Our new website and online catalogue launches today!

Today we’re thrilled to announce the launch of a new website and online catalogue for our holdings.

This is an exciting step for the Archives and Collections. By making our collections more accessible online, we hope to promote our magnificent holdings and facilitate the use of our archives and museum objects by both GSA staff and students as well as external users for the purposes of learning, teaching and research. This project has been kindly supported by Museums Galleries Scotland.

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Our main aim has been to make the catalogue as user-friendly as possible. We understand that academic users generally require detailed descriptions and information on, for example, how access to originals, copies and copyright,and in that sense the catalogue is still very traditional. However we are also aware that creative practitioners, who make up a significant proportion of our users, really appreciate the ability to browse and quite often rely on serendipity to find inspiration for their work, therefore, wherever possible, we have tried to include images alongside records, opening up a treasure trove of beautiful items to the public.

To browse images of our holdings, simply click on one of the 8 categories on our homepage.

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Alternatively you can also search by keyword on our catalogue.

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Our new website also includes user case studies and new subject-based archive resource guides, as well as a brand new format for our blog, so please remember to hop on over to our new blog and subscribe for updates. This current blog will disappear shortly.

Textiles    Vis Comm

As a result of the fire which occurred in the Mackintosh Building earlier this year, physical access to our collections is limited and we are sadly currently unable to welcome researchers to our searchroom, so providing virtual access to our collections has become even more vital at this time.

We’ll keep you updated on our progress and will be posting all week about the features of the website and online catalogue, so stay tuned. Happy browsing!

An Update on the Archives and Collections

The Mackintosh BuildingSix months on from the Mackintosh Building fire, The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections team are now able to provide more detailed information about how this event has affected the School’s extensive archives and collections.

Our holdings, which comprise a wide range of material from the GSA’s institutional archive, artworks and architectural drawings, textiles, plasters casts, photographs and furniture, did suffer some loss and damage as previously reported. However since the 23rd May we have worked to assess and stabilise the collections, put in place conservation plans, and started our thinking for the collections’ future, securing its role as a key learning and research resource for the GSA, academics worldwide and the wider public.

We can confirm that the majority of our paper archives and artworks on paper, including 100 works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, were unharmed by the fire. A small percentage of the paper archives suffered water damage, but these items have either been air dried or frozen and are now stabilised.

Our textile collections suffered some water damage. However, items have now been air dried, stabilised and conservation work, where appropriate, will commence in due course.

The GSA’s large collection of plaster casts has also survived, although many pieces have suffered smoke and water damage. Plans are now being developed to conserve and restore these pieces.

Items from our Mackintosh furniture collection which were in use in the Mackintosh Library or held in the store above this space were either destroyed or very badly damaged by the fire. Fragments of furniture and fittings are already being recovered from the Mackintosh Library as part of the forensic archaeology work currently underway (click here to watch a clip of GSA’s Academic Liaison Librarian Duncan Chappell talk about this). Many of our most important pieces were on display in the Furniture Gallery and Mackintosh Room in the east wing of the building and were therefore unaffected by the fire. In the early part of 2015 some of these pieces will be brought out of storage and returned to public view. We’ll have more details about this in the new year.

Almost all the oil paintings on canvas in the School’s collection were stored above the Library and were therefore also sadly destroyed.

All of the surviving material is now stable and secure. It will be reviewed by expert conservators as part of a recovery programme which will take place over the next three years.

Tonight! In Conversation: Lucy Reynolds & Sarah Neely on ‘A Feminist Chorus’

MAPLUCY REYNOLDS: A FEMINIST CHORUS, APRIL—NOVEMBER 2014
A FEMINIST CHORUS FILM INSTALLATION, 7 NOV—7 DEC, PLATFORM, GLASGOW
TALK: SARAH NEELY + LUCY REYNOLDS, TUE 25 NOV, 6—7.30PM, GLASGOW WOMEN’S LIBRARY

Find out more about Lucy’s use of Glasgow School of Art’s archives on our previous post

Calling all Russian speakers!

The catalogue for the Mackintosh exhibition, The Kremlin Museum

The catalogue for the Mackintosh exhibition, The Kremlin Museum

Glasgow School of Art’s curator Peter Trowles, or Питер Троулес, as he is known in Russian, has recently returned from a trip to Moscow where he gave a lecture on the architecture of Mackintosh’s masterpiece The Glasgow School of Art, as part of an international Mackintosh exhibition at The Kremlin Museum. Crucially, this was first time Mackintosh’s work has been seen in Moscow since 1903. The exhibition included works loaned from around the world, including many from Glasgow Museums. Sadly as a result of the fire that occurred in the Mackintosh Building earlier this year we were no longer able to loan works to this exhibition as planned, however Peter was still able to visit the exhibition, which has also seen the publication of a beautiful catalogue (see above) – unfortunately only available in Russian – and to give his lecture as part of a series of talks by British Mackintosh experts.

Glasgow School of Art's Curator Peter Trowles prepares for his Russian screen debut

Glasgow School of Art’s Curator Peter Trowles prepares for his Russian screen debut

During his time in Moscow, in a surreal twist to proceedings Peter appeared on the Russian equivalent of Newsnight to speak about the School’s Mackintosh collection and the relationship between Mackintosh and the city of Glasgow. You can watch a video of Peter’s debut on Russian television here – though sadly it’s been dubbed so will only make sense to those of you who can speak Russian! We’re sure however that what Peter had to say was very interesting…

You can find out more about the exhibition, which ran from 5th Sep 2014-9th Nov 2014, here.

And Now, The BBC Genome Project

Issue from 1935: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Project Website

Issue from 1935: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Website

Recently the BBC have launched an exciting online project that catalogues the listings information printed in the BBC Radio Times from 1923 to 2009. Created by the BBC Archive Development in conjunction with BBC Research and Development, each page of the Radio Times since 1923 have been scanned and processed through optical character recognition systematically  to extract information – such as the title, time of showing, synopsis, contributors and so on – automatically.

Issue from 1943: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Project Website

Issue from 1943: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Website

Beginning in November 1922 the British Broadcasting Company published its first Radio Times on the 28th September 1923 after  the Newspaper Publisher’s Associated refused to print the BBC programme details without payment for the advertising. Since then, the Radio Times has continually published the BBC listings missing only 8 issues in its lifetime. Documenting the changes in programming, and the shifting dynamic between TV and radio this resource provides a useful starting point to investigate the role of media and the history of a publication so widely used and known in Britain.

Issue from 1968: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Project Website

Issue from 1968: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Website

As optical character recognition can only accomplish so much the project is giving users the opportunity to edit, correct and add to existing entries with information that may not have been included in the listing generally (for example, if a programme was cancelled or relpaced) in order to create a far more comprehensive and contextualised record.

Issue from 1994: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Project Website

Issue from 1994: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Website

Interestingly the addition of information by external users has become a popular method of gathering data that may simply not be held within the record, and of highlighting resources in different ways to make them more accessible to researchers. This can be seen in the recent project by the National Archives, Operation War Diarythat was launched this January to mark the centenary of the First World War (Operation War Diary – you archive needs you!), a project that encourages users to tag the data they discover within the entries, such as names, dates and places in order to make it easier for subsequent users to find.

Issue from 2007: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Website

Issue from 2007: Image courtesy of the BBC Genome Website

Find the BBC Genome project here and see if you recognise any of these issues!

The Mackintosh Library

The Mackintosh Library

The Mackintosh Library

Since the recent fire in the Mackintosh Building and the sad destruction of the Library there has been much discussion on how this space is going to be recreated. There has recently been a debate at Glasgow Queen’s Cross Church around whether this space should be ‘reinvented or restored’ and the symposium in Venice this Saturday will kick off the discussion on a international scale. However, locally what should or should not been done with the Mackintosh Library space is also being contemplated, with our own Interior Design course students undertaking the task of preparing a proposal for what they would do with the Library space if they had the option.

As part of the background to this project the Mackintosh Curator and Archive Assistant from the GSA Archives and Collections Centre gave a talk to the students explaining the role of the archives in the recovery process of the Mackintosh Building, and some of the issues that will face the Mackintosh Library restoration. These issues include questions around adaptations that were made to the Library during its lifetime to make it more functional, including the addition of a staircase and the use of Mackintosh Tearoom chairs for the last 50 years, rather than those originally designed for the Library. If the Library is to be restored should it be taken back to the way it was when it originally opened? Or to how it was just before the fire? Into this mix there has to be some consider of the role of people’s memory in the space’s reconstruction. Many past and current students have personal recollections of the Library and what it meant to them, should these memories be disregarded if the space is going to be re-invented? Or should they be the top priority, even above the concerns of current students, some of who will never have seen the library in its original form? The talk regarding these issues, and some of the questions raised by students can be listened to here.

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

The manner in which the library has adapted to the needs of students and staff in order to remain functional makes the idea of an ‘authentic’ recreation malleable. This idea of what is ‘authentic’ or not, and why it matters, was discussed in a talk by the school’s Mr Nicholas Oddy. An interesting lecture that can be heard here.

After presenting an initial proposal, the interior design students showed their final designs alongside their notes last Friday with some very interesting results.

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

While it is unlikely that we will know exactly what is happening with the Mackintosh Library for some time, it will hopefully continue to inspire conversations between students and staff around what could be done with this opportunity.

Something Old, Something New

As you may have noticed from our recent posts, we have been looking at how archives can inform future decisions and inspire new creations. To join the recent opening of the Anchor Line Restaurant that took inspiration from the University of Glasgow’s Anchor Line Ltd company archive, the BBC project Artist and Archive: Artists Moving Image at the BBC has recently concluded and the artist’s pieces are now online!

Left to right: Stephen Sutcliffe, Kathryn Elkin, Torsten Lauschmann, Luke Fowler, Kate Davis,and Alia Syed  Image courtesy of the BBC

Left to right: Stephen Sutcliffe, Kathryn Elkin, Torsten Lauschmann, Luke Fowler, Kate Davis,and Alia Syed
Image courtesy of the BBC

As part of this project (see our past post for the project’s original details) the six artists chosen have worked over the course of 6 months to create new moving-image artworks that take footage and inspiration from the BBC’s large film archive. All of these films can now be watched on the BBC’s website here.

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The Anchor Line Ltd

The recent opening of the Anchor Line Restaurant at 12-16 Vincent Place is a wonderful example of current organisations utilising the unique materials of an archive to inform the creation of something new. Taking inspiration from the archive of the Anchor Line Ltd held by the University of Glasgow, the Di Maggio group has opened a restaurant that reflects the history of this company and the building.

University of Glasgow Library

In August, Archive Services were contacted by the Di Maggio’s Group who were restoring the Anchor Building at 12-14 St Vincent Street in Glasgow. The Anchor Building was designed by James Miller and had been built in 1905-07 as offices for the Anchor Line Ltd, a shipping company.

Brochure for the Anchor Building Brochure for the Anchor Building, c.1908 (Ref: UGD255/1/38/1/5)

The Anchor Line Ltd had its beginnings in 1838 when two brothers, Nicol and Robert Handyside, established themselves in Glasgow, Scotland, as shipbrokers and merchants. In 1856 it ran its first transatlantic crossing and by the twentieth century it ran regular transatlantic crossings, Mediterranean cruises and passenger sailings to India and Pakistan. The company had distinctive Scottish roots and was famous for its sleek ships and for the comfort it offered its travellers at a very affordable cost.

At Archive Services we hold the business records for the Anchor Line Ltd which include series of records such as advertising…

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Time for some Razzle Dazzle!

Used extensively in World War I, Dazzle camouflage was a unique creation that saw the marrying of art with military strategy. At the outbreak of World War I the British Navy was having trouble hiding its ships from German U-boats because there was no sure way to conceal ships on the open seas. Due to constantly changing weather it was impossible to produce a camouflage that would consistently hide navies from the enemy sights. While painting ships grey did reduce visibility, ships would still leave a wake as they travelled and a revealing trail of smoke that resulted in British ships being sunk by the German Navy in devastating numbers.

To counter the extreme exposure and destruction that the British Navy was being subjected to, Dazzle Camouflage was created. Popular belief has Norman Wilkinson – an artist in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve – creating Dazzle Camouflage in 1917, however there is a potential point of contest, with others recognising John Graham Kerr as pushing this idea forward three years earlier. On the 24th September 1914 after the destruction of several British ships in only one day, Kerr wrote to Winston Churchill outlining some ideas on how to camouflage large ships, including a form of paint application that was similar to the dazzle camouflage realised by Wilkinson. In this letter Kerr describes the following method of camouflage:

“It is essential to break up the regularity of the outline and this can easily be affected by strongly contesting shades. The same applies to the surface generally, a continuous uniform shade renders conspicuous, this can be countered by     breaking up the surface by violently contrasting pigments. A giraffe, or zebra, or jaguar looks extraordinarily conspicuous in a museum, but in nature when not moving, is wonderfully difficult to pick up. The same principle should be made use of in painting ships”.

This idea was well received by Churchill and passed to naval officers, however it was up to individual officer whether or not this principle was acted upon. In 1917 Wilkinson once again revisited the notion of disruptive colouring, and a much more organised and coherent effort was implemented across the navy to make use of, what is now known as, Dazzle Camouflage.

The purpose of this camouflage was not to hide the ship, but rather to utilise a form of obliterative colouring that confused and distorted its shape. This would mean that when German attackers sighted British ships in Dazzle Camouflage they would find it difficult to identify its type, size, speed and direction of travel, making it extremely difficult to target.

To commemorate this artist creation, as part of the ongoing events around the centenary of World War I the arts organisation, 1418 Now has commissioned the artists Tobias Rehberger and Carlos Cruz-Diez to recreate Dazzle camouflage in both London and Liverpool on the HMS President and the Edmund Gardner.

Image courtesy of 1418 Now: Dazzle Ships. Liverpool, Carlos Cruz-Diez, 2014. Image credit - Helen Hunt

Image courtesy of 1418 Now: Dazzle Ships. Tobias Rehberger, 2014. Image credit – Stephen White

 

Image courtesy of 1418 Now: Dazzle Ships. Dazzle Ship Liverpool, Carlos Cruz-Diez, 2014. Image credit - Helen Hunt

Image courtesy of 1418 Now: Dazzle Ships. Liverpool, Carlos Cruz-Diez, 2014. Image credit – Helen Hunt

 

You can see a time-lapse video of these ships being painted here.

As to the Glasgow School of Art’s role in camouflage, during World War I many students were appointed roles where their artistic talents were utilised in the creation and execution of different forms of camouflage to protect their fellow soldiers from enemy fire.

Resources used in this post, and interesting articles regarding Dazzle camouflage not already mentioned are:

Dazzle Camouflage in Space! Image courtesy of Jedi Council Forums

 

Residency at the UCA Animation Archive – Day 1

An interesting look into Sonia Friel’s residency at the UCA Animation Archive, where Sonia is using the archive to investigate artists and animators to help inform her PhD.

UCA Archives

Hello all!  My name’s Sonia Friel and I’m a researcher based at Norwich University of the Arts. For the whole of this week, I’m going to be based in the Animation Archive at UCA, working with Rebekah Taylor.  Each day I’m running workshops from the Animation Archives on topics that are close to my heart, and closely related to the PhD I’m working towards, which focuses on the artists and animators Jan Švankmajer and the Quay brothers (my areas of interest are art history – especially international Surrealism – and animation).  For more information, see here, and for a timetable, please see here (although please note that the film screening, of Švankmajer’s latest film Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010) is now going to take place on Wednesday at 6pm, in the Glasshouse.  It’s free, and all are welcome).

Each day I’m going to writing a short blog post to document…

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