Meet our volunteers… Celia and Erva

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!

Celia and Erva

Why I volunteer…

Celia: I enjoy keeping busy and helping out. This was a project I thought worth supporting. 

Erva: By volunteering, I contribute to both myself and other people around me. I focus on what brings me joy and what I can do to make a difference in other people’s lives, and as a result of that, I feel happiness in my own life. Also, different projects enable me to gain a new perspective and take stock of what I like, what I don’t.

I love to create. I’m passionate about editing and making it fun. My dream is to inspire others through my art (esp. photographs and films!). Time goes by in the blink of an eye, and I want to capture every moment. When it comes to the digitisation project, it allows me to deal with photographs and a variety of collections. That’s why I know what works for me. I become happier when I come across street and portrait photos.

What I enjoy most about volunteering…

Celia: I feel privileged to be a part of this project and to work with the amazing works in the library. The very positive and welcoming behaviour that volunteers get from all members of the Courtauld staff has been the unexpected bonus.

Celia is always in the camera vaults. Photo by Erva Akin.

Erva: The building and the environment of the Courtauld itself are very quiet and silent. I like the way we focus and dedicate time to our tasks with such commitment. I like the volunteer managers’ efforts to make us comfortable (biscuits and tea are great!). I remember many times staff encouraging us volunteers to take a break, I really appreciate that.

Erva opeerating Capture One in the Digitisation Studio at the Courtauld.

A favourite photo or moment?

Celia: Among many others, I really enjoyed the photos of church ruins in Turkey and early 20th German folders: @CON_B04367 etc

CON_B03844_F004_011. The Conway Library.

Erva: I don’t remember the box number, however, I really liked the Syrian woman portrait displaying in Hermitage Museum, Russia.

What do you do when not volunteering?

Celia: I am a Team London Ambassador, one of thousands of volunteers linked to the Office of the Mayor of London. I am a member of the Older People’s Advisory Group (OPAG) of Age UK Camden and participate in many of the age and or disability-related meetings and conferences in London. I love to walk and take photographs wherever possible.

Erva: I moved to the UK and I have been living in London for 8 months since September to study abroad. I am a law master student at Istanbul University, however, I hope to study filmmaking in the upcoming years in London. Since moving to London, I have participated in many volunteer activities such as London Short Film Festival (volunteer photographer) and Charing Cross Library (leading the English speaking club) while I am working on my LLM thesis. I like photographing and filming. I took an introductory documentary filmmaking course at UCL.

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

Celia: As I seem to espouse to everyone, even people I meet in the cinema, this project is a lovely mixture of art and technology. Anyone who wants to look at amazing photographs, or learn more about cataloguing, processing, or digitisation will find something to interest them. 

Erva: Volunteering at the Courtauld involves learning the technical and theoretical details of digital visual products which I focus on the intellectual property law side during my LLM at the university. Through these activities at the Courtauld, I am trying to build an interdisciplinary approach to the field. I would say “if you value art and photography and you want to feed your sense of beauty with aesthetically beautiful pieces of art, that’s the perfect place for you!”.

Volunteering during lockdown

Erva: I lose track of time in the time of coronavirus, so working on lots of different things at the same time is really difficult. Still, I find doing a little volunteering helps my mental wellbeing.

Celia during the lockdown.