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A volunteer’s view of the exhibition

I’m a volunteer – it’s the day before we open and dozens of people are raising exhibition screens, arranging signage, checking in artwork and carefully and systematically hanging it. It surely can’t be finished in time – but the next morning everything is in its place, all labelled and well-positioned. I am no longer a volunteer I’m a visitor to an exhibition and blown away by the brilliant array of shapes, colours, textures, landscapes, ideas and pure individual creativity surrounding me. A couple of hours of looking and thinking how worthwhile all the hard work had been – then home.

To return in the evening, impressed as always by the wonderfully focused and polite students welcoming the visitors – but now I’m an artist. Crowds of people are thronging the aisles (a quick check to see if I’m in the Top Twenty – oh well…) and then the slight disappointment smoothed away listening to the school’s fine principal saying how proud he is to host the exhibition and involve the students in raising it, followed by words from. Dr Cathy Burke, from the University. Short and to the point – without involving our children in creativity we’re lost!

At the end of the weekend I was a volunteer again (but the artist was glad to have sold a picture!) and I decided that the most satisfying aspect of the whole event was that – whoever you are – you can take part in it: if you are an artist you can enter – there is no selection process – if you are a visitor, perhaps with friends at the Preview, having a glass of wine, finding out more about their likes and dislikes, or perhaps buying a painting that will always remain a focal talking point in your home. Or bringing the family at the weekend and being very interested in the artworks your children choose in the Win a Picture draw.

Or, of course, you could be a volunteer – at this exhibition or one near you.

Or all of them!