Some interesting resources about interventions in libraries and archives


Student intervention in the library. Photo © Sarah Ainslie, 2011

Student intervention in the library. Photo © Sarah Ainslie, 2011

The Artist in the Library blog documents a project that reflected on the relationships between artists and libraries; how their spaces, systems and structures provide inspirational possibilities for artists, and how artists’ involvement, working processes and interventions can be fruitful and inspiring for libraries.

A key component of the project was the collaboration between the Institute for Performing Arts Development and Library and Learning Services at the University of East LondonIn spring 2011 a group of 1st year undergraduate students worked for a period of 12 weeks developing individual projects that came from, and were to be sited in, UEL’s Docklands library. These were realised as part of ‘Mayfest’ 2011, UEL’s annual festival of Performing Arts.

In June 2011 a half-day symposium brought together more than 80 artists, librarians and researchers from around the UK with presentations and discussions exploring a range of projects that intervene in, respond to, or collaborate with all kinds of libraries.

cropped-100_1154Meanwhile, Archive Interventions is a project run by a PhD candidate in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester.

Until quite recently, slides were the mainstay of teaching in art history. The department’s collection contains many unique images built up by members of staff over many years. This resource was also extensively used by staff teaching visual culture in other subject areas. In the space of less than ten years, slide technology has become rapidly and completely obsolete. As of next year, no centrally timetabled teaching rooms will be equipped with slide projectors. Currently, the slides are almost completely unused, depriving students of an invaluable resource, so they are presently sorting through the collection to identify slides for possible digitisation and preservation. They are also developing a programme of events with a focus upon how arts and visual culture resources can be used for teaching and research; the role of old and new technologies; issues around archiving.

The blog showcases some of the material held in their collection, and also offers some interesting thoughts on visual culture archives and shares finds from other blogs about how artists are using, interacting with and intervening in archives and libraries.

Past Is Prologue: Artists Who Work With Archives

We too attended the Past is Prologue conference about using archives for creative practice held at Goldsmiths last week. This blog post provides an excellent summary of the presentations and workshops from the day, and will definitely be of interest to students and other creative practitioners interested in how archives can inform their work.

On Wednesday September 18th I had the pleasure of attending a conference called Past Is Prologue, hosted at Goldsmiths by an organisation called LIFT. The day was advertised on their website as follows:

A day of dialogues and presentations exploring the ways in which artists draw creative potential from archive material such as photographs, film, artifacts and oral histories.

As a volunteer researcher and blogger for Archives+, who also happens to be an artist (I often use archive material and historical sources to inform my creative work), this conference presented an ideal opportunity to find out more about working with archives as an artist, and to meet people with similar interests.

It would take an essay to cover all the interesting material shared over the course of the day, so instead I’m going to focus on a few carefully selected examples. A sample of the events…

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Saving a Century photography exhibition

saving a century

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland (Strathclyde Group) and the Victorian Society are holding a photographic exhibition entitled Saving a Century, curated by noted architectural historian Gavin Stamp. The exhibition will be on show at the Mitchell Library, Granville Street, Glasgow, G3 7DN from 1 – 30 October, Monday to Saturday. Free admission.

The exhibition includes:

VICTORIAN BUILDINGS LOST BEFORE 1958 – A photographic survey of some of the best Victorian buildings destroyed in the first half of the twentieth century, among them Crystal Palace (burnt down 30th November 1936), Trentham Hall, Staffordshire (abandoned by the 4th Duke of Sutherland in 1906 and demolished five years later) and Queen’s Park Church, Glasgow (Scotland’s worst architectural loss of the Second World War).

THE FOUNDATION OF THE VICTORIAN SOCIETY – Photographs and material from the opening meetings of the Society. Early members included architect Hugh Casson, architectural historian Christopher Hussey, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner and Sir John Betjeman.

THE EUSTON MURDER AND OTHER CASES – Photographs and text documenting the bitter battle for the Euston Arch, as well some of the Victorian Society’s other early defeats. There were early victories too, among them the Oxford University Museum, proposed for demolition in 1961 to make way for new science buildings. The Victorian Society also succeeded in getting the Broad Street Building of Balliol College listed, after it was threatened with a re-build in 1963.

VICTORY IN WHITEHALL – Photographs charting the heroic, ten-year campaign against plans to demolish much of the historic square mile, including nearly every building south of Downing Street and Richmond Terrace. Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Foreign Office, Richard Norman Shaw’s New Scotland Yard and Middlesex Guildhall in Parliament Square were among the buildings proposed for demolition.

PLACES OF WORSHIP – A photographic survey of some of the historic churches, chapels and synagogues with which the Victorian Society has been involved. As churches are exempt from the secular planning system, it can be particularly difficult to guard them against insensitive change. With falling attendance figures and a growing number of redundant places of worship, the future of our best churches is one of the biggest challenges facing heritage campaigners today.

RAILWAY BUILDINGS – Photographs of some of the key buildings the Victorian Society fought for, as the closure of many branch and other railway lines resulted in the redundancy of numerous stations, bridges and viaducts. That many pioneering and magnificent railway structures, such as St Pancras Station, survive today, often still in use, is very much owing to the efforts of the Society.

IRON, GLASS & STONE – Photographs of some of the most innovative nineteenth century buildings, among them Clevedon Pier, Islington’s Royal Agricultural Hall and Bradford’s Kirkgate Market, for which the Victorian Society has fought.

THE FUNCTIONAL TRADITION – Photographs of some of the most impressive industrial buildings for which the Society has fought. With the decline of the traditional industries of the North of England after the Second World War, many mills and warehouses became redundant while many Northern towns and cities became ashamed of their Victorian industrial legacy and anxious to replace it with something new. The Victorian Society, along with bodies such as SAVE Britain’s Heritage, argued that nineteenth century industrial buildings were evocative and substantial structures which were not only of historical importance but capable of gainful re-use.

THE PURPLE OF COMMERCE – Photographs of some of the most significant Victorian commercial buildings to have come under threat in the last fifty years. Built partly as self-advertisements and partly to inspire confidence, these ambitious and substantial banks, offices and warehouses too often fall victim to redevelopment schemes.

COUNTRY HOUSES – Photographs of some of the grandest country houses to have been the subject of Victorian Society campaigns, among them Shadwell Park, Tyntesfield and Highcliffe Castle. Rendered redundant by social and cultural changes, some of the most famous large houses were demolished between the wars while many more disappeared in the 1950s.

DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE – A collection of photographs of some of the Victorian villas and terraced houses for which the Victorian Society has fought. Often extravagant and fanciful buildings, these buildings are regularly demolished to allow higher density developments in their grounds or make way for flats.

PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS – A photographic survey of some of the best municipal buildings that have been saved or lost. Physical embodiments of the Victorians’ strong sense of civic pride and duty, many of these splendid town halls, libraries, swimming pools, museums, art galleries and post offices still add much to the rich character of British towns and cities today.

BEACONS OF THE FUTURE – A survey of some of the Society’s most recent campaigns, focusing on the battle for Victorian schools and swimming pools. Among the battles highlighted are the protest and funeral for Bonner School, the Public Inquiry for Easington Colliery School and the local campaign for the Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham.

THE VICTORIANS VICTORIOUS – Photographs of some of the most notable Victorian buildings used and valued today.

In conjunction with the exhibition, James Macaulay will present Saving a Century?, a talk at the Mitchell Library on Tuesday 1 October at 6.00. All welcome. Admission £4.00.

Click here for further information: SAC Glasgow poster _2013_JMacaulay_poster_rev G

Inspiration from the Fondation Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent

A new online archive of inspiration images from fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent has recently been launched.

A prize-winning design for a cocktail dress caught the eye of the Dior fashion house in 1954 and the teenage Yves Saint Laurent's career in Paris was assured.

Yves Saint Laurent as a teenager in 1954

A prize-winning design for a cocktail dress caught the eye of the Dior fashion house in 1954 and the teenage Yves Saint Laurent’s career in Paris was assured. In association with Pierre Bergé, whom he had met in 1958, Yves Saint Laurent decided to create his own couture house and his first collection was presented in 1962 in Paris. Yves Saint Laurent is credited with the invention of the modern woman’s wardrobe: the pea-jacket and trenchcoat in 1962, the first tuxedo in 1966, the safari jacket and the first trouser suit in 1967, the first transparent effects and the first jumpsuit in 1968. By making use of male dress codes, he brought women self-assurance, audacity and power whilst preserving their femininity. Wishing to dress all women, not only rich haute couture clients, Yves Saint Laurent opened his Saint Laurent rive gauche boutique in 1966 in Paris, the first ready-to-wear boutique to bear a couturier’s name, thus paving the way to what has today become the fashion world.

YSLFrom the end of the 1950s and throughout his career Yves Saint Laurent also created costumes for theatre, ballet and cinema. He collaborated with Roland Petit, Claude Régy, Jean-Louis Barrault, Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut… and dressed Jean Marais, Zizi Jeanmaire, Arletty, Jeanne Moreau, Isabelle Adjani and Catherine Deneuve.

After his retirement from designing, Yves Saint Laurent devoted his energy to the activities of the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, which was state-approved on 5th December 2002. While Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé always took care to preserve this important collection of fashion and sketches, the Fondation’s mission is now to conserve the 5,000 haute couture garments and 150,000 accessories, sketches and other objects making up the collection; to organise thematic exhibitions on fashion, painting, photography, the decorative arts, etc.; and to support cultural and educational activities.

The Fondation wanted all aspects of the archive to be accessible and as such set about digitizing the collection. Paper dolls, fashion sketches, sketches of costumes and sets for film, theater, ballet and music-hall, and also posters and a comic, will be made available on the website of the Foundation. Detailed instructions accompany each of these works and they are fully searchable.

Within the archive there is evidence of Yves Saint Laurent’s own inspiration. As early as 1965 Yves Saint Laurent paid tribute to artists in his haute couture collections with the famous Mondrian dresses, then in 1966 with the pop art dresses and in 1967 with his major homage to Africa. In the 1970s he presented his Picasso and Diaghilev collections and tributes to Matisse, Cocteau, Braque, Van Gogh, Apollinaire in the 1980s.

There is also the opportunity to dress your own doll, just like Yves Saint Laurent did when compiling his collections! The archive still holds the collection of paper dolls, clothes and accessories he made between 1953 and 1955. There is also some excellent information about how the team cares for and conserves the collection. The website’s default language is set to French but is easily changeable to English, so get browsing!

Yves Saint Laurent and Paper dolls, Paris, 1957 Photography François Pagès © François Pagès / Paris Match / Scoop

Yves Saint Laurent and Paper dolls, Paris, 1957
Photography François Pagès
© François Pagès / Paris Match / Scoop

Robert Stewart Exhibition, Dunoon

Bob Stewart dunoon flyerRobert Stewart

Cowal Open Studios Guest Artist 2013

Dunoon Burgh Hall, 13 – 30 September, Preview 12 September 6-7.30pm

Cowal Open Studios and Dunoon Burgh Hall Trust present this exhibition of works by Robert Stewart, one of the design pioneers of the 20th Century.  Robert Stewart lived in Cowal from 1961 where he and Sheila raised their familyand where his widow Sheila still lives.  Their sons Alan and Billy run Stewarts Garage in Dunoon.

A number of items from Glasgow School of Art’s Archives and Collections will be on display, including some of his posters, ceramic panels and his breathtaking tapestry Genesis.

The exhibition, a partnership project between Cowal Open Studios and Dunoon Burgh Hall Trust with funding from Creative Scotland and Argyll and Bute Third Sector Fund, will be opened by Jimmy Cosgrove, former Depute Director of Glasgow School of Art and former director with House for an Art Lover.

Detail from NMC 744, ceramic panel by Robert Stewart, 1966

Detail from NMC 744, ceramic panel by Robert Stewart, 1966

The exhibition has been curated by Artist and Designer Anne E Ferguson and celebrates the work of Robert Stewart and his contemporaries. Work created by pupils from local schools across Cowal inspired by the work and philosophy of Robert Stewart will also be displayed. There will also be a Family drop-in workshops with Hannah Clinch on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th 12-3pm (bring light-coloured clothes, t-shirts/pillow slips – to print on!)

There will be a talk by Liz Arthur, author of ‘Robert Stewart, Design 1946-95’ on Saturday 21 September at 1pm. The Robert Stewart Exhibition will be shown as part of the Cowal Open Studios event from Friday 27thto Monday 30th

The exhibition is on at Dunoon Burgh Hall from 13th-30th September, open Thursday-Sunday from 12-3pm, with a preview on 12th September from 6-7.30pm. For more information visit the Cowal Open Studios website or Dunoon Burgh Hall website.

Photographer Robert Trotter dies aged 83

Robert Trotter as Mr Murdoch STV High Road

Robert Trotter as Mr Murdoch STV High Road

We were saddened to hear of the death of the photographer Robert Trotter, who died yesterday aged 83.

Trotter (1930-2013) was an actor, director and photographer who was active in the Scottish arts scene since the 1960s. After completing National Service in the 1950s he trained as a teacher, taught English at Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow and became a Lecturer in Drama at Glasgow University in 1965. He worked continuously on stage, radio and television since the late 1960s with his work reaching a worldwide audience when he joined the cast of the long-running TV drama Take the High Road in 1982.

Sing the City Exhibition, Glasgow, 2004

New York, Glasgow: from the crowd, exhibition, Glasgow, 2004

Later in life, in the 1990s he immersed himself in street photography.  In 2001 he published Sing the City a collection of his own photography of Glasgow and New York.  Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections holds around 300 of his photographs. This collection comprises images and text from his exhibition New York, Glasgow: from the crowd, a collection which emphasizes the similarity between city life in Glasgow and New York, which was held at Glasgow School of Art School of Design Atrium Gallery in 2004.

Our Robert Trotter collection catalogue can be viewed on the Archives Hub.

Exhibition featuring items from GSA’s collection currently on at the Fleming Collection

An exhibition entitled Learning to Draw/Drawing to Learn is currently on in Gallery Two at The Fleming Collection in London. Focusing on the practice of drawing, past and present staff and students of Glasgow School of Art reflect on traditional and current drawing practice and its place in art and art education. The works, selected for this exhibition by Professor Roger Wilson, Head of the School of Fine Art, and Stuart Mackenzie, Senior Lecturer in Painting and Printmaking, demonstrate drawing’s capacity for the exploratory, experimental and observational.

NMC 055, life drawing by William Somerville Shanks, c1910

NMC 055, life drawing by William Somerville Shanks, c1910

In preparing for Learning to Draw/Drawing to Learn Wilson and Mackenzie were fortunate to have access to an extensive archive of past work, including many items from GSA’s Archives and Collections. Indeed several items from our collections feature in the exhibition. These include a stunning, highly finished, life drawing by GSA student and tutor William Somerville Shanks from c1910; several small sketches completed by GSA tutor Fred Selby during his travels in Italy and the Middle East in the 1940s (see here for our previous post about him); and a recently acquired sketchbook featuring landscapes by former GSA 2nd headmaster Robert Brydall from 1873 (again, see here for our previous post about this item).

NMC 085, Farm wagon, Lincolnshire, by Joan Eardley, 1948-1949

NMC 085, Farm wagon, Lincolnshire, by Joan Eardley, 1948-1949

There are also two works by Joan Eardley who was a student at the school in the 1940s; a male nude by James McIntosh Patrick who studied at GSA in the 1920s under the artist Maurice Greiffenhagen (the work on show actually bears his corrections); and some sketchbooks by William Gray dating from 1916-1918, as well as the evening school medal he won in 1914.

NMC 605, Male figure study by James McIntosh Patrick, featuring corrections by Maurice Greiffenhagen, c1927

NMC 605, Male figure study by James McIntosh Patrick, featuring corrections by Maurice Greiffenhagen, c1927

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

As well as these items from GSA’s Archives and Collection, the curators were also able to borrow from a growing community of artists who are increasingly electing to stay and work in Glasgow. The exhibition coincides with the development of new academic programmes centred on drawing, confirming GSA’s engagement with this highly relevant medium. All of the works in Learning to Draw/Drawing to Learn use the language of drawing across divergent artistic practices.

The Fleming Collection is at 13 Berkeley Street, London W1J 8DU (nearest tube: Green Park). The exhibition is on from 3rd September – 9th October. The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday 10.00am-5.30pm (last entry is at 5.00pm) and admission is free.

See The Fleming Collection’s website for details.