My time as The Bowes Centre Intern #BowesStaff

Hello! My name is Faryal Arif and I interned at The Bowes Center in the summer of 2018. I am an International student from Pakistan, studying an MA in Visual Cultures at Durham University.

I visited The Bowes Museum at the beginning of my course and fell in love with its architecture, collection and the well-kept gardens. It was back then I decided The Bowes Museum will be my pick for the placement module. During my visit I met Matthew Read, who then was the newly appointed director at The Bowes Center.

The concept of the Center is to develop digital, craft and design-based projects; an area of interest to me. The Bowes Center is a relatively new department of the museum. It focuses outwardly on building relations with the local community and increase museum’s digital audience. It consciously seeks means and methods of engagement to attract diverse public and aims at working as a catalyst to keep the museum activities thriving. Currently, The Bowes Centre operates from one of the vaults in the museum but envisions to move into the lodges near the entrance.

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Assisting The Bowes Centre with crafts at The Bowes Museum’s 125 Years Summer Fete

I particularly enjoyed my placement with The Center because of my interest in community projects based on public engagement to help build dialogue between institutional bodies and the community. As a young department, the Center is run by Matthew Read. While, Paula Moore handles the social media platforms, Simone Wain attempts to strike some harmony in this passion driven department as the Executive Assistant. Whilst working with Matthew, Simone and Paula I have always been there for guidance and support.

I was involved in a couple of diverse projects, the foremost being ‘An Exhibition of Ideas’, which is an artist residency of ten creative individuals from the North East. The actual exhibition opens in October but needed planning and development of workshops and social media campaigns which I had the pleasure of contributing to.

The most exciting project I worked on is the ‘Still Life is Real Life’ exhibition (trailer) launch. The idea of the exhibition is to link the elements of the still life paintings found in the collection of The Bowes Museum, to the everyday products sold in the local Barnard Castle market to explore their relation. To develop the research for our context, Paula and I photographed and interviewed the traders of Barnard Castle’s Wednesday market which gave us an insight about the people, the town, their everyday interactions and how they associate themselves with the museum. It was a great learning experience to be involved at every step of the project, from pitching the project to selecting the art works, designing the promotional material, developing feedback forms, writing content and brain storming the display with the exhibition team. It was a well-rounded experience that concluded the placement for me and offered learning at each step. Some other exciting projects held by the center were: Fish Dance a project inviting and involving the local community, visiting York Castle Museum with Matthew, documenting an automation clock and the Monkey Puzzle Tree Kickstarter campaign, which had my partial involvement.

A very exciting moment whilst being an intern at The Bowes Centre, was to see the unpacking of the designer dresses from Valentino and Comme des Garҫons for the ‘Catwalking’ exhibition (opened July 2018).

A month-long internship at The Bowes Museum is one of the highlights of my degree. It has been a great joy to work with passion driven and hardworking team of the Museum amidst some of the best fine art collections and ongoing exhibitions.

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