Monday 18 June 2017
It's National Volunteer Week so we're celebrating our wonderful Volunteer Guides.
Aucklander Jackie Halliday has been a volunteer at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki for four years. She tells us a bit about her experience.
Jackie, what made you want to become a volunteer to begin with?
My youngest grandson started school so I looked around for a volunteer position and decided I would apply to be a volunteer guide at Auckland Art Gallery
Why do you carry on volunteering here?
I love it – the art, the people and the environment.
What’s the most rewarding part of the job?
I love the challenge of preparing for new exhibitions, understanding works of art and artists that I may never have come across before, as well as delving more in depth into familiar works and artists.
I also enjoy meeting new people who come on our tours, to share my love of New Zealand art and being able to put it in an historical and social context. My background as a teacher helps me here. Lots of visitors are young tourists from overseas who often make the Gallery their first stop after landing in Auckland.
What do you find challenging?
Finding new routes around the Gallery when corridors and galleries are closed for hanging new exhibitions. This means I have to research exhibitions that are not normally on my route. Also trying to understand the more challenging pieces of contemporary art so I can talk about them in a way that will interest visitors. I try to find little snippets of information that add to what the visitor can read on the wall labels.
How has being a volunteer at the Gallery changed over the years?
It will change a lot on 1 July when tours will be paid for. This puts us on a more professional footing even though we are still volunteers.
Do you have a favourite story from your time volunteering here?
During The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand exhibition I was talking about a Lindauer painting of Te Horeta, who had met Captain Cook on board the Endeavour as a boy, when a woman in the group added more detail about this meeting and told the group about the nail Cook had given Te Horeta. She said she had just read about it in the Anthology of New Zealand Literature, published in 2012. I went looking and found his account of the meeting as told to Charles Heaphy. I was thrilled.
Why do you think volunteering is important?
I feel it's important to give back to the community in which I live, now that I have the time to do so.