During a recent archaeological dig through some of my ‘boxes of stuff’ I discovered a cache of tiny sketchpads from my days as a museum assistant. Over a decade ago I worked at a museum and art gallery containing a well-respected collection of art, genuine dinosaur bones and the most diverse team of staff you could ever wish to meet. It was my dream job and for about three years I loved it. However, at times, it could be trying and, as you can probably imagine, brain-achingly boring due to long periods of just standing there, guarding the collection and not doing anything else.
We all did it; not doing anything else. Most of us went through phases of not doing crosswords and smuggling books onto the gallery, not sleeping or chatting, not allowing ourselves the distraction afforded by plugging our ears into sneaky little radios and following the football. To stop my brain from unhinging the top of my head and scampering off with a tiny suitcase I always carried these tiny sketchpads and a pencil that I could slip inconspicuously into the breast pocket of my blazer. I wrote endless versions of a troublesome novel that to this day keeps poking me with a stick and asking to be completed. I sketched the works of art and the molluscs in cases and I designed pithy tee-shirt slogans that were going to make me a millionaire one day. And I invented the pastime of DRAWING WITHOUT LOOKING, which amused me greatly.
I obviously couldn’t close my eyes because I had to make sure no-one was nicking the Monets. Anyway, I thought you might like to see some of these recently discovered masterpieces as I haven’t drawn any cartoons today. So here you go.
Many of the assistants were frustrated artists of some sort. Often we drew the artwork or the artists themselves, which was frequently the same thing. They were always all drawing each other, when they weren’t doing other things to each other…
We were encouraged to guard the safety and security of the galleries and to ensure the visitors had an enjoyable time there, whilst also respecting the collection. Our supervisors were generous with their nuggety pearls of wisdom.
Have a lovely weekend. Museum assistants don’t get weekends.