Volunteering – an AND survivor speaks!

Tue 06 Aug 2013

A Small Cinema at AND 2011 in Chinatown, LiverpoolPictured: What volunteering at AND is all about – getting out of the galleries, onto the streets and into imaginations.

With our 2013 call for volunteers now open, we invited former volunteer Steph Whalley to say a few words about life behind the scenes at AND…

Throwing two fingers up in the flaccid face of ‘normality’, Abandon Normal Devices is an event which showcases new cinema, digital culture and art.

I’ve been asked to talk about my time volunteering for the festival the last time it was staged in Liverpool, the whirlwind of chaotic brilliance that was AND 2011.

I got to work in a multitude of spaces: the indoor galleries of FACT, venues looking out over the infamous cobbles of Liverpool’s Bold Street… even Knowsley Safari Park.

The most memorable event by far was the outdoor film screening in Chinatown hosted by A Small Cinema (pictured above). The atmosphere that night was fantastic as the 300 chairs were filled and pavements lined with wide-eyed spectators. It was amazing to see how enthusiastically the audience embraced and interacted with this project.

I was lucky enough to work with artists from all corners of the globe, getting a glimpse into the imaginations of people like John O’Shea, the brains behind the Pigs Bladder Football exhibition, and Revital Cohen, whose The Immortal (see slideshow below) was a harrowing piece consisting of four gasping life support machines.

As an artist myself, I could imagine the sense of pride and satisfaction that each artist must have felt as their exhibition venues evolved from empty spaces into an eclectic array of intriguing works of art: some beautiful, some thought-provoking, others quite disturbing – but all a refreshing break from convention.

As a keen writer, I was also able to use any downtime to develop my journo skills by interviewing the artists, including a chat with Stephen Fortune about his project Data Mining && Divination.

(Editor’s note: Stephen is returning to curate the Life on Film screening at AND 2013.)

Anything that invigorates the mundane and causes a bit of a stir pushes my buttons. And to be a part of AND in Liverpool, a city so close to my heart, was a fantastic experience.

I’d recommend anyone to volunteer for the event no matter what age you are, interests you have or walk of life you are from. There are skills to be gained for everyone through doing so, be it people skills, physical involvement with the set up of large-scale events in the public arena, teamwork or even just to meet like-minded people and generate inspiration while gaining some invaluable connections.

I absolutely loved volunteering at AND, getting the chance to see the cogs which make an event such as this run so smoothly, assisting in putting them in action as well as meeting brilliant people and new friends. So, thanks again, AND Fest!

Steph Whalley

Steph blogs about film, photography and more at stephanieharrietwhalley.wordpress.com.

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