Five Minutes With... / UQ Community

When art meets the law: How our student volunteer found her niche

UQ Arts/Laws student Olivia Back has volunteered with UQ Art Museum since 2014. Working closely with UQ Art Museum’s Senior Registrar Kath Kerswell, Olivia has managed to find a place in the Art Museum where her passion for art and the law meet.

Senior Registrar Kath Kerswell with Intern Olivia Black Photo: Sam Scoufos

Senior Registrar Kath Kerswell with Intern Olivia Black
Photo: Sam Scoufos

What have you been working on as a UQ Art Museum volunteer?
For the most part and because of my interest in mixing law and arts, I’ve been assisting with reproduction agreements for the artworks acquired by UQ Art Museum. However, over time I’ve been able to experience different aspects of the Art Museum, like the process of condition-reporting artworks, or helping install the pieces for Isabella Baker’s recent exhibition, Just Kids. Even though I have my main project, I feel lucky to be able to assist in other aspects of UQ Art Museum work and gain experiences that are not possible in the classroom.

What is it about the combination of art and law that interests you the most?
I find copyright and intellectual property law the most fascinating, and volunteering at UQ Art Museum has reinforced that it’s what I want to do as a career. The crossover between law and art is becoming increasingly important as there are so many complex legal issues involving contracts, copyright and intellectual property. Being able to experience some of these issues and to see what I’ve learnt in the classroom being applied in real-life is surreal.

What is the most satisfying part about volunteering at the UQ Art Museum?
I love the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing the difficult tasks. It’s such a satisfying feeling when you obtain the right to reproduce an artwork online, or to hang it in an exhibition. It’s my dream to work on loan artworks from overseas for Australian exhibitions.

What’s been your volunteering highlight at UQ Art Museum?
It’s so hard to think of just one! As interns, we’re extended a great deal of trust in handling work from the UQ Art Collection, which provides great, practical experience. I also love being able to see the exhibitions come to life, and knowing that I’ve played a small part of that process is the best feeling.

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