Your opportunity to Meet the Archivists

meet the archivistsMeet the Archivists: Unlocking the research potential of business archives for artists, architects and designers

The Business Archives Council of Scotland is holding its 2nd Meet the Archivists workshop on Friday 20th September at the Edinburgh College of Art.

This year the focus is on creative and design use of business archives. So this event is aimed at college of art students, architectural and design students but all students are welcome to attend.

The aim of this event is to bring together archivists, academics and this year artists to discuss and explore with students how business archive collections can be used for their research. Glasgow School of Art’s Archivist Susannah Waters will be discussing Arts organisations’ archives in Glasgow with a focus on Glasgow School of Art and the Centre for Contemporary Arts.

The programme will feature talks from archivists and artists on the projects inspired by or that have made use of archive collections:

  • Cabinets, drawers and dark places – the artist’s perfect resource – Bartholomew Archive, National Library of Scotland
  • The Illustrated Archive – The John Gray Centre
  • The Sir Basil Spence Archive – Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
  • Stoddard-Templeton Archive: inspiring new works – University of Glasgow
  • Heriot-Watt Textile Archive – Heriot-Watt University
  • Arts organisations’ archives in Glasgow: Glasgow School of Art and the Centre for Contemporary Arts – Glasgow School of Art
  • Drawing, Painting, Designing and Creating the Story: Research and Inspiration in the Art College Archive – Edinburgh College of Art

There will also be an discussion panel in the afternoon and over lunchtime an opportunity to meet and chat with archivists about their collections, plus practical demonstrations of how to find business archive collections online. A series of animation shorts inspired by the Edinburgh College of Art Archive will be screened over lunch.

A full detailed programme is available on the Scottish Council of Archives website

To register for this free event, please visit the following link:


The James Guthrie Orchar print collection

The collection of James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1898), Dundee industrialist and inventor, consists of over 400 works (paintings and drawings) held by The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum since 1987. It is an extremely rare collection in that it remains as a collection, evidence of one man’s personal taste. The collection has recently been digitized and is now available to search and browse online. The website also includes an interesting section about the techniques involved in creating prints.

portrait by John Pettie, James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1898), Provost of Broughty Ferry (1886-1898), 1884. Oil on canvas, 107.7 x 86.4 cm. Dundee Art Galleries and Museums.

Portrait by John Pettie, James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1898), Provost of Broughty Ferry (1886-1898), 1884. Oil on canvas, 107.7 x 86.4 cm. Dundee Art Galleries and Museums.

Orchar was an important patron of the Arts and fostered a number of personal relationships with the artists whose work he collected. The value of Orchar’s art collection lies in its local and national significance. It is a rare existing example of the interests of a prominent late Victorian collector and subsequently provides in microcosm a considerable illustration of the tastes and fashions of the period and the online catalogue of images is a wonderful resource for inspiration.

The Fiddler (Becquet), by James Whistler, 1859.

The Fiddler (Becquet), by James McNeill Whistler, 1859. Dundee Art Galleries and Museums.

Whilst the majority of oils in Orchar’s Collection are by Scottish artists, Orchar favoured English and Continental artists for his prints collection, including works by Sir Hubert Herkomer, James Clarke Hook, Josef Israëls and Samuel Palmer. By far the largest selections in his collection are the eighteen by Sir Francis Seymour Haden and the thirty-six by James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

The project was a collaboration between the University of St Andrews’ School of Art History and The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museums and was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Engagement Fund.

For more information visit the Orchar Print Collection website.

New acquisition: Robert Brydall sketchbook

Detail of a landscape from Robert Brydall's sketchbook, 1873

Detail of a landscape from Robert Brydall’s sketchbook, 1873

Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections has recently acquired a sketchbook by Robert Brydall, a student and tutor at the School in the mid-late 19th century. The sketchbook is dated 1873, and contains landscape sketches completed during travels around Scotland. This new acquisition is a very welcome addition to our holdings, which until now featured very few examples from this early period of the School’s history.

Robert Brydall's sketchbook, 1873. The unassuming cover belies the charming landscape sketches within

Robert Brydall’s sketchbook, 1873. The unassuming cover belies the charming landscape sketches within

Robert Brydall

Robert Brydall

Robert Brydall (10th May 1839-6th April 1907), was a Glasgow-born painter, who worked predominantly as a lithographer and engraver, and taught for many years at Glasgow School of Art, where his students included David Murray, John Lavery, James Paterson and E. A. Walton. In 1889 he published “History of Art in Scotland,” at that time the only book dealing with the subject. It was characterised by the London Quarterly Review as “one of the best and most interesting histories of art ever written.”

The Archives and Collections Centre holds records which show that Robert Brydall was a staff member at the School from 1863-1881, during this time he held the following positions: Pupil teacher, Glasgow Government School of Art – 1863; 3rd Master, Glasgow Government School of Art – 1863-1877; and 2nd Master, Glasgow Government School of Art – 1877-1881. There are also a few letters addressed to Robert Brydall in the late 1800s Secretary & Treasurer’s correspondence.

Brydall left GSA to set up a private art school, the St George’s Art School, in Newton Terrace in 1881. It is unclear when the School ceased operating, but it was still being run by him in 1896.

He was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Glasgow Institute (1862-1907), and also showed work at the Royal Scottish Academy (1862-1887), as well as the Royal Academy (1906) and the RSW. The subjects of Brydall’s exhibited works included historical genres, landscape, and latterly views of Venice. He also showed a number of fairy subjects, including The Elf Dance (GI, 1871) and Fairy Treasure, (RSA, 1874) as well as works inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’, such as Bottom, the Weaver (GI, 1871), Titania Enamoured (GI, 1876), and Oberon & Titania (GI, 1894).

Recent GSA graduate Vanessa Larsen's work will feature alongside items from the Archives and Collections

Recent GSA graduate Vanessa Larsen’s work will feature alongside items from the Archives and Collections

This very recent acquisition is actually to form part of a forthcoming exhibition at the Fleming Collection in London. Learning to Draw/Drawing to Learn: Glasgow School of Art, which runs from 3 September – 9 October 2013, is a reassessment of the practice of drawing by Glasgow School of Art students and staff, past and present, selected by Head of the School of Fine Art, Professor Roger Wilson and Stuart Mackenzie, Senior Lecturer in Painting and Printmaking. As well as the Robert Brydall sketchbook, the exhibition will also feature other works from our holdings, such as sketches by the architect Fred Selby, and an awe-inspiring life drawing by GSA student William Somerville Shanks from around 1910.

For more information check the Fleming Collection website.

The Edwin Morgan Papers: Remembering Joan Eardley

Lovely blog about the late Edwin Morgan’s connection with GSA alumnus Joan Eardley, commemorating 50 years since her death.

University of Glasgow Library

Today is the 50th anniversary of Joan Eardley’s death in 1963 and to commemorate Eardley we would like to share some gems from The Papers of Edwin Morgan (1920-2010) that we have identified during the cataloguing of MS Morgan.

Joan Eardley’s painting Sweet Shop, Rotten Row c1961 [GLAHA 51762] was presented to the Hunterian Art Gallery by Edwin Morgan in 2004, along with the rest of his substantial art collection, which included 3 other paintings by Eardley.  The Hunterian Art Gallery’s catalogue notes:

Eardley’s use of broken colour, collage and stencilled letters was stimulated by what she saw around her.  In Sweet Shop, Rotten Row, the object of her fascination was a frequently re-painted shop sign, about which she said, ‘The word “Confectioner” was repeated about three times, with differtent bits of it showing through the latest layer.  Below that was the yellow of the previous one, below that…

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Archive as art: The Attic Archive

The Attic Archive was a small independent archive with its origins in the 1970s. Since then it has collected original artworks, mail art, correspondence, video and audio cassettes, photographs, books, magazines, catalogues, postcards, posters, packaging and ephemera.

DATA sheet for 31.10.80

DATA sheet for 31.10.80. Credit: The Attic Archive

Since 1978 there have been three central projects, each with its own archive:

  • DATA (Daily Action TIme Archive) from 1980-1989
  • Marshall Anderson, 1990-1999
  • Peter Haining 2000-2009

Peter Haining is the archive’s curator, and also the latest incarnation of the artist whose work forms the basis for the archive. Indeed the artist formerly known as Pete Horobin, Marshall Anderson and Peter Haining continues his 10-yearly changes of identity and is now called Aitch, operating as Ae Phor based in Law’s Close, Kirkcaldy.

The Attic itself was sold last year, Its many varied parts are now relocated in numerous museums and collections as follows –
The Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh
The Museum of Communications, Burntisland, Fife
Kirkcaldy Museum & Art Gallery, Fife
McManus Museum & Art Gallery, Dundee
Central Library, Dundee
Dundee University Archives
Artpool, Budapest
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
The National Irish Visual Art Library, Dublin

Though no longer in existence, various projects continue to take place, ensuring The Attic Archive’s activities are documented as a digital archive and that the archive as art form is ongoing.


Hand, Heart & Soul – The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland

51RLW5RRIaL._SX385_Hand, Heart and Soul: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland, an exhibition at City Art Centre, Edinburgh (June to September 2007), which travelled to  Millennium Galleries, Sheffield (October to January 2008) and finally to Aberdeen Art Gallery (June to August 2008), looked at Arts and Crafts practice across Scotland between 1880 and 1939. More than 300 objects in a wide variety of media – from jewellery to furniture, ceramics and glass, textiles to architectural designs, and including a number of items from Glasgow School of Art’s archives and collections – were assembled from public and private collections. Some items were familiar, many others (and their designers) were new discoveries. Arranged through six thematic sections, the show presented fascinating facets of the movement from the design or decoration of buildings to studio crafts. Together they provided fresh insight into life and identity a century ago.

The story of the Arts and Crafts movement in Scotland is one of friendships, families and networks of art workers, architects and designer-craftsmen and women, all committed to the restoration of beauty to everyday life in the industrial age. At heart it was a middle-class city movement with its base in art schools and shared exhibitions. Arts and Crafts was an ideology which embraced modernity and progress but also the romance of the past. Part of the British movement, Scottish Arts and Crafts reflected and encouraged national dreams.

The exhibition curator, Dr Elizabeth Cumming, has kindly provided the exhibition guide and texts of the exhibit labels. These are now available on The Arts and Crafts Movement in Surrey website. The book Hand, Heart and Soul: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland by Elizabeth Cumming has been recently reissued and is available to purchase from  Amazon.

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We’d also like to know your views on our blog. What do you want to see more of? More case studies about artists using archives? More features on items from our own archives and collections? More alumni stories and information about family history? More from behind the scenes and how we care for our collections? More about upcoming events and exhibitions? More pointers towards inspirational resources? 

If you don’t tell us, we won’t know how to improve, so please let us know your thoughts in the comments bit below. 


Partage Plus – Digitising and enabling Art Nouveau for Europeana

partage-plus-logoPartage Plus, starting in March 2012 and lasting for 2 years, will digitise Art Nouveau objects, artworks, posters, and buildings to create c75,000 items, including 2,000 3D models, of content for access through Europeana, a single access point to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitised throughout Europe

The Art Nouveau style was a great success all over Europe at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. It is well represented, in almost every art form, in museum collections, archives, libraries, photographic archives, and on buildings throughout Europe. After a short period of disinterest, with the arrival of modernist styles, it seems that Art Nouveau is now even more popular than ever.

The amount of content to be available on Partage Plus represents a significant increase in the quantity of Art Nouveau content available on the Web. Within the scope of Partage Plus grand masterpieces of the Art Nouveau period as well as outstanding examples from the collections of the collaborating institutions will be made accessible to users. The Partage Plus website will act as the hub for meeting users’ needs and provide users with the opportunity to gather information about the Art Nouveau style; experience Art Nouveau works online through Europeana; and visit institutions with Art Nouveau collections.

Argyle High Back Chair, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for 120 Mains Street, Glasgow and also for the Luncheon Room, Argyle Street Tea Rooms, Glasgow, 1897

Argyle High Back Chair, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for 120 Mains Street, Glasgow and also for the Luncheon Room, Argyle Street Tea Rooms, Glasgow, 1897

Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh collection is soon to form part of the Partage Plus online catalogue. Photographers will be visiting us in October to take 3D images of the Mackintosh furniture collection, and other items from the collection, such as architectural drawings and artwork, may be available sooner than that.

The Partage Plus blog is a brilliant resource for Art Nouveau researchers and admirers, and just in the last few days, Charles Rennie Mackintosh has been the subject of two articles: one about the Glasgow School of Art, and another about House for an Art Lover.

For more information, visit the Partage Plus website.

Front cover of folio of House for an Art Lover designs, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1901

Front cover of folio of House for an Art Lover designs, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1901

BT Digital Archive Celebrates UK’s Telecoms Heritage

In a world where it’s increasingly the norm to communicate using social media, it seems a fitting-time for BT to celebrate 165 years of telecommunications through the creation of a £1m virtual library. The BT Digital Archives has digitised 500,000 items including some truly weird images which collectively, reflect the heritage of electronic communication in Britain and more amusingly, the country’s changing social history from the advent of technology.

The project’s funding came from JISC, the digital services body for UK education and research. JISC called upon Coventry University to merge the materials at BT and The National Archives into one searchable database which captures the late nineteenth-century zeitgeist of pioneering technological innovation and its increasing usage during the twentieth century. The archive traces history from pioneering attempts to establish an electronic communications network in Britain to the first ever telephone call made in 1879 to the role of telecommunications during both world wars.

The resource could prove tricky to navigate for those wishing to browse, however it is possible to limit the search criteria to a page from a record, book or photograph. The ‘mosaics’ tab yields the collection of photographic images such as the examples here. Creative Commons copyright governs the use of the archive’s materials meaning that they can be reproduced provided the source is credited.

Among the key highlights of the archive are a letter from Alexander Graham Bell offering his invention, the telephone, to the British government (who turned it down) and correspondence from the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi discussing his “new system of telegraphy without wires.” There are pictures documenting the first ever 999 call and documents showing how the notorious killer Dr Crippen was caught in 1910 with the use of a transatlantic telegram. The BBC’s newspage has compiled a list of its favourite items here.

So whether it’s to research the past 165 years in British history, look at changing cultural behaviours, or glean inspiration for a new design, there’s plenty here to keep you hanging on the telephone.

Reblogged from GSA Library’s Art and Design Resources blog

New RCAHMS digital image library

RCAHMS, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, has recently made thousands of images available in a new online digital image library. Through active surveying and recording programmes, RCAHMS adds new online images to the Canmore database every day. These include interior and exterior views of buildings and archaeological sites, aerial photographs, and digital drawings, all of which may be of interest as inspiration for artists, architects and designers.

RCAHMS also maintains an active digitisation programme of its Collection items, copying photographs and historic views, photograph albums, original architects’ drawings and new survey drawings, engravings and sketches, books and maps, and also receives material from external depositors and accessions.

When you search Canmore for buildings or archaeological sites of interest, anything from the Collections that has already been digitised will be shown (excluding copyright restricted images). There are already 200,000 digital images available online.

Furthermore, all images can be purchased as digital images, photographic prints or poster prints by clicking the Order Image link below each image.

Portobello Pier in Edinburgh was opened in 1871 and demolished after 1918. From the Photograph Albums Collection. DP137192. Image credit: RCAHMS

Portobello Pier in Edinburgh was opened in 1871 and demolished after 1918. From the Photograph Albums Collection. DP137192. Image credit: RCAHMS