth Barker exhibition.
Hi there. My name is 潘韵菁, also known as Tobey. I’ve been the project intern of Hannah Leighton-Boyce and Ruth Barker exhibition at Glasgow Women’s Library. So far, it’s been a fascinating journey and I’ve been enjoying it so much. As my internship is now coming to an end, I’d like to share here my experience and thoughts regarding both the exhibition and the Library.
The things I like the best about GWL is the warm, open and welcoming atmosphere it creates for every user and visitor. There are always volunteers and staff to welcome you with a cup of tea or coffee. There are always comfortable spaces where you can sit down, read a book, have lunch, chat with your friends, or do some work. There is no sign on the wall, whether in the library space or the gallery space, to tell you what to do and what not. It’s a place where you’d like to spend your whole day, a place that you don’t want to leave.
Perhaps it’s because of this homey atmosphere, that when the Library is used as a site for an art exhibition, it injects into the art world an energy that is unavailable anywhere else. Mirroring the round table in GWL, Hannah Leighton-Boyce’s More Energy than Object, More Force than Form celebrates the power of women’s gathering around. The 100 salt-water batteries, placed in concentric circles, are essential to the work—together they power up the light at the centre, just like the way people working in and supporting GWL. The idea of this work came to Hannah one day when she was moved to tears while listening to a woman’s story about her journey to education. The salty tears encouraged the artist to explore in her works the relations between salt and our body—their energy and fragility, forms and formlessness.
During my time here I organised group visits to the exhibition and delivered tours to people from around Scotland, including The Living Memory Association, Govan Women’s Group, Women Of Faith and Community, and Ricefield Arts. While Ricefield Arts were here we spent time making some postcards responding to the exhibition and our suffrage handling collections. You can find photographs of these postcards at the end of this blog post.
What has left in me the strongest impression or surprised me the most during my internship is that when encouraged, all visitors, were very happy to contribute their thoughts and opinions about the artworks. I still remember some women visitors told me how Ruth Barker’s Speech resonated with their experience of motherhood, and a visually impaired woman shared her feelings about Ruth’s sound piece What Sound Should We Make from a perspective that I have never thought of. These moments have refreshed my view on the function of museums and galleries. So, for me, IT IS the organizations’ responsibility to reach the wider audience, and this enriches all of our experiences of art.
So much as I would love to stay longer here at GWL, I’m finishing my internship by the end of March. I’m really grateful to the Library for giving me this amazing opportunity and finally I’d like to thank Katie, Emily, Gaby, Wendy, Rachel, Jenny, Nicola, Sue and so many amazing people at GWL for their kind help and support throughout my stay at GWL.