During National Volunteers' Week 2021, Art UK is celebrating the contributions made by our sculpture project volunteers. During the first week of June, we will showcase a different volunteer story each day that details why and how they decided to participate.

Please introduce yourself

Photography is my day job. It is an art form I am passionate about. I spend my days taking and digitally editing the photographs I capture with the aim of transforming them into artistic pictures of landscapes, seascapes, oddities, curios, people, and artefacts.

Maarten Roes Francken

Maarten Roes Francken

Describe your role in the Art UK sculpture project

My role in the Art UK sculpture project is that of a volunteer photographer. My brief is to capture and make high-quality photographs of a variety of different forms of sculpture on public display.

Why did you apply to volunteer?

I have a long-held appreciation and understanding of the visual arts. Sculpture, however, is one branch of the arts which I knew little about. Therefore, when the Royal Photographic Society – of which I am a member – broadcast an appeal among its members on behalf of Art UK for volunteer photographers, I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to learn about and understand this art form.

What did you enjoy most within your role?

The opening of my eyes to see properly the creativity and skill of those fine artists who have crafted their artistic vision in a variety of materials from stone, wood, marble, glass, metal, etc., to form a wonderful three-dimension object – a thing of beauty.

Leaping Salmon

Leaping Salmon 1997

Walenty Pytel (b.1941)

Wye Street, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire

Was there anything you found particularly challenging? 

Being able to take properly exposed photographs of sculptural objects in low-light internal environments.

Did you develop any new skills?

After much learning and practice, I am now able to achieve properly exposed photographs of sculptural objects in poor-light internal environments with the aid of a few genuine low-light photographic techniques and work-around tricks.

Can you share a favourite memory of your time volunteering?

Shortly after arriving in a village churchyard in Herefordshire to photograph a flock of three sheep sculpted in metal, two policemen turned up with a view to arresting me after a villager, or villagers (poor lambs), had phoned the cops to report their suspicion that my photographing the objects was the precursor to me stealing them. I later learned that the sheep had been stolen twice before.

Maarten Roes Francken, Art UK volunteer

Art UK thanks each and every volunteer that contributed their time to capturing an incredible record of public sculpture in the UK.

More photographs by sculpture project volunteers can be viewed in a Curation: Art UK Volunteer Photographers' Gallery