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“It’s been enlightening”

History student Ethan Harding gained valuable work experiences at the University of Hull during the Hull UK City of Culture year: firstly as a Gallery Assistant on a National Portrait Gallery exhibition and secondly as Curatorial Assistant on the Larkin: New Eyes Each Year exhibition.

15th March 2018

New Eyes Each Year offered a fresh perspective on the life of the man described as Britain’s best-loved poet with a collection of personal artefacts in the library where he served as Librarian for 30 years.

Ethan said: “I was already a fan of Larkin’s work and when I heard there was going to be an exhibition I was really looking forward to seeing it. So when an opportunity to work on the exhibition arose I applied straight away.

I initially became involved with the on-campus City of Culture programme by being a Gallery Assistant during the National Portrait Gallery’s BP Portrait Award exhibition. This gave me some really valuable experience such as leading group tours, assisting visitors and providing guidance.

When I got the position of Curatorial Assistant on Larkin: New Eyes Each Year, I made a start on brushing up on my knowledge of his works and listening to his desert island discs to find out more about his character.

It was a great feeling to take part in this project. I’ve been responsible for a full range of curatorial tasks such as photographing, cataloguing and preparing items for exhibition. It’s given me the chance to gain further experience in areas I’m interested in: I have a passion for textiles and tailoring and I’ve been involved with assisting the curation of some of the clothing that formed part of the exhibition.

For example there are 119 of Larkin’s ties in the exhibition – I was responsible for cataloguing, preparing and organising those and they ultimately became a ‘tree of ties’ for display in the show.

Working on the exhibition I’ve gained a greater understanding of the person behind the poetry: who he was, what he did in his life, the people that influenced him and what he was into. It’s been enlightening and a lot of makes sense in the context of his poetry.

It’s been absolutely fascinating and has given me new ideas of what I might want to do when I finish my degree. I’m interested in pursuing curatorial work and this would be a career I could incorporate my historical interests with.

I can’t describe how much I have enjoyed every minute, the opportunity has been incredible. I’ve seen how an exhibition is put together, how much is involved in the process and it has encouraged me to explore a career in the same sort of field.

It’s been wonderful to be a part of this from start to finish. I thought the end result was stunning.”