The Volunteers

Forty Hall and Estate and Forty Hall Farm are neighbours. It’s a working farm linked to Capel Manor College as a training resource. It’s a historic house, open to the public. It’s a public park with a well-kept walled garden and rolling meadows leading down to a stream, Turkey Brook. There’s a vineyard and an orchard in the farm complex. Everything is supported by volunteers — the house, the gardens, the vineyard and the orchard. When you pass through the front door of Forty Hall you’re greeted by a volunteer. They have a copy of the Magpie press release and the article from the Enfield Gazette in case anyone asks for it, or in case they’re asked to explain an installation which is deliberately ambiguous. If you find something desirable in the shop, at the far end of the Table installation in the Long Gallery, the chances are that you’ll be served by a volunteer.

As a former paid invigilator at the Acme Gallery I understand the duties and the potential invisibility of the role. To the credit of all the paid workers here the volunteers feel appreciated, motivated and some part of the team. They are also a force in their own right, as Sunday or Friday regulars, as part of a group that outnumbers the paid staff by three to one.

At first I was slightly apprehensive of what they’d make of me and my artwork, but I’ve come to regard them as a phenomenon, a gentle force of beneficence and generosity who love the building. They give their time. In three hour slots. They take a pride in the numbers of visitors counted in their slot. ‘We had 48 in this morning and look at the weather’.

 

Forty Hall volunteers

Forty Hall volunteers

Vineyard volunteers

Vineyard volunteers

 

 

 

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