I’m Sarah and I have been a learning intern at Ben Uri since May 2015. I joined Ben Uri after working in a number of museum based visitor experience roles with an ambition to work in a learning role. Already, my internship at Ben Uri has allowed me to gain practical experience of this field whilst developing a wider contextual awareness of arts education within galleries and museums.
Before coming to Ben Uri, my experience of gallery education extended to working with families and young people. Because of this, I started my internship with a narrowed perception of what arts education was and who it was for. I quickly came to understand that the Ben Uri Learning Team had a wider focus than solely families and schools by working with local communities and engaging with adult groups who had little previous involvement with the visual arts. In particular, supporting the delivery of creative workshops for those with dementia at a local residential home allowed me to understand how the visual arts can act as a stimulus for discussion and interaction between those with dementia. The work of Ben Uri has inspired my own career development as I have begun research into how museums and galleries can become more accessible to a wider audience, with a focus on those who currently feel underrepresented or excluded by arts organisations.
Although my internship has had a focus on working with the Learning Department, in the lead up to Out Of Chaos opening I worked across all departments in helping them get ready for the centenary exhibition. On a personal level, it has been incredibly exciting and rewarding to witness first hand how such a significant exhibition has been curated, organised and structured. To finally see Out of Chaos open its doors after months of discussion and preparation from everyone at Ben Uri was truly incredible. Already the exhibition has had over 4,000 visitors which is a testament to how important and relevant the Ben Uri collection is in society today.
To pick out a favourite of all the works and archive material currently on display at Out of Chaos was near impossible as every piece is saturated with historical, personal and anecdotal stories. However, as an admirer of the Pre-Raphaelites, I was immediately drawn to Night Looking Upon Sleep Her Beloved Child (II), 1895 by Simeon Solomon. Although a relatively small piece compared to others on display, for me it stands out due to the tender subject and emotive use of colour. The personal story of Solomon makes the piece even more poignant; from continually exhibiting at The Royal Academy, to his fall from grace and death due to alcoholism related problems in a workhouse, he was an artist whose legacy continues to inspire others.