Meet our volunteers… Barbara, Diane and Michael

It’s Volunteers’ Week in the UK this week and we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate our fantastic Digitisation Volunteers. Every day this week we will be sharing their stories and thoughts in our Meet our volunteers series – we hope you enjoy meeting them!

Barbara, Diane and Michael

Why I volunteer…

Barbara: To get out, meet people and do something useful.

Diane: I became a volunteer in 2018 when I had already been a pensioner for quite a few years. I have always been very active since finishing work with lots of projects on the go. However, when it was suggested to me by a friend to join the Courtauld it sounded interesting and something different. I try to attend every Monday morning when possible. I have made a new group of friends through joining and coming on a regular day. It’s a great feeling to somehow feel part of the real world again after just being a pensioner for so many years.

Michael: The main reason is to use my time in retirement positively and with the purpose of contributing to something that is of great interest to me.

What I enjoy most about volunteering…

Barbara: I enjoy meeting the Monday morning group and discussing materials which vary week to week. Someone always has something interesting to organise or something witty to say. We are a noisy and fun bunch! Really missing the Monday morning bunch while we are on lockdown!

Diane: Technology is not my thing so I’m a bit limited in what I do but I really enjoy the sorting and labelling. I also enjoy working on the camera taking photos of the negatives. I really enjoyed the Italian section.
I feel it is a privilege to be a volunteer at the Courtauld and to be able to work on this wonderful project. I do miss coming in and look forward to returning after lockdown.

Michael: The community of volunteers on the project, particularly the diversity across age, gender and ethnicity. This is brought together by a committed, friendly and highly skilled staff team. The inclusiveness of their approach is exemplary.

A favourite photo or moment?

Barbara: I helped to organise a box of Epstein sculptures at what was the BMA and now Zimbabwe House on the Strand and also Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Paris. A lot of the Strand sculptures haven’t survived in their original condition so it was special to see them intact in a building near Somerset House.

Two images of the strand building of the british medical association featuring statues.

429 Strand. The Conway Library. CON_B07186_F003_009 and CON_B07186_F003_020.

Michael: It’s a Kersting photograph, a cathedral in France maybe. An interior shot – a woman kneels, as if in prayer, light rakes from a high window into the nave enhancing the spiritual significance of the building.

Kneeling in prayer, the Conway Library.

What do you do when not volunteering?

Barbara: I retired last year as an information literacy librarian at UCL, and previously I was a teacher. In both roles, I spent a lot of time learning and organising learning and information. At home, I care for my husband who has Alzheimer’s, yet I still enjoy travelling, gardening, attending plays and galleries, reading and meeting friends.

Diane: I was an Illustrator and lecturer in Art and Design when I was working. I still draw and paint and am always working on a project of some kind. I’m also a keen gardener. I go regularly to the gym. I’m a grandmother so I am very involved in childcare.

Michael: My interest in art generally and my affiliation to the Courtauld through its Public Programmes is encouraged further by my involvement in the project and the contact this affords with other volunteers.

What would you say to someone who wasn’t sure whether volunteering is for them?

Barbara: There are so many different jobs to do on the project, that if one job doesn’t suit, you can switch to another. It’s a real privilege to see historical photographs of bygone life and to work with friendly and interesting people.

Diane: Give it a go you may enjoy it!

Michael: I think I might say “give it a try, come and meet the team and see what’s on offer”.

Image showing a group of volunteers in the library.

Monday morning crew in the Conway Library.