AUGUST 2015 | Wai Lin Coultas
THE JOY of sharing about the art at Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston has kept Ann Robinson volunteering as its docent (guide) for 17 years.
This Weegena-based retiree is especially gratified by the fun that children experience when easels are set up in the portraits gallery so they can draw while their friends pose for them.
Ann also enjoys the challenge of engaging her audience with artworks she has chosen to focus on, by getting to the essence of the art.
“We don’t want to do a ‘monologue on the move’, or just give a potted history of the artist,” she emphasises. “It’s a pitfall an art galley guide can fall into!”
Besides spending time in the gallery to immerse herself in the works of art, Ann reads widely, researches all the exhibitions and discusses with the other docents, curators and artists on order to prepare her talks.
They do this each Friday morning at the Gallery by discussing guiding and reviewing last week’s tours.
“Then we practice our delivery with each other,” she adds. “(Our fellow guides are) our greatest critics!”
As QVMAG changes the exhibitions in its collections and has visiting shows too, Ann is frequently attending curator talks and researching the artworks, artists and their processes to tailor her walkthroughs to what is in season and whether she is guiding the regular Sunday tour or one specially booked by a visiting group.
“And of course my love and knowledge of art and artists have increased and deepened,” she enthuses.
As QVMAG has just 12 volunteer docents, she has the flexibility of selecting what, how, who, when and how often she guides. At the same time, QVMAG values the group’s contributions.
“They give us parking vouchers for when we work, present us with certificates of thanks each year,” she elaborates. “The curators always respond to our asking for their input too."
Information circulates through Friends of the Museum newsletters, word of mouth, the newspaper and even Facebook on what guiding at QVMAG actually entails and the commitment required.
The head guide and the education officer interview docent applicants, and successful ones undertake 3-months of training. This is followed by mentor training.
The programme is comprehensive; so an arts background is not always necessary.
“An interest and desire to interact with people and art is what’s important to have,” adds Ann.
If you wish to volunteer as a docent at QVMAG too, contact Sally Coltheart, the Guides’ Coordinator via email@example.com
Photo | Mike Moores