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by Jen Wilbur

This summer, I was the undergraduate research scholar for Midlands Art Papers (MAP) – an online journal created by the University of Birmingham’s Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies in partnership with institutions from across the Midlands. I was really excited to be given this opportunity and have found it greatly rewarding. I’ve developed many skills that will help me with both my academic and professional career.

I was asked to write an art trail for the next issue of MAP. It highlights works from our partner institutions based around the theme of ‘disability and inclusivity’. I visited each of the galleries and in many cases was given access to the archives and curatorial files. As an art history student, I found this work was really enjoyable and rewarding. This has given me great experience with cross-sector working and working with archive files.

It was interesting creating the art trail as we wanted to ensure the works included were as diverse as possible and showcased female, black and ethnic minority, and disabled artists. The trail explores gender, race and ethnicity, disability, and mental wellbeing. It was tricky at times as some of the works had no or little research on, such as Eileen Agar’s Double Take in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery which I was unable to find any information on. Other works are well-known and have had a lot of research done on them already (e.g. Study for Rock Drill c.1913 by Jacob Epstein in the Walsall New Art Gallery Collection) and so I tried to approach them from a new and different angle. I truly enjoyed exploring these works and figuring out how best to approach them.

As well as the art trail, I helped with the preparation of the next issue of MAP. I contacted galleries in order to clear the copyright for images included in the journal. Being able to understand how copyright clearance works is highly important, especially for a career in writing and the production of journal’s. I also formatted the articles so that they are ready for publication. As I am interested in pursuing a career in writing and publication, I appreciated being able to gain this experience.

Although I have finished my undergraduate research scholarship, I will be continuing to work with MAP on a voluntary basis. I have been running the MAP social media and blog, and am going to keep doing this as it is a great way for me to gain marketing experience and to develop my writing further.

I have really appreciated my time working with Midlands Art Papers. I am extremely proud of the art trail I have written and am looking forward to it being published when the next issue of MAP is launched on Wednesday 13th November. The experience I have gained is invaluable and will help me throughout my academic and further career, and I am glad to be able to continue running the social media and blog for Midlands Art Papers.

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