As part of my MA in Museum and Art Gallery Studies I undertook a 20 day work placement with an organisation in the cultural sector. The host organisation I chose was Birth Rites, with my primary role being a Marketing Assistant, with some curatorial duties, and I was working alongside the curator Helen Knowles and assistant Danielle Quinn.
The Birth Rites Collection is the first and only collection of contemporary artwork dedicated to the subject of childbirth. The collection was founded in 2008 by the artist and curator, Helen Knowles and is currently housed in the school of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care at Salford University.
The collection comprises of sculpture, photography, documentary film, painting, wallpapers, drawing and new media and aims to facilitate in the production of new cutting-edge artworks by artists who might not normally address the subject of childbirth.
The project as a whole aims to encourage debate and increase awareness around the practice of childbirth and highlight topics which include the shift towards medical intervention in birth and the impact of biomedical advances in technology on reproduction.
Birth Rites was to hold a relaunch event on the 3rd March, which saw a selection of new pieces enter the collection, the central acquisition being Kinderwunsch by Ana Casas Broda. Kinderwunsch is a book and photographic exhibition which explores the relationship between the artist and her two sons and was developed over 7 years.
The relaunch event featured talks and debates with Susan Bright, (curator of Home Truths: Photography and Motherhood exhibition) Hermione Wiltshire presented her new project The Birth of the Image, A new performance was held by Himali Singh Soin called Giving Birth to Beauty, as well as a Twerkshop with Fannie Sosa. Fannie Sosa is a nomadic activist, and ‘high priestess’ of twerk. She creates round spaces to exchange knowledge, gather strength and nurture people – especially women and genderfluid identified bodies of colour.
Ahead of this relaunch my main placement task was to promote the event to Arts, midwifery, mother and baby magazines and local radio stations and newspapers.
After contacting Wonder Women, a feminist arts festival in Manchester, I was pleased to see they responded positively and wanted to include our Twerkshop in their line-up of events.
A selection of articles containing information about the relaunch event are also listed below:
What I found most beneficial from the placement was that working with such a small organisation I was lucky enough to be involved with every aspect, and get to experience the curatorial journey first hand. Although my role was named as Marketing Assistant, I was given many other tasks including uninstalling /re-installing the works, assisting with condition reports for new pieces that came into the collection, ordering the wall vinyl text and sending out newsletters. I am grateful to Helen for trusting me with these important tasks considering my lack of experience in this area and for giving me the opportunity to get the most out of my placement and gain many skills that can be taken forward into my future career development.