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Image of Shy Deep

Peter Lanyon
Shy Deep, 1959
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge


I joined the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2005 and for the first three or four months was in a state of shock. I loved it! I was being paid to look at art all day, spending up to five hours in one gallery, forced to confront, engage, argue and converse with works by some of the greatest artists who have ever lived.

Over time, however, the novelty wears off and you hope that you are put in one of your favourite galleries. The works become your colleagues, sometimes you feel affronted when asked a question while looking at a favourite painting, as if interrupted during a meaningful conversation. There are pieces from across the ages and disciplines that have become equally important to me, like interesting but different people.

As gallery attendants we are the ‘extras’, weaving our way in and out of the visitors, staff and works of art, often unnoticed. Museums are wonderful places to ‘people watch’, think, contemplate, draw and plan future works or projects. My small sketchbooks are filled with drawings, writings and cartoons (because even though museums are traditionally very serious places the comedy of the everyday is spectacular - I sometimes wish I was a writer, maybe Alan Bennett could write a play about us!).

Image of Shy Deep

Welcome to the silence,
There is only you and me -
We are all there is;
Sky deep.

Often all that is needed to appreciate or understand art is an open mind and a little effort. Similarly with people: judge someone on first impressions, clothes, haircut, etc., and you find that very often you are wrong about them.

Image of portrait of a colleague
Image of a cartoon sketch
Image of a cartoon sketch

The first piece I have put in for the Hidden Histories project is a portrait of one of my colleagues in the Education Department when we had the Big Draw at the museum a few years ago. The second and third are two cartoon sketches I made while on a long stint on galleries and the fourth piece – see below - is a small painting I made while working in the Antiquities Department during the restoration of the Egyptian galleries in 2006. As an artist, or even not as an artist, it is impossible not to be affected by spending hours in the museum on a daily basis. Being a gallery attendant can be a frustrating job. It is the people you work with and the wonderful paintings that make it easier to enjoy what is essentially a very odd, but necessary, occupation.

© Nathan Huxtable, 2008


Image of Nathan Huxtable

Nathan Huxtable

Image of Spiral

Painting in Orange and Aqua Green by Nathan Huxtable
© Nathan Huxtable

Nathan Huxtable (b. 1977)

Born in Edinburgh in 1977, Nathan Huxtable was educated at Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School and Edinburgh College of Art, where he studied Drawing and Painting. Having successfully exhibited across Scotland, he spent three months in Greece, travelled in Thailand, and then worked in Australia and New Zealand for a year. Back in Britain, Huxtable moved south, converted his garden shed into a studio, returned to pen and paint brush, and now regularly exhibits in and beyond Cambridge. Previously a gallery attendant at the Fitzwilliam Museum, he hopes to live from his art in the future.

UCP 2008


Selected Exhibitions

2000 Cuckoos Nest, Edinburgh, solo exhibition, Accident and Intention

2000 Out of the Blue, Edinburgh, group exhibition, Locate

2001 Royal Scottish Academy Open Exhibition, Edinburgh, group exhibition

2001 International Airport, Edinburgh, group exhibition, Executive Lounge Exhibition

2001 Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show, Edinburgh, group exhibition

2001 Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, joint show with Rowan Paton Risby, Place

2001 Bridge View, Aberdeen, group exhibition, Recent Graduates Exhibition

2004 Bridge View, Aberdeen, group exhibition, Life after Art College

2005 Byard Art, Cambridge, open exhibition

2006 CambridgeArtworks, Cambridge, solo exhibition, Sera Lo Mismo (It Will Be The Same)

2007 Participation in Cambridge Open Studios

2007 CambridgeArtworks, Cambridge, solo exhibition, New Paintings

2008 CambridgeArtworks, Cambridge, solo exhibition, Paintings Sold in Aid of the Mental Health Foundation

Works in Public Collections

The Belfry, Edinburgh

The Scotsman Hotel, Edinburgh

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