I have been doing conservation work for 25 years. As a child, I loved museums and spent my pocket money collecting their postcards of portraits, costumes and four-poster beds. When I graduated in English Literature from Royal Holloway University in London, I decided to try to find a job in museums.
While on part-time acting, I volunteered at museums in Bristol, where I’m from, and Bath, where I learned how to handle, package and catalog objects before getting a place to study museum studies at the University of Leicester.
At this point, while the history of clothing and textiles is my passion, I didn’t think I could get curatorial work related to them as they are rare, so I focused on developing skills and knowledge of collections. management and digitization.
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The two strands came together in my second job interview for a temporary position as Project Assistant at Brighton & Hove Museums. After a patchwork of temporary and permanent part-time contracts there, including one helping to manage weddings held at the Royal Pavilion, I moved to Glasgow almost 20 years ago, to take up the permanent post of Curator of the European clothing and textiles.
I was interested in the history of clothing and textiles from an early age. Originally it was because of the look and style of historical clothing, but as I got older I also became fascinated with how they often reflect wealth (or lack thereof), social status and the beliefs of the wearer or user, as well as the broader political, economic and technological climate of the time.
Today, I enjoy discovering the creators and carriers of the past, then sharing and making those stories relevant to our visitors.
I am very excited to work at The Burrell Collection. As curator, I will assist with the development and occasionally participate in the public program of lectures, tours and events when the building reopens in March following its upgrade and redisplay.
I will help to help visitors discover and learn more about not only the objects in the new displays, but also the wider collection through our online collections browser, digital program and accessible stores. In due course, I will also work with colleagues and communities on future posting rotations.
As clothing and textiles are sensitive to light, we try to display items for a limited time to protect them from fading. This means that some of our visitors may find that their favorite tapestries and embroideries are not always out, but it also means that we can bring out textiles that have never been on display in Glasgow before, many of which I hope , will become a new family. favourites.
I’m one of those boring people who look forward to Monday mornings because I really love my job.
The best thing for me is making connections between objects, places and people, whether it’s finding objects in the collection that relate to historical figures, discovering a maker or wearer so far unknown, or seeing our visitors connect with something they have seen, read or heard about an object – maybe it was just a happy anecdote that made them smile, but other times it can be something that resonates with their lived experience or sparks a new interest or skill.
The Burrell Collection, run by charity Glasgow Life, will reopen on March 29, 2022 following an ambitious upgrade and re-display of the building. For more information visit: http://www.burrellcollection.com