Meet our volunteers… Dora and Ellie

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! 

Dora and Ellie

Why I volunteer…

Dora: Because I want to learn new skills – or use my own skills – related to the conservation of artefacts, to contribute to the project!

Ellie: Having graduated last July, I started volunteering at The Courtauld in order to gain experience working in archiving. I am also very passionate about photography and the Digitisation Project provides me with a perfect opportunity to enhance my photography knowledge.

What I enjoy most about volunteering…

Dora: I enjoy being part of a team and being appreciated for my contribution. I like discovering interesting photographs especially in remote parts of the world where also the inhabitants have been captured. The Conway files sometimes are like opening a time capsule.

Ellie: I love speaking with the other volunteers and often meet new people every week!

A favourite photo or moment?

Dora: These two are my favourite images so far.

The Conway Library. CON_B02929_F003_009.

The Conway Library. CON_B03845_F001_063.

Ellie: I spent a number of weeks working on images of churches across Italy, and would have to say that this has been my favourite part of the collection thus far. The detail on the religious engravings is unbelievable! I also found it particularly interesting when we would come across images of completely different churches that would have almost identical engravings and sculptures. 

What do you do when not volunteering?

Dora: I am a fine art artist, a painter, I love art, art history and especially contemporary art, so working for the Courtauld Connects digitisation project is great. When I do not paint I love cooking, reading books, visiting the latest art exhibitions, theatre, cinema.

Dora painting

Ellie: I love photography, particularly film photography, and am often photographing my friends in my spare time. I love to use a Canon T50 and just recently brought a flash which is proving to be so much fun to play around with!

Ellie Coombes, self-portrait

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

Dora: There is a lot of categorising and processing photographs digitally. It is also a treasure trove for photographers and historians. I like the environment that the staff has created for the volunteers – it is great to work with them, they are supportive and encouraging.

Ellie: I would definitely recommend volunteering. There are various different aspects of the project that you can participate in and I am certain you would find something you enjoy. It is also a great opportunity to meet new people. 

Volunteering during lockdown

Dora: I am very grateful to be part of the team as I was given the opportunity to volunteer some work during COVID19. I personally liked researching buildings for the Layers of London and it fitted perfectly with my life at home. As a volunteer, it is important to keep the connection open and alive during this time. I enjoy the support of the staff and the creativity that drives this project in an unusual way at a distance.

Ellie: I have really enjoyed being able to volunteer whilst self-isolating because it has helped to keep me busy and has been a great distraction tool. 

A painting by Dora Williams