Volunteer Stories: Jinyu tells us why she volunteers at Two Temple Place

Jinyu Zhang started volunteering with us on our Unbound: Visionary Women Collecting Textiles exhibition. Jinyu is currently doing a masters in Museums and Galleries in Education, while volunteering at Tower of London and Two Temple Place. Jinyu is also an art teacher and is passionate about providing inspiring art learning experience for children. She formerly designed children learning programs for contemporary art exhibitions and school art projects. 

"The first time I entered Two Temple Place, I was deeply attracted to it. It was a sunny afternoon when all the sunlight came through the windows and pouring on the wooden building itself. The late Victorian architecture and the rose windows were just glorious.

Collage of Two Temple Place Interior and Exterior. Photography by Jinyu.

I was lucky to be one of the volunteer team this year, helping with the Unbound: Visionary Women collecting textiles. This exhibition is about seven women who collected textiles in their period. The collections are inclusive and diverse in history, culture, arts and social background. Each of the women has a unique taste for their vintage collections. I love the piece of letter joking about women who could read and write is not easy to say yes to a marriage; the knitting artwork that after war soldiers finished together; and the modern textile installation which breaks the limit of the definition of “textile”. Besides, I see the power, wisdom and empathy from women in arts and culture.

Installation View of Bradford Khaki Club, Altar Frontlet for Bradford Cathedral, 1918, Embroidery. © Bradford Cathedral. Photography by Richard Eaton Photography.

Here, I enjoyed the fantastic collection, helping with the shops and educational workshops. I was deeply attracted to the souvenir shop, and I encountered the lady Alison (Two Temple Place Shop Manager), who made everything happen. She told me how she designed every corner of the shop to make it like a small gallery, and how she reached out to young artists to help sell their artworks. Every piece of object is well selected and well-curated. For me, museum visiting experience always ends with the visiting of the museum shop. The shop in Two Temple Place is one of my favourite places, and I hope every visitor and customer could feel the same. Hence, every time packing up for the customers, I fold our pink paper cover with extra care and love. Seeing people who especially came here for picking up gifts for their beloved ones are also moving and lovely.

Jinyu in the shop at Two Temple Place

Besides being in the shop, I also helped several workshops with Georgia (Two Temple Place Education & Events Coordinator). There are people of all ages and ethnics backgrounds. A family spent a lovely afternoon with us making the carpet. In the beginning, the crafts were done by mostly their children. As time passed, all family members have participated in making it. The grandma finished a brilliant carpet with detailed decoration as well. To my surprise, she told me her experience of making traditional Turkish carpet when she was young. In their culture, having handmade carpet at home is a symbol of social status, since the carpets are not very affordable, but fewer people are making it nowadays. It turned out that we did have an expert in that table.

Workshop at Two Temple Place. Photography by Jinyu.

Another story I want to share is a couple who tried paper folding with us. The couple was curious at what I was folding in my hands in the first place. Then with my persistent persuasion, they sat down with us and started learning it. After finishing a orange boat, the grandpa was proud, and he said, “I could be a cool grandpa who could teach grandchildren paper folding.” The grandma was happy with her boat as well, and she took a photo of me and Georgia, saying she felt young and special with the experience. Those two moments reminds me of why I chose to study museum education for my master. It is the inclusivity and free learning in the gorgeous informal environment that make me love being in this place and organising workshops for all types of visitors.

Workshop at Two Temple Place. Photography by Jinyu. 

At the end of this blog, I would like to mention the volunteer team. I enjoyed every small talk we had in the tearoom, hearing senior people talking about their life and travelling experience. They taught me how to use the cashier, and the talks made my foreign study time more special. They are the most caring, lovely and elegant group of people I’ve met that inspired me on my life attitudes. I admire their knowledge, dedication and kindness. From them, I have a clearer mind of which kind of person I would like to be, and who I would like to be surrounded in the future.

Tea at Two Temple Place

Many thanks to Two Temple Place, for all the encounters with amazing visitors and team members here."

Left: Volunteer Handbook 
Right: Installation View of Yinka Shonibare MBE, The Wanderer 2006-07. Wooden model with 'wax' printed on cotton sails. Cartwright Hall, Bradford Galleries & Museums. Photography by Jinyu.