A white leather laced shoe designed for a bird's foot.

Han Feng, Shoe for Bird, 2012. Mixed media. © Han Feng. Installation photograph by Museum Photography North West.

Work Experience at University of Salford Art Collection

By Amy Greener

Throughout my few days working with Stephanie Fletcher, Jennifer Iddon and Lindsay Taylor in the University of Salford Art Collection office, I have learned and experienced several new and interesting things. As an A-Level History student I was keen to learn more about the curation-side of the job that I have had a taste of, and considering what a great opportunity this work experience placement was for me, I enjoyed the insight I gained from my experience thoroughly.

Not only were the people I was working alongside very friendly and welcoming, their passion and motivation they hold for their work was, and is, very inspiring to me. As a 17 year old student currently thinking about and starting my journey in the working world, my time here has been very useful and interesting. My first day of my work experience was my favourite day. Steph introduced me to the curation-side of the job whereby I learnt how to clean and store artwork and my interest in art expanded due to the range of works within the Collection. During this day I was helping with the photoshoot of various sculptures for Art UK by dusting the sculptures, arranging them for the photos and recording condition checks.

Glenys Barton Pierrot I, 1981. Crafts Council Collection: P289.1. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.
Pierrot Lunaire (Tetley, 1962/1967.) Photo © Merlin Hendy. RDC/PD/01/194/3/001

We photographed several sculptures but a few stood out to me such as Pierrots by Glenys Barton. This particular piece is a wall hanging with a ceramic figure on a ceramic tile and I decided to do some research on this piece. I discovered that it was inspired by a dance piece called Pierrot Lunaire choreographed by Glen Tetley which has been described by the Rambert company as “the ballet of the white clown of innocence with the dark clown of experience”.

Other activities I was able to get involved in during my work experience was listening and taking part in a short-listing meeting for the Northern Artist Film Commission for the Lightwaves festival. Not only was this a fun task due to watching and learning more about upcoming art film-makers from the North, but it was interesting to hear critical responses and views to the pieces. Additionally, it was encouraging to hear about how the University of Salford and Quays Culture collaborate to introduce more art to the public, not just from an economic point of view but as people who love art and want more people to be able to access it.

The various perceptions of artwork has always been a huge factor into my love of art and so researching the inspiration behind various pieces was fascinating. I also researched the Mende masks that had belonged to Albert Adams. This artist was new to me and looking at his paintings after seeing sculptures that had inspired his work was incredibly interesting. The database for the artwork in the Collection is ever-growing, and Steph had told me that they had little contextual knowledge on the Mende masks, and so this was the focus for my research. I read that the masks’ glossy, black appearance represents the beauty of healthy skin, and may also reflect “the blackness of the river bottom; where the Sande spirit is believed to reside. The ringed neck may also refer to the circular ripples of water that are formed as the Sande spirit emerges” ( By Dr. Christa Clarke, cited from Khan Academy website).

Similarly, I was given a quick tour of Salford Museum and Art Gallery on my last day and this also broadened my perception of art. The exhibitions have all been carefully constructed to follow themes and different styles etc, but it was also clear to see how they were run specifically with the public in mind. There was a fascinating exhibition of artefacts from A-Z which tugs at feelings of curiosity, but also connects with the wonder of history and art. Children could happily explore the exhibition with craft-stations alongside the interactive trail of following the pieces down the alphabet. I was also able to see how busy the Art Collection of the University is from their exhibition ‘Everything I Have Is Yours’, which is currently at the museum.

Overall, I learnt many new things specifically to do with the world of work, such as marketing, proof-reading and filing, but I was also able to learn more about the world of art. This was done particularly through hearing and reading about how the University of Salford’s Art Collection grows. There are three main stands from which pieces are collected: Chinese Contemporary Art; From the North; and About the Digital. It was clear from the collection that the University recognises the importance and value of the artwork with interest to them, ranging from artists such as Rachel Maclean and Han Feng. I am very grateful to the staff that organised and helped me with my work experience at the Art Collection of the University of Salford, and I am excited to see and hear about how their programme and collection will develop in the future.

Rachel Maclean, Again and Again and Again, from It’s What’s Inside That Counts, 2016. Still from digital video. Courtesy the artist. Co-commissioned by HOME, University of Salford Art Collection and Channel 4 Random Acts.

Amy Greener
Year 12 Student at Poynton Sixth Form.