Volunteer Profile February 2020

Ashley is a postgraduate student at the University of Melbourne. As well as studying law, she has a passion for history and museums, which drew her to the Grainger Museum's Volunteer Program.

Can you tell us a bit about your background, and why you applied to volunteer at the Grainger Museum?
I moved over from Perth at the start of 2019 to commence postgraduate studies at the University of Melbourne. I studied a Bachelor of Arts back home, majoring in Law & Society, and Classics & Ancient History. I chose to study Law but missed the sense of curiosity inherent within the historical discipline & its adherents. I saw  the opportunity to volunteer at the Museum and jumped at the opportunity to get out of the legal bubble and surround myself with all the things I enjoy about history – the connection between the past and the present, the discourse and the people! I’ve volunteered at the Grainger Museum for almost a year now and have no regrets.

What has been the most surprising aspects of volunteering at the Grainger Museum?

The range of people who visit the museum and engage in conversation about the various aspects of Percy Grainger’s life. There are people from Australia, the UK, Europe and America who have had long-lasting interactions with Grainger’s music,  students from the university completing interdisciplinary projects, passers-by who take the chance to broaden their horizons, often unaware of the specifics of the Museum when they enter through its doors. Some days are quiet, but that does not detract from the diversity of the patrons that do come inside to explore.

Do you have a favourite object that is currently on display at the Grainger Museum?

There are so many curiosities to choose from! I am particular to both the viola and Percy’s bright & eccentric towel clothing. But at the moment, I enjoy looking at his non-musical forays into art. I like to look at his water colour paintings, sketches and album designs as tales of his very robust expressions and mannerisms when both performing and living his everyday life. It amazes me how often individuals who are prodigiously talented in one artistic medium can express themselves profoundly in other ways too. In some ways I relate more to these non-musical elements of Museum’s collection.

Percy Grainger, Sketchbook, c. 1896. Watercolour, graphite and ink on paper. Grainger Museum Collection

What do you do when you are not volunteering at the Grainger?

I am in my second year of the Juris Doctor; I work casually in customer service at various events and venues; I tutor some history subjects (externally to the university); I am a volunteer paralegal at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre; I like contributing to the organisation of postgraduate activities within my residential college and finally, I read and collect books from many genres, but especially: fantasy and crime/mystery fiction, human rights non-fiction.

Thank you Ashley.