Would like to meet: Anna

20 January 2016

This blog series gives you a chance to find out a little more about the people behind the desk at Wellcome Collection, the team of artists, academics, musicians, researchers, comedians and more. Among many other things, they invigilate galleries; write and provide tours and “busking” sessions; they work on exhibitions, events and special projects; and they offer information and guidance to our visitors every day. It’s all in a day’s work for our VEAs, so come and meet the team.

Daniela Vasco introduces Anna Firbank, one of our Visitor Experience Assistant (VEA) team members bringing the galleries and exhibitions to life.

Time to meet my colleague, Anna. I remember when she started in March last year and I always see her in a lively mood!

Anna is from the seaside town of Brighton, which she loves. She studied neuroscience at university, but she refuses to call herself an expert in the subject. Despite her modesty, you’ll find she is the best person in the team to discuss the complexities of the human brain. Ann Veronica Janssens’ recent ‘yellowbluepink‘, the coloured mist installation part of ‘States of Mind’, was a good opportunity for her to further explore the subject of perception and sensory experience with visitors.

Anna is especially excited about the second part of ‘States of Mind: Tracing the edges of consciousness‘. She says “consciousness is an immediately fascinating subject that gives no easy answers, so I’m looking forward to discussing it with visitors.” Organising the Perspective Tours series for States of Mind is Anna’s big project at the moment: “I am currently starting to research speakers who will have an interesting take on the gallery.” She’s especially happy if there are muffins in the office to help immerse herself in her research.

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Anna talking about perception with some sixth form students.

Anna cycles everywhere. She is a campaigner for global sustainability and when she is not working she might well be blogging about the environment. She quite likes cycling down Euston Road: “It feels very London-y with all the historical ornate buildings and tree lined avenues.” Unsurprisingly, the pollution levels are far too high for her liking!

If you want to have a look at the Anna’s current favourite object in Wellcome Collection, go to the Reading Room on Level 2 and find the piece by the artist Helen Pynor called Liquid Ground. She describes it as “an underwater photograph that depicts a floating dress and displaced internal organs on its side. Which sounds really macabre and, to be fair, it is inspired by tales of drowning in the Thames. But I find it really peaceful and the turquoise backdrop is full of life.” She also finds this piece an interesting reflection on our disassociation with our own visceral, watery interiors. “Our tendency to avoid confronting the fact that we’re not hollow souls, we’re bodies filled with… stuff.”

For the next interview, Anna is going to hear what Nelly has to say.

Daniela is a Visitor Experience Assistant at Wellcome Collection.