1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role as College Curator?
I am Dr Laura MacCulloch. I look after all the art on campus from the beautiful collection of Victorian paintings in the Picture Gallery to the sculptures you see in the quads in Founders and the mural ‘Enigma’ in the International Building. Over half the collection are prints, drawings or watercolours which are too fragile to be on permanent display so I look after them in our purpose built art store and curate exhibitions highlighting these collections in the exhibition space in the Davison Building. In this role I am jack of all trades – I make sure that the collections are displayed and stored in the right conditions, make the collections accessible to students, staff and the public through public opening hours and digital talks and films, research the collections for exhibitions, teach undergraduate and postgraduate students using the collections and organise conservation for any items needing some extra care.
2. You’ve recently presented a series of mini documentaries for Heritage Open Days on the theme ‘Edible England’. What did you find most interesting about the College’s culinary connections, and did you come across anything particularly unexpected or surprising?
I loved stepping back in time and getting to nose in the kitchens! I loved seeing the old room names on the under kitchens which helped me to imagine how busy it must have been in those spaces when Royal Holloway College first opened, with food preparation, cutlery polishing and food deliveries coming in. The early students would never have seen that side of life at the College. I was particularly pleased to be asked to be the guinea pig for two of the suffrage recipes that our Head Chef Gary and his team brought to life. I was a bit nervous but both were delicious and once the camera stopped rolling I had seconds!
3. What do you find most enjoyable in your role as College Curator?
Showing the collections to students, staff and visitors and seeing them engage with the art. I’ve really missed being able to have people in the Picture Gallery and I can’t wait for our first opening hours in over a year on 29th September. At first we will be doing bookable time slots but hopefully we’ll be back to longer hours soon.
4. How can colleagues, students and members of the public learn more about the College’s collections?
Head to the art collections website to find out more. We have a digital museum so you can access audio tours, audio descriptions, talks and films 24 hours a day. You can also see information on the collections via the app Smartify which you can use to find out more about the paintings when you come to visit the gallery and on the website Art UK.
5. How do you like to spend your free time outside of work?
With a five year old daughter much of my time is spent having fun with her but I learnt to sew in lockdown and have been enjoying have been making all sorts of creations. I love to travel and I can’t wait do more of that in the future.
Picture Gallery viewing times for Wednesday 29 September can be found here (this is for internal opening only - there will be more opportunities for public viewing in November).