Catherine Bertola at Ripon Museums


Project Info


  • Catherine Bertola

Art Forms

  • Sculptural Installation
  • Performance and Photography


  • Ripon Museums
  • Arts&Heritage
  • Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund

Project Outline

All in a Day’s Work is part of the Meeting Point programme.

All in a Day’s Work, was a new commission made by artist Catherine Bertola in response the history and architecture of the Workhouse Museum, Ripon. Drawing on the history of still life and tableaux, the work seeks to invoke a sense of the endless physical hardship endured by the inmates, and the segregation they experienced within the Workhouse.

The work featured a series of sculptural installations located within three of the sleeping cells in the old Casual Ward. The cells were filled with large quantities of materials associated with different forms of labour once undertaken by the inmates of the Workhouse: stone breaking, wood chopping and laundry. Inside the door of each room stands a solitary stool, as if waiting for another occupant to sit and begin work.

Over the course of six days in August 2016 the static installations were activated by a series of performances, in which people dressed in 19th Century workhouse uniforms sat alone in the cells, silently carrying out the task at hand. A series of photographs documenting these performances have been left on permanent display as a reminder of what the reality of poverty once meant.


  • To find a new and creative way to tell the story of the Workhouse of the life of the people who lived there
  • To engage Museum volunteers in the process
  • To increase visitor numbers to the Ripon Museums by offering a high quality experience
  • To engage in an action-learning project that will develop Ripon Museums cultural offer by commissioning contemporary artists


Arts&Heritage supported the nine museums participating in Meeting Point throughout the process, sharing knowledge of presenting contemporary art projects and commissions in non-traditional art spaces.

A networking event between the participating museums and 40 artists from across the UK took place at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and visits to artists’ studios were arranged. Museum teams also met with peers at other properties to learn how they successfully delivered contemporary art projects at their museums and heritage sites.

All museums developed their own Artist’s Brief. Following the networking event artists were invited to send in an expression of interest to museums that interested therm.

Three artists were shortlisted by each museum to draw up a more detailed proposal and were paid £500 each.

The Artist

Catherine Bertola is a Newcastle based artist whose work involves drawings, objects and installations that respond directly to a place and its history. Focusing on the architecture and history of the Workhouse Bertola has drawn on materials and performance to evoke a sense of what life would have been like for people confined within the interior of the Workhouse.

Catherine Bertola (b. 1976, Rugby) studied at Newcastle University and currently lives and works in Gateshead. She has worked on a number of temporary and permanent commissions including; V&A (London, UK), National Museum Wales (Cardiff, UK), Government Art Collection (UK), The National Trust and National Trust for Scotland (UK), Vital Arts (London, UK), Leeds City Art Gallery Collection (Leeds, UK) and Locus+ (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK). She has work in several public and private collections and is represented by Workplace Gallery, Gateshead and M+R Fricke, Berlin.