Elle Batehup: “I helped to create a visitors’ pack for the Turner Prize”
By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Wednesday, 22 November 2023
I originally applied to Sussex to do maths and got accepted to do the course. But a couple of weeks before A-level results day, I decided it wasn’t the direction I wanted to take. I’d always loved art and history – growing up, my parents would take me and my sister to galleries and museum. But I didn’t even know a course existed that combined those subjects. I ended up emailing the university and sending a new personal statement. Luckily, I’d done German A-level and had studied German artwork of the 1920s for my coursework, so I managed to incorporate that in the statement – and got accepted to do art history. It’s the best decision I ever made.
I co-founded the Students’ Union’s Art History Society in my second year [with a friend on the course]. And then I heard about Sussex becoming the Education Partner for the Turner Prize at Towner. I thought this was so exciting for the region and a great opportunity for us to get involved.
I successfully applied for a summer internship at Towner in my second year. I started in the curatorial team as an exhibitions archive assistant, which involved sorting out the digital archive of material. Then I moved over to the learning team. I helped with Wriggle Room, which is a toddlers’ group, and Arts & Minds, which is an adult group for those with learning difficulties and other difficulties. It was amazing to work with a wide range of ages and people.
I helped to create a family trail pack for visitors to the gallery. We noticed a lot of families would come in when it was raining but wouldn’t go round the gallery because they didn’t feel it was their place, or they didn’t know enough about it. The family trail pack included sensory objects – because you often cannot touch things in galleries, a sketch book and the worksheet that I created, based on the exhibition at the time, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Towner’s permanent collection.
Just two weeks before the Turner Prize exhibition opened [in September 2023], I was asked if I would like to create another learning resource about it for families and children. I had finished my internship at the end of August, and I was going to be rehired as a gallery assistant in October. I was taken on board to do the illustrations for the worksheet, and then I ended up helping to design it as well, which was fantastic for me.
The best part for me is seeing children and often their parents and older people walking around, using the worksheets. We thought a lot about how to engage audiences with the work of this year’s four nominees.Rory Pilgrim’s work is about community and communicating, so we suggest writing to a friend or someone on another planet about the exhibition. We also brought in little facts, such as that Rory used nail polish on some of his artworks. For Barbara Walker’s, which features large portraits, we ask people to show what they would draw in that space. We did a word search for Jesse Darling’s so that they could pick out the different objects in the room, and for Ghislaine Leung, we’re asking people to think about how they experience the art through senses other than seeing. The entire page is also a colouring sheet, and we suggest it could be turned into a paper boat or used as a telescope or a listening cone.
I would love to work in learning after my degree. I have always loved teaching and explaining to others and Towner has shown me that you can do that outside of school. I am also working with Eastbourne Alive, another partnership of the Turner Prize, to supervise young people who are working as guides to other public works of art in Eastbourne, and to encourage young people in the area to get involved in the creative industries. I am from Hastings, where I still live, and so I am really interested in supporting art in the region for this age group.
This profile is part of our This Sussex Life series