Emily Breedon, Learning Assistant at the Gallery of Modern Art, tells us about her experience working from home and adapting to online learning.
The global pandemic has changed our working lives in a way that has never been experienced before, with many of us now working virtually in our homes and relying on digital means. For the small learning team at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow [GoMA], we took the opportunity of working from home to transform our blog into a digital space where we could stay in touch with our audiences and continue our engagement whilst our doors were closed. During lockdown, we developed a new section of our blog, At Home, which invites readers to join us in activities, discussions and readings, and provides virtual access to our exhibitions, both past and present.
Through At Home, we were able to continue our informal learning programme for a variety of audiences. Within our Family Activities section, we post weekly Saturday Art Club activities where families can still be inspired by our collections to make artworks together at home. We have also catered for our adult audiences, with a whole Adult Activities section that is updated with monthly mindful exercises and design activities. In addition, we created a Collection Musings segment, to appeal to those who may not feel particularly arty but are intrigued by our collection. These pieces delve into the stories behind our artists and artworks and explore various themes, including mental health, climate change and LGBTQ+ identities. The research done in writing these posts has also given us the chance to learn more about the artists in our collection, an advantage gained from having more time due to the pause of our busy daily lives.
Our activities are tailored for lockdown life, with a focus on making artworks with what you can find in and around your home. Other activities encourage our audiences to be inspired by the more positive aspects of quarantine, such as finding joy in daily walks. For example, one of our Mindful Art posts, ‘Wonderful Walks’, encourages readers to create artworks inspired by one of their lockdown walks. We hope that this creates a sense of community, that we’re all going through this unprecedented challenge together. Although we’re trying to offer respite from the global situation, it felt important to us to not simply ignore it, but rather acknowledge it in an attempt to promote positive mental wellbeing.
By producing blog content, we have also had the opportunity to connect with different organisations, including Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, Queer Heritage Forum and Engage. Through this engagement, we’ve been involved in various online events, including PrideOnline2020 and Children’s Art Week, creating different activities and blog posts that tie in with them. For example, we tailored three of our Saturday Art Club posts to centre around the different themes of Children’s Art Week, even collaborating with artist Sally Hackett for one of them. By participating in various events, we’ve been able to promote our blog and reach out to new audiences, who may have never been involved with GoMA before.
As a team, developing our blog has given us crucial experience in adapting content digitally, a skill that we perhaps would not have had time to learn if it was not for working at home. We’ve learnt how to write blog posts for different audiences, create online activities including in video form, as well as transcribe videos. We’ve also learnt how to adapt our content into making realistic activities for families to do at home, where resources are perhaps limited, and so the majority of our family activities are quite simple and rely on using recyclable materials. Working from home has therefore provided us with the opportunity to gain new skills and experiment with ideas, experience that will be vital to us when we’re eventually back in the office.
At Home is a resource that, as a team, we’re going to continue even when we’re back open. For safety reasons, we’re not able to offer drop-in workshops and we’re aware that many people may not feel comfortable entering the building. By continuing our online activities even post-lockdown, we’ll be able to maintain our engagement with many audiences and offer ongoing resources and support.
As for everyone, working from home has been tough for us at GoMA when trying to juggle all aspects of life. We’ve all had to adapt to our new work routine and this, paired with the anxieties of COVID-19, has been stressful at times. But from a positive angle, we’ve been given a unique opportunity to work collectively on our blog, allowing it to flourish, with the aim of inspiring audiences all over, in the comfort of their own homes. Although we’ve missed our visitors when hosting our workshops, the creation of At Home has become our wee digital capsule of our work, an opportunity to connect and stay in touch.
Feel free to keep up with the Gallery of Modern Art here: https://galleryofmodernart.blog/