Marsh Awards 2017

On Wednesday 29 November the seventh annual Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education celebrated the hard work and dedication of colleagues working within the sector of gallery, museum and visual arts education. The Awards are funded by the The Marsh Charitable Trust (formerly known as the Marsh Christian Trust) and run by Engage, the support and advocacy organisation for gallery education, whose mission is to increase access to the visual arts.

Five individuals received awards, presented by David Booker, Ambassador for the The Marsh Charitable Trust (formerly known as the Marsh Christian Trust), during the annual Engage International Conference in Hull. The Awards are open to colleagues working in galleries and visual arts organisations, and colleagues are invited to nominate deserving co-workers every summer. The winners receive £500 to spend on their professional development, and feedback from previous awardees has been overwhelmingly positive – as a result of the Awards colleagues receive recognition for their work and have reported increased confidence and opportunities, as well as benefits for the organisations where they worked.

This is the seventh year that Engage has celebrated the achievements of colleagues through the Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education. There was a very high quality of nominations for individuals from the UK and internationally, at all stages of their careers, freelancers, employees and volunteers. We are delighted to work with the Marsh Christian Trust to mark the vital work of colleagues in visual arts education.

Jane Sillis, Director of Engage

The recipients were:

Molly Bretton, Access and Communities Manager, Royal Academy, London

Molly’s career in learning and inclusion in arts organisations began at the 2008 Liverpool Biennial, where she formed partnerships to increase access to art and learning, followed by a role at Shape Arts where she worked to make arts and culture venues and events accessible for disabled people. Molly started working at the Royal Academy (RA) in 2012 and since then has increased the gallery’s offer for disabled people and those facing barriers to arts participation. Her accomplishments include developing workshops for families with SEN children; organising an annual conference for those who work with SEND children, attracting presenters and participants from the UK and beyond; working with service users from RA community partners to be presenters at other RA Learning programmes; developing evenings in which disabled artists and creative people facing barriers accessing the art world present their practice; and presenting practical workshops for people experiencing moderate to severe dementia. Thanks to Molly’s initiatives all RA programmes for access and community audiences are funded and are free to participants.

In nominating Molly, Beth Schneider, Head of Education at the RA underlined her dedication to her audiences.

Molly has expanded and refined the RA Access and Communities programme to focus on creating communities of people engaged with art. Artists with learning disabilities and mental health issues from the RA’s community partners now present workshops and talks at RA Learning programmes for families, Access audiences and adults. Through her programmes Molly helps people who have felt excluded find a home and a voice as artists.

Molly would like to use her Award to undertake an intensive project management course, to expand the reach of the RA’s Access and Community Programmes without taking on additional open-ended commitments

Juliette Buss, Learning & Engagement Curator Photoworks, Brighton

Juliette has nearly twenty years’ experience of working in the visual arts, heritage and education sector. Previous freelance work includes research, evaluation and project management for V&A, NESTA, Wellcome Trust, Towner Gallery and Turner Contemporary, amongst others. She has also written a range of digital heritage learning resources, most recently for Giddy Brighton – an app and website exploring teenage memories from post-war Brighton.

Juliette is responsible for developing the Learning and Engagement programme for Photoworks, securing funding and creating ongoing opportunities for the widest possible audiences to engage with, learn about and enjoy photography. Recent successes include CPD programmes for teachers that have raised literacy attainment in primary schools in Sussex, and Brighton Photo Biennial 2016, produced by Photoworks, attracting more than 315k visitors with nearly 40% of the programme focussed on children and young people. Juliette was nominated by Celia Davies, outgoing Director at Photoworks, who underlined the importance of Juliette’s recent work with LGBTQ+ communities in Into the Outside, a heritage-learning project building a contemporary queer youth archive that shares and celebrates stories from LGBTQ+ young people in Brighton & Hove and beyond. Juliette would like to use the Award to undertake arts leadership training that will help inform and shape thinking around future learning and engagement programme ideas at Photoworks.

Litza Juhász, Museum Educator, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

Born and raised in the United States, Litza Juhász has studied and worked in Carthage, Moscow, Vilnius and Budapest. Her MA thesis in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, California has helped her create pioneering programmes at the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. Passionately interested in improving art education materials, she has produced many innovative trails, published an ABC book for the Museum’s collection and explored how interactivity can facilitate learning and understanding and heighten visitors’ overall experience.

Litza was nominated by Sue Grayson-Ford, founder of The Campaign for Drawing/The Big Draw, who credits her with introducing The Big Draw to Hungary and supporting 120 museums to take part. In her nomination, Sue highlighted Litza’s development of the innovative DepARTures programme, which provides a framework for language teaching inspired by and based on diverse works of art from a museum collection. DepARTures interrogates contemporary issues and provides an opportunity for teenagers to express their ideas in a safe environment. Litza has since extended the programme and now offers story-telling and puzzle-solving materials based on the museum’s collection for teachers to use in a 3-4-week unit at school. As Litza plans to continue developing DepARTures, the Award provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the programme to date and consider how it can continue to meet the needs of future visitors.

Gina Mollett, Freelance Artist Educator

Gina’s interest in gallery education and learning stems from her significant Youth Panel experience at City Gallery, Leicester, National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers Gallery, and the BBC. Since becoming an Artist Educator two years ago Gina Mollett has worked across key institutions in the East Midlands, including Nottingham Contemporary, New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, the New Art Exchange, and the National Justice Museum. She became closely involved in The Diversion project at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery and supported Maria Zahle during her residency at the venue for the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award 2014. These projects fuelled her interest in gallery spaces, and the acceptable codes of behaviour within them. She has since produced a number of collaborative projects in both gallery and community settings, and her interest lies in the role of art and education in addressing human rights subjects.

Gina was nominated by Hugo Worthing, Arts Curator at The Gallery at De Montfort University. In her nomination Hugo said

(Gina’s) real institutional impact, that clearly reaches beyond her job role, has been in influencing the strategic thinking of organisations around the role of learning. Her approach in which workshop content remains open and playful and responsive has allowed new audiences to engage in gallery spaces who otherwise would have been put off. This has led to changes to planning around learning provision within New Walk Museum and Art Gallery and The Gallery to ensure that open-ended workshop activity is facilitated and supported allowing new audiences a deep engagement with the venue.

Gina intends to use her Award to explore learning as a curatorial practice.

Holly Rumble, Artist & Public Engagement Coordinator, Tramway, Glasgow

Holly was nominated by Jo Walmsley, Arts Producer at Tramway, for her ‘unrelenting energy and commitment to providing meaningful opportunities for audience engagement with contemporary art’. Having joined the gallery two years ago to deliver the learning programme for the 2015 Turner Prize, Holly has since developed TRYOUT as a legacy from the exhibition’s learning programme. This takes the form of free, drop-in workshops on a Sunday afternoon that are inspired by current exhibitions in the venue and designed to provide entry points for different ages, levels of knowledge and ability. TRYOUT has become an opportunity for a wide community to experience, create and explore contemporary art alongside each other—at any given session there may be families with young children sitting next to older adults, and opposite a group of students from the Glasgow School of Art.

With over fifteen years’ experience working in contemporary arts as an artist, facilitator and producer, Holly has previously delivered education programmes at Firstsite Gallery, Colchester and Norwich Arts Centre. Holly is also a practicing artist, having graduated from Wimbledon School of Art with a BA Fine Art: Painting and achieved an MA in Animation and Sound Design at Norwich University of the Arts. She has presented work across the UK and in Finland, Japan, and Hong Kong. Holly plans to use the Award to research and share best practice relating to models of engaging under-fives and primary school age children in contemporary art.