Eleanor Hutchison is currently undertaking the National Gallery's Curatorial Traineeship Programme with Art Fund support and the assistance of the Vivmar Foundation. In her second blog post she describes the transition from her initial training at the National Gallery to her new base at Compton Verney.
After six months at the National Gallery in London, I have now moved to the Midlands and started working at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park. I’m really enjoying getting to know the team here as well as exploring the towns and cities nearby, including Leamington Spa, Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Birmingham, just to mention a few!
One of the main projects I am now working on at Compton Verney is the redisplay of the Northern European collection. I am thinking about how to display the artworks thematically and place them in the context in which they were made during the dramatic period of the German Reformation. I want to present this information in a way that is accessible to all; I have been working with Compton Verney’s Learning team to get their insights into how different age groups engage with the Northern European collection. I am also working with curators to put together an exhibition celebrating the artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, whose paintings are a highlight of Compton Verney’s Northern European collection.
In my final weeks based in London, I continued to attend re-hangs and installations at the National Gallery. I found it particularly eye-opening to see the lighting being adjusted for the one-room exhibition Murillo: The Self Portraits that opened in March. Subtle adjustments to the brightness of the lights made the self-portrait busts of Murillo become three-dimensional, as if the artist himself had just stepped into the room!
Another experience I had was learning how to undertake provenance research. This was a fascinating task that added intriguing layers to the history of artworks and their ownership. I also gave some more ten minute talks to members of the public on pictures from the National Gallery’s collection, and I attended a variety of lectures and conferences at the National Gallery as well as other institutions in the UK.
A particular highlight of the last few weeks with the National Gallery was being able to go on a courier trip to Norwich Castle. Not only was it great to meet new colleagues, it was also fascinating to see the logistics involved in moving pictures in and out of host venues. Seeing how conservators check over a picture thoroughly to make sure it always stays in tip-top condition was a really valuable experience. After such a diverse and exciting six months at the National Gallery, I am really looking forward to seeing what experiences my time at Compton Verney will bring.