St George’s proves a 'source of inspiration' for BNG intern
Looking through the permanent collection of the Bermuda National Gallery, what struck Alice Moniz was just how many paintings there were of 20th century St George’s.
It was the first step of many on the road to A Source of Inspiration, a collection of 16 works by Reynolds Beale, Harry Leslie Hoffman, Emma Fordyce Macrae and other artists, that opened on January 13.
Ms Moniz, who graduated with a degree in art history from The University of Edinburgh last year, was given the opportunity as part of an intern programme the gallery offers. Having never done anything like it before, she was initially overwhelmed.
“I had to build a text around the images, decide which were going to go into the exhibition, decide the layout. And then there was the other aspect, that the Ondaatje Wing has to be, more or less, historic works of Bermuda. There were a lot of things I had to consider. The room used to be red and then we painted it white. And then there was the physical installation, which we did ourselves. It was really cool for me to be part of all of those aspects.
“But initially, I felt it was daunting. I definitely was nervous about it but the team at the BNG is super open and approachable and supportive. So, even though along the way I found it challenging, they were there if I was anxious about something or wasn’t sure how to do something. They helped me at every step along the way so I didn’t feel like I was in it on my own.”
She spent “an exciting” week in 2019 shadowing Sophie Cressall, the curator at the BNG, before signing up for the formal intern programme last year.
As described on the gallery’s website it “provides paid opportunities for people aged 18 to 25 within the arts and culture sector as well as career development and training in all aspects of museum operations”.
According to Ms Moniz, it exposed her to “a broad range” of experiences she considers invaluable.
“Obviously the exhibition was a big part of that, being involved from its conception to its execution, but I was also involved in the more day-to-day running of the museum.”
She particularly enjoyed helping out on the front desk, which gave her the chance to engage with visitors to the gallery, and making activity packs for Par-la-Ville Sculpture Park, a joint project between the BNG and the Corporation of Hamilton.
“That was a real highlight for me, the breadth of experience I had,” Ms Moniz said. “I studied history of art and it was a much more conceptual degree. I never actually physically got an exhibition.
“I would highly recommend [the BNG programme]. Coming out of university it was such an amazing and open space to grow in, it was really character building, kind of getting to know my own strengths and weaknesses and understanding what I like and don’t like. I think there was a lot of opportunity and flexibility. I think what made it so amazing also, was that the team there is just very open and supportive and approachable and I think that made it such a great environment to learn in and to work in.”
Although she has a degree in hand, Ms Moniz is not yet sure where it will take her.
“I think it’s been a very organic development. When I started studying the history of art there was no specific end point. I had always been very interested in, and exposed to, art and museums in general growing up. Eventually [my studies] led me to a much broader theme of sociology of art so [I am now] really interested in the social context around art and the inequalities in the creative and cultural industries.
“This experience at the Bermuda National Gallery has been invaluable to me. It’s really been a hands-on experience in a museum space and understanding how it works and so I’d like to further my knowledge. I’m very interested in the museum and its intersections with social justice. And so I think I’d like to go and do a master’s at [University College London] in museum studies.”
But first, she is off to Venice, Italy – as soon as Covid-19 allows. An Italian friend suggested a three-month intern programme at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection might be something that would interest her. Approximately 150 “international students who share a passion for art” participate over the course of each year.
“It is meant to be in March but it might be postponed,” Ms Moniz said. “Like everything, it’s just waiting and seeing how things pan out. When I go to Venice, all the interns have to give a seminar so I’m working on a personal project [that I will have to present as part of the programme]. Other than that I am just at home in Bermuda – which is pretty ideal.”
See A Source of Inspiration: St George's as Seen Through the Bermuda National Gallery Collection in the Ondaatje Wing of the Bermuda National Gallery. Formore information on the museum’s intern programme visit www.bermudanationalgallery.com/education/. For details on becoming an intern with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection see www.guggenheim-venice.it/en/learn/internship-program/