Manchester Art Gallery

Volunteer voices

My name is Debbie Leftwich. I trained as a scientist and spent my career in the pharmaceutical industry. I developed an interest in art which led to me completing an OU degree in the History of Art, followed by an MA at the University of Manchester. Now I only work one day a week, so I can indulge my other loves: I am a leader for Ramblers Worldwide Holidays and lead walking holidays in Europe, Nepal and India. I love pilates and yoga which I practice routinely and will be training to qualify as a pilates teacher next year.

I am a volunteer guide, giving guiding tours of the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. I love absolutely everything about the role; we have a wonderful gallery at Manchester Art Gallery, with a fascinating permanent collection of paintings, sculptures and ceramics, and we are also lucky enough to have a varied and extensive programme of temporary exhibitions.

Leading tours encourages me to constantly research the art we have on display, and I love stimulating visitors’ interest in art and adding to the experience and enjoyment they gain when visiting the gallery. It’s lovely to meet so many different people who visit the gallery and hear about the works they especially like, and sometimes learn some interesting facts about the work we have on display. We also have a really lovely group of guides who are so enthusiastic about Manchester Art Gallery, and like me, love doing tours for the public. We are extremely well supported by gallery staff who provide fascinating training sessions for us and we organise our own talks and social get-togethers.

I especially love the Craft and Design room. It has recently been refurbished and has a very interesting history as a theatre in the gentleman’s club which the building once functioned as. The architecture and design of the room is beautiful, and celebrates Manchester’s history. The current display of contemporary  Japanese design is fascinating as it showcases fashion, ceramics, furniture as well as home-furnishings. The pieces reveal aspects of Japanese Buddhist culture and “wabi sabi”; celebration of the imperfect and unfurnished.

Debbie Leftwich, Volunteer guide.



If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer visit our website and fill in the form. We’ll get into touch when the next opportunity comes up.

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