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Profile: Lucy Cordingley, College Collections Exhibitions and Access Coordinator

Profile: Lucy Cordingley, College Collections Exhibitions and Access Co-Ordinator

Eton College is home to vast collections of magnificent and formidable artistic and literary works. Each year, thousands of visitors visit the exhibition galleries, reading rooms and historic spaces. In this time of virtual learning, however, online catalogues and digital resources are becoming increasingly more effective in allowing wider access. The Press Office was fortunate to interview Lucy Cordingley, the College Collections Exhibitions and Access Coordinator, to better understand her invaluable role in sharing the College’s collections  and her experiences of online exhibitions in a COVID-19 world.

Can you tell us about your work at Eton, and how long you have worked here?

I have worked in the College Collections as Exhibitions and Access Coordinator since July 2018. My role allows me to work across the seven different college collections, logistically supporting curators to execute four different exhibitions a year across two galleries: The Verey Gallery and the Tower Gallery. I also act as registrar for the college, facilitating loans of objects and artworks to exhibitions around the UK and internationally. I also manage adult events and visits to Eton College Collections – whether that’s running a weekend trail in collaboration with Windsor Festival and Fringe, opening the galleries for community groups or coordinating an evening event for the Friends of the Eton College Collections. It’s a very varied role and no day is ever the same!

Has your passion for this field of work been a life-long one?

Absolutely! I had a wonderful A Level History of Art teacher who ignited a fascination for the subject which has stayed with me and dictated the course of my career so far. I studied History of Art at university and my first role after graduating was as Learning Coordinator at Watts Gallery – a role which allowed me to work on widening access to the art collection through running a community arts programme. This confirmed my desire to work in museums and galleries – ideally within a role which allowed me to share my passion for the subject. After leaving Watts Gallery I trained as a secondary teacher with Teach First and finding a job which allowed me to work with an historic collection within a school seemed ideal.

What interests do you pursue outside of school?

I live in London and I try to make the most of visiting museums and galleries across the capital during my free time. Before the pandemic, I was really enjoying a pottery course and have been learning how to throw on a wheel – something which I find all consuming and wonderful way to relax after work! I am also in a book club which meets once a month, so I am always trying to find time to get through books during the week. I love cooking and enjoy trying out new recipes at home.

What are your own personal experiences of the COVID-19 crisis, and how has it affected your daily routine at home and at school?

With many thanks to Anna Kempster and Rachel Bond, the Eton College Collections team were very quickly able to use Microsoft Teams to access all our files and folders from home – which is where I have been working since lockdown began. As a team, we meet every day in the office for a coffee at 11am, so this has continued online which has been wonderful and helped everyone to keep a sense of routine during the working day. Luckily, I have been able to work on future projects from home, such as upcoming exhibitions and the new website. Being busy with work has certainly helped to take my mind off the Covid-19 crisis which has certainly been needed at points during the last 7 weeks.

I live with my partner who works as an anaesthetist and has been redeployed to work in intensive care throughout the crisis and therefore his day shifts have been much longer than normal and nightshifts have become frequent– so it has taken some time getting used to being alone at home a lot of time. My father also works in London in intensive care and therefore he has also been staying with us to avoid taking the virus home and also it means he doesn’t need to make the longer journey when he is very tired.  As a result, our flat seems to have become a very small NHS refuelling station of sorts – speedy meals together at night when they’re back from work and sleepy breakfasts after their night shifts. My Dad became quite unwell with the virus at the end of March – which was a very worrying time - but after two weeks off work he has thankfully recovered.

Considering we have been quarantined, what have you done to make this time most enjoyable and varied?

Living in London without a garden has felt relatively challenging during quarantine, especially with the recent, glorious weather so I have been making the most of daily exercise and taking long walks along the Thames path and exploring the two-mile radius around our home. It has certainly made me appreciate the arrival of spring and for the first time! The quarantine has also positively forced my block of flats to connect and it has been lovely to be in contact with neighbours I have seen for months and never chatted with. We now have a wonderful support network which has been invaluable to all of us!

I have been enjoying exploring virtual art collections online and have loved listening to Art Society lectures and joining the ‘Courtauld Hour’ Zoom lectures on Thursday evenings. I have been doing a daily yoga class with a friend which we do before we start work each morning and this has certainly helped to keep routine in the working week. My book club has continued online and I have had the time to read and cook more than usual.

I have of course been using Zoom and Face-time to stay in contact with family and friends – something I am so thankful for. I am particularly impressed with my 93 year old Granny who lives alone and has mastered both which has meant we can regularly ‘see’ each other which has been wonderful.

We would sincerely like to thank Lucy for speaking to the Press Office about her fascinating role at Eton, and her experience of continuing this work during the current crisis.

Interview conducted by Toby Lawson JMG

DATE POSTED: 15 May 2020
2020Parents & Pupils

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