By Operations Manager Jamie Jones
I am fortunate enough to work at Plymouth Arts Centre, and part of my role is to coordinate our fantastic Volunteers. I enjoy recruiting and working with volunteers, as they are doing something to help us out of the goodness of their hearts, and therefore love the arts centre as much, if not more than I do.
When I see a volunteer “get something” out of their time with us, whether it be a new skill, or help getting into work, I couldn’t be happier. That is why I wanted to write about Juliet, as she is one of those people who made me very happy.
As part of Plymouth History Festival, Juliet Middleton-Batts will be holding an exhibition of her work on Friday 30 and Saturday 31 May, 10am to 5pm in our Batter Street building entitled “Lost Senses”.
Juliet volunteered her time to our curatorial team and assisted them with the organisation of Sara Bowler’s “Looe Street Detectives” exhibition and she was very much appreciated. This internship turned into a bit of a journey for Juliet, as, whilst she was working on the project that was unearthing the stories of Looe Street, Juliet was coming across her own “hidden narratives” that were to be learned of in other parts of this historical building.
When Juliet learned that John Kitto, a local resident, fell off a ladder in Batter Street and went deaf, her interest was piqued. When Juliet found that one of our studio spaces had recently become vacant, she had an idea. Juliet approached our curatorial team with an idea for a residency in the Batter Street Studio, that would lead to an exhibition. This proposal was happily accepted and Juliet started work straight away. Juliet feels she has the confidence to say she “has a good idea of how a place like this works” after her internship and the contacts she made were invaluable.
Juliet was involved in Plymouth History Festival in 2013 and held an installation at Smeaton’s Tower. After learning that Smeaton’s Tower was moved from sea to land, she used mirrors to surround the lighthouse and emphasise this displacement. Juliet has a fascination with “quirky” stories and John Kitto’s journeying has been the cause for much inspiration. Born in Stillman Street, in and out of the workhouse, and a lover of reading, Mr Anthony Groves of Exeter took John Kitto under his wing. This led to him travelling to Malta, St Petersburg, Baghdad and many other exotic places that a man born into poverty in the early nineteenth century was never likely to see. When John Kitto died at 50, he had married, had ten children, become a significant contributor to Christian Scholarship, a Doctor of Divinity, as well as many other achievements. Juliet’s exhibition includes interesting ideas for documenting this journey, that began with a boy falling off a ladder.
Volunteers week is 1 – 7 June and there will be events held across the city for volunteers to be recognised for their hard work. We have a loyal volunteer nominated for the “long term commitment award” and my fingers are crossed that on 5th June, he will win the recognition he deserves.
If you are interested in volunteering at Plymouth Arts Centre, please read this page for more info and contact details.