Kate Downey, Collections Access Assistant, Hartlepool Museum and Heritage Service
For my placement I conducted research into works by four artists in Hartlepool Museums and Heritage Service’s collection. These included Mrs Wainwright, Arthur Benson and Colonel Pounder by Stephen Crowther, A Hartlepool Fisherman by Philip Basil Bennison, A Hartlepool Fishwife by John William Howey and Negro by Enrico Equi. All artists are local to the North East region and many of them are under-represented nationally. The paintings are all post-impressionist works that span the twentieth century. My aim was to obtain or increase existing information on both artists and sitters to support exhibition interpretation and related creative writing projects. The impetus for my research was the forthcoming portraiture exhibition In thy Face I See. As a result of my research I have added information to the Museum’s catalogue system, which will be available at www.teesmuseums.com and I have updated object history files. I have written display labels for the portraits, which were used in the exhibition; these included interpretative labels and creative writing starting points. I collated my research into a resource for use by a creative writer to provide additional layers of interpretation for the exhibition. The placement enabled me to visit various research facilities such as the NPG Heinz Archive and Library as well as local archives in the North East region. I met with curators at the National Portrait Gallery and York Art Gallery to research interpretation and engagement methods in relation to portraiture and creative writing. I also liaised with relatives, local historians, authors and researchers of the artists and sitters who were an excellent resource. The research placement was an excellent opportunity to carry out portraiture related research, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It has allowed me the opportunity to improve my study skills and has raised my awareness of the wealth of resources available for research in this area. It has also enabled the museum service to further its knowledge of the portraiture collection.