Volunteer Perspective - Nadia Sommella

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June 29, 2018, 10:39 a.m.

Having been accepted to study art history at the University of Birmingham I was actively searching for work experience in the field of art, culture and heritage. I wanted hands on experience in the industry I would like to pursue, both to validate that this was the right career for me, and to get a wider idea of what goes on behind the scenes of these institutions.

Having many fond childhood experiences at Forty Hall; from school trips and summer workshops, to picnics and dog-walks on the surrounding public grounds, I filled in an application to volunteer. I was given the role of Education and Programming Volunteer, which really allowed me to see the hall come to life and engage with the public. Hopefully providing children with the same warm memories that I had, that had beckoned me to return as an adult.

I was given the opportunity to get involved in many aspects of the running of a heritage site. My colleagues trusted me with planning, organising and assisting in summer sessions for children, as well as under-5 workshops and educational school trips, and I was able to learn further from observing their work. It is the work that these people put in and this added value that turns Forty Hall from a beautiful, historical building to a centre for the community, an educational tool and a time machine for young children.

In my 'Perfect Portraiture' workshop, I was able to use my knowledge of art history to lead a group on a trail of the portraiture displayed at the hall, and the symbolism and meanings within the paintings. The children then created their own self portrait, enabling them to use these symbols for themselves. With each task I was given my passion for the field grew, and I was sure that this was the path for me. I was also able to learn transferrable skills, such as working within a team, planning to a deadline, archiving resources and buying resources within a budget.

Overall I found volunteering at Forty Hall an enriching experience that has helped me grow both professionally and personally, with newfound knowledge and a newfound confidence in my abilities.

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