Wildlife Photographer of the Year Review – Bella Lucchesi

As a lover of animals, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibit was extraordinary. Not only are the photos in amazing HD Quality, but there was also a movie element showing other entries that were voted as “people’s choice awards.”

The exhibit was definitely an experience, and one you should not see if you fear getting emotional in public. My experience was one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

The exhibit had a large array of photos. Some showed beautiful animals and breath-taking natural views, others were comedic, like the photo entitled “Looking for Love” by Tony Wong where a very unattractive and rather funny-looking fish seems to be smiling for the camera. Others were brutal, showing fierce battles between animals, or gruesome and rather off putting mating rituals. However, what I definitely was not expecting was how incredibly sad some were.

It could have been the picture itself, like “autopsy” by Antonio Olmos depicting a newly deceased tiger on an operating table, or it could have been the description, explaining that the beautiful creature in the photo was now extinct due to poachers. The one that really made me tear up was “Kuhirwa Mourns her Baby” by Ricardo Núñez Montero, where a gorilla is holding her dead, skeletal child in her arms. In its description it says that the female “gorilla would not give up on her dead baby. Initially she cuddled and groomed the tiny corpse, carrying it piggyback like the other mothers. Weeks later, she started to eat what was left of it”. However, as my emotions dulled after leaving the exhibition, I was left with facts that not only surprised, but entertained me.

Did you know that the tiny and colourful yellow pygmy goby often inhabits old worm holes or empty bottles or cans, lays several batches of eggs, while the male takes on guard duty to defend from intruders? That red deer shed their antlers every winter, which are made of bone, and when spring comes they regrow with a protective covering called velvet? Alongside every photo is information on how the photo was taken and interesting facts on the subject. I felt like I had seen beautiful photos come to life.

I left with a whirlwind of emotions, but more importantly, I left with the feeling that I didn’t waste my time. I learned so much and got so much out of it that when I got home I looked up the show again online and started to research different parts of the world and different plants and animals that had interested me. I think that is all you can really ask for in an exhibit: where you become so interested and inspired that you take the time to look up certain aspects of the exhibition on your own. Isn’t that the point of an exhibition anyway? To get people involved. To get people interested. To create something that people will remember.

Blog Entry #1 January 23rd, 2019

Today was my first day being a “curator-in-training” at the Nature in Art Museum in Gloucester. Although the day was busy and filled with lots of information, everyone on staff was extremely welcoming, making me feel like I was already a part of their family.

My day started off by being shown into my office! It is where the museum is housing a small library that is being catalogued at the moment, but I have a computer and a beautiful view of the grounds. (pictured). Once I settled in, I was briefed about the upcoming exhibit “Into the Blue.” As the title suggests, every artwork in the exhibition will be predominantly the colour blue. However, Nature in Art needs to find more artworks for the exhibition, so, they need to talk to collectors. This process is rather strenuous for the curator because they need to find collectors that are willing to loan out their art for the exhibition. This is where Vastari comes in. Now I know what all my art historian friends are thinking… “Isn’t Vasari the name of the renowned Italian artist in the 16th, most famous today for his Encyclopaedia of Artistic Biographies, making him the first art historian?” The answer is (I thought rather surprisingly), No. This is VasTari, an international online service provider that connects curators to collectors to collaborate on exhibition loans. You can also promote your own exhibitions, find exhibitions for your venue, promote your collection, and find objects for your exhibition. It is an incredible resource for curators to have, and one that I was very fortunate to learn about on my first day. So for the next two hours, I looked through Vastari’s fine art collection to find blue works that would fit into Nature in Arts Exhibition. However, this task proved more difficult than I initially thought, my keywords used in the search becoming increasingly more juvenile and uncreative, resulting in a Thesaurus on my lap looking up synonyms for the words “nature”, “landscape”, and “animals”. In the end, I found about 20 different artworks that could fit into the exhibition, and most importantly, I got a feel for the website.

After this online debacle, I was shown how the museum monitors their rooms/galleries and storage spaces to the correct temperature to protect their artwork. These temperature readings are kept on little black thermometers with a USB port attached to the end of them. Every month an employee plugs them into a computer to see how each room’s temperature and humidity are doing. They make sure it hasn’t gotten too hot or too cold, and they log the data into their systems. When asking for a loan for a piece of artwork, the museum needs to show this data to ensure the collector that the proper conditions have been put in place to house their work so it will not be ruined. Every certified museum needs evidence of this to be able to house objects. I was asked to take over this task every month.

Lastly, I was asked to take pictures and write a review of the exhibition Nature in Art has on now, “Wildlife Photographer of the Year”. I have to be candid and say that it was one of the best exhibits I’ve been to in a long while. If interested, you can find it on the Nature in Art website.

All in all, a very successful first day (I think, we will see what my superiors actually think when reading this account). I cannot wait to keep people posted on my year as a curator-in-training with Nature in Art.

Bella Lucchesi

Welcome Bella!

We are delighted to welcome UWE MA/MFA Curating student, Bella Lucchesi to the team at Nature in Art.

Born and raised in Northern Virginia, near Washington D.C., Bella graduated from Christopher Newport University in May 2017. She studied a double major in Oil Painting and Art History with a minor in Museum Studies. Studying alongside a wide array of artists and art historians, Bella got involved in different art mediums and art galleries around her university. She began interning at three different art galleries, helping with installation, events, and eventually curation, leading to a great interest in the field.

After graduation, Bella secured a job at a non-profit art organization called The Art League in the town of Alexandria in Virginia. In that position, Bella was responsible for planning events, installing their gallery, and administration. In addition, Bella was the Director of their Art Camps, providing professional art experience to children and teenagers. After a year and a half at the organization, Bella decided to pursue a career in curating and applied for a Masters in the subject.

Bella will be spending a day a week with us throughout 2019 working with Collections Officer, Emily Cooper, contributing to exhibitions, collections and marketing work.

Throughout the year Bella will be keeping a blog of her experiences whilst working at Nature in Art so please check back regularly to keep up to date.