A little something we like to call volunteering

Cataloguing, Mosaic art

Who keeps the cogs turning, the balls rolling, and the gears oiled when it comes to the Charlotte Museum Trust? In this blog we let you in on a little secret… it’s out volunteers. Ever wondered who our volunteers are and what they do? Then read on. Here is an abridged interview with Tash, the woman behind Charlotte’s facebook page, library, and our future Mosaic workshop. Tash became involved with the Charlotte Museum Trust shortly after the Museum relocated to its current premises at 8A Bentinck Street, in fact, she arrived while they were still unpacking…

How did you become involved with the Charlotte Museum Trust?

Tash: I went to a Heroes Out West event, and Miriam [Saphira] was on the door, and so when I was leaving I actually asked her if there was any lesbian events around Auckland that she knew of, and she told me about – I think it was the newsletter she told me about – and then she talked about the Museum, and how this was here, and she gave me a card. Two weeks later I rang up and asked when it was open and what was happening, and she told me the times, and so I came in, and she showed me around the bottom room, started at the Sappho cabinet and just worked her way around, telling me the herstory and stuff, and then we were having a cup of tea and she said she was needing to put some stuff up in the garage, and I said ‘do you need a hand’, so yeah, I was helping her that day and then the next week I came back and then just kept coming back

So had you not been here long when you..?

Tash: In Auckland? No, no I had been here maybe two months? Two or three months, yeah so not long.

So she caught you really early?

Tash: Yeah I guess so, yes, yeah she did

How long ago was that?

Tash: Two years, or something… so I would come in when Miriam was here and then I would help her with stuff, and then I ended up in the library. With the library I am still sussing it out as I go.

So when you started, the books were all in boxes?

Tash: They were in boxes, and so we had to put them from A to Z [on the shelves] … and I hadn’t done that before, and it took ages, it just took me so long…. It was a real mission to learn that one. And then there were bits of paper lying around, and I would have no idea what to do with bits of paper… and then it was magazines, you know, looking through boxes of magazines and sorting out American magazines, and the different kinds – because when you sort out the boxes of magazines you have to put them in order from the most recent, and that’s really time consuming, and there are missing copies, and they could be in another box….

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The Charlotte Museum Trust’s research library contains five floor-to-ceiling bookshelves of lesbian fiction and nonfiction, and a smaller bookcase housing a New Zealand collection. And then there is a smaller lending library collection housed in the meeting room.

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What would your favourite event at the Museum have been?

Tash: I don’t know actually, there are two that I really liked… one was a printing workshop, which Miriam ran. It was really cool to use the mangle; I thought that was really wicked, I got really inspired. And then there was this discussion one night… there were like three speakers, and one was a transgender woman, and they were speaking of their stories, you know, growing up and stuff, and I just found that really interesting… it was really cool.

You must enjoy…?

Tash: I do enjoy working here, I really love it… I love working in the library, I like learning new stuff and then getting inspired and taking that further. I like networking with other people as well, like the Lilac Library, and Jenny [Rankine]… I like coming in here and shelving the books, and writing the new books down, and putting them in their places.

I like working with Miriam – Miriam’s got a lot of knowledge, you know, so when I ask her a question she can give me a really good run down of stuff –

She’s like the lesbian google of New Zealand

Tash: I know!

I like it how whether they are big or small, I do like the gatherings and exhibitions and stuff, I do like that, I think that that’s really cool.

You are also interested in running a mosaic workshop for us?

Tash: Yes, yes I am

So how did you get interested in mosaics?

Tash: It was when I was living in Colville, we put on an art exhibition… and I used to work with kids out there, so we were part of a youth programme – which was a really cool programme – and I ran a mosaic workshop with those kids. So that’s when I started to actually do mosaic… and how I got interested was through my friend Sarah, she had this mosaic hand that she made and I thought that was really cool and I wanted to do that with the kids. And then also my boy’s Dad, his mum, was a mosaic artist as well, so I got inspired by a few different things.

Is there any mosaic project that you have done that you particularly enjoyed doing?

Tash: Yeah, when I was living in Colville, I got commissioned to mosaic some chairs, you know those old-school wooden chairs? So I did a few of those, and I really enjoyed that, and it was really cool. What I liked about them was that I could put whatever I was going through or whatever I was inspired by, or anything, [onto the chairs] and there are a couple of people mosaicked onto those chairs, but not actual people, it sort of takes a different form. I really liked doing those chairs. That was cool.

It’s going to be in the Spring? The workshop is going to be in the Spring?

Tash: Yes, and we are playing around with ideas for what to do with that workshop, if it will be a collective thing.

Do people need to have an idea to come into it, or will you help them through the finding an idea process?

Tash: Just whatever, if people want to come in with their own things then that’s kind of cool, you know, and just to be around other women, that’s kind of cool. If people don’t know how to mosaic I can help them with that.

Will you do one as well, or do you just instruct?

Tash: I don’t really have time to do – you don’t really have time to do your own. I could probably bring something in that was mine, because I am working on something at the moment as well. It was with a friend of mine, and we have started to mosaic on a mannequin torso. So I’ve started half of that, and then she was going to do the other half. So yeah, I could probably bring something in of mine. But people who don’t know how to mosaic, you actually have to be a bit more hands on, you know, just instruct… but you don’t get too involved, you actually just let people go.

Thanks Tash!

If you are interested in meeting Tash and enrolling in her Spring workshop, keep an eye out for future events on Charlotte’s facebook

And if you live in Auckland and want to volunteer at the Charlotte Museum Trust, then send us an email at charlottemuseum@gmail.com, we are always interested in people who might help us run events or work with us to preserve our collection. It’s a great way to gain skills for your cv, or to fill in some spare time in the company of great people like Tash 🙂

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