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Five minutes with: David Bell

11 April 2024

3 mins

What’s your job title and how long have you been at Loughborough?

I’m the Curator for the Arts Collection and Music Programme. I’ve been here 6.5 years but my role has changed a lot in that time.

Tell us what a typical day in your job looks like?

I’ve read a few of these features and it seems everyone denies having a ‘typical day’. And who I am to buck the trend? A given day could involve researching the best kind of wax to use on one of our bronze sculptures, helping a student music society find a rehearsal space, working with Estates colleagues to hang artworks, and wondering if I’ll ever find time to tidy the art store. The next might involve planning a new round of music tuition for students and staff, updating information about our art collection on, helping collate a ‘zine featuring creative writing responses to our sculpture collection, and wondering if I’ll ever find time to tidy the art store.

What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?

Last year’s Sculpture Week was our first, and was a real highlight for me. I’ve really enjoyed planning this year’s too, which will feature the inauguration of a new work, produced by three Loughborough students! Our collection contains works of international significance, and can be used to tell stories about the changing functions of public art and the institution’s history. I love sharing these, but also programming events to explore the ‘unofficial’ histories of our sculptures: what associations they spark (“a giant tap”, “sheets of falling paper”, “the relic of an ancient civilisation”); how they help people orient themselves on campus; or how one has been adopted as a mascot for a nearby student hall, with an annual party thrown in its honour. Public sculpture is just that – public, and it comes to life when its public is active in determining its meaning.

Find out more about Sculpture Week.

What is your proudest moment at Loughborough?

We wouldn’t be able to hold Sculpture Week if our sculptures weren’t worth experiencing and, to that end, I’m most proud of establishing an ongoing programme of conservation and restoration, which will help ensure this huge asset can be enjoyed by the University and its public for years to come. Keep an eye out as you travel around campus and you might notice a sculpture that looks better than it had previously, or even see a conservator applying that wax I’d so assiduously researched.

Tell us something you do outside of work that we might not know about?

My partner just enrolled me in an improv comedy class for my birthday. I’ve told absolutely nobody about this and intend on keeping it that way, so if anyone asks about it I’ll know they’ve been reading this feature. (I offer no assurances regarding the quality of any future wisecracks.)

What is your favourite quote?

I was on holiday in Lyon when my love of 1* restaurant reviews reached new heights with a coruscating takedown of a very expensive restaurant. ‘The waitress was friendly’, it said, ‘like a prison door.’ Marvellous.

If you would like to feature in ‘5 Minutes With’, or you work with someone who you think would be great to include, please email Soph Dinnie at

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