24 February 2016 | Spotlight on | Back to Blog

Spotlight on Mila

Since becoming a guardian in September, Mila has volunteered around 50 hours for a variety of causes. This has ranged from refurbishing a local community hall to fundraising for a school in Gambia. In January Mila helped to organise and invigilate an exhibition at a local gallery. This is what she has to say about the experience:

Volunteers refurbishing a community hall

Volunteers refurbishing a community hall

‘For the last month, I have been volunteering at The Nunnery Gallery in Bow Church. The Nunnery is a diverse gallery run by Bow Arts that has a particular focus on site-responsive work and works that explore the history and themes of the local area.

My first volunteering duties were to assist in the painting of the gallery walls and to help hang the current show, ’Plastic Vanitas’ by Mariele Neudecker. ‘Plastic Vanitas’ is a series of photographic works exploring the expansive collection of plastic held by the Museum of Design in Plastics (MoDiP). Neudecker has photographed a selection of plastic objects that are stored in boxes and grouped together by material, size, and weight. The groups of objects at first appear quite randomly selected and the odd combinations result in new meanings and relationships created between the plastics.

The photographs are composed in the style of Vanitas still-life painting, in which everyday objects are presented as symbols of life, meaningless and death. The plastic objects in Neudecker’s photographs therefore each appear to be carrying a symbolic meaning that goes beyond their everyday purpose. The ‘Plastic Vanitas’ exhibit has particular relevance in this area of East London because in 1865, the first ever man-made plastic ‘Parkesine’ was trademarked by Alexander Parkes in a factory in Hackney Wick.

'Plastic Vanitas' Exhibit

             ‘Plastic Vanitas’ Exhibit

After helping to hang the exhibit, I had the pleasure of attending a talk by Mariele Neudecker explaining her work, her creative processes and the deeper meanings behind the show relating to the sustainable role of plastic. Whilst invigilating the show, I have had the opportunity to meet a range of people who have come to visit the gallery. It is fascinating to see that people of all ages, from infants to the elderly, visit the gallery regularly. I never realised, until now, how much of an important role an art gallery can play within a community.’

‘Plastic Vanitas’ is showing at The Nunnery until 27th March 2016. To find out more click here.

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