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.

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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

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!

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.

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

 

How Archives Inform the Future

Unbroken Thread Exhibition Material  DC/076/20)

Unbroken Thread Exhibition Poster (DC/076/20)

 

Archivists are often seen as the guardians of historical collections. Over time we collect, protect and disseminate materials ranging from an organisation’s paper records, to ceramic tea sets; almost anything can fall under the gaze of an archivist. In the case of the work we do here at the Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections Centre, we are attempting to preserve for posterity works and records that reflect the school, its major events, and its inhabitants (both student and staff) from 1845 to the present. This is why we seek to acquire new works, such as the recent acquisitions from this year’s degree show (see here for these unique items) that will add to the constantly evolving picture of the School’s history.

China Tea Service 1915 - Ann MacBeth NMC/233)

China Tea Service 1915 – Ann Macbeth (NMC/233i)

 

China Tea Service 1915 - Ann MacBeth (NMC/233/ii)

China Tea Service 1915 – Ann Macbeth (NMC/233ii)

Of course, while it is great fun to be one of the caped-crusaders of the heritage world (an attic full of sketchbooks you say? I am on my way!), archives can also be perceived as housing, well, a lot of ‘old stuff’. What is the relevance of such stuff you ask? Well I can tell you. Archives provide the opportunity to gaze back at the innovations, creations and events of particular organisations or people, and in doing so can inspire those in the present to innovate and create on their own.

For an archive based around artistic works and collections this is particularly easy to demonstrate as students use what exists in the archive to inspire and inform their own works. For instance, one of our recent graduates, Rosie O’Grady based her degree show on articles she found in the archive (a rather interesting piece involving a camel… please see here), and classes looking to examine a specific discipline – such as textiles, or poster work – can look through a mass of material that reflects how disciplines have progressed at the School.

An interesting decorative animal  by Shirley Tweedale , 1959NDS/GB/070)

An interesting decorative animal by Shirley Tweedale , 1959 (NDS/GB/070)

 

You have to love such an extravagant tea cosy! - Miss Robertson 1880s NMC/1542)

You have to love such an extravagant tea cosy! – Miss Robertson 1880s (NMC/1542)

Of course, the fact that archives can hold amazing collections that can be used to inspire new works is not really a secret. Recently the Marks & Spencer Archive has teamed up with the University of Leeds to help inform a new online course in business innovation that looks to stimulate creative ideas in the business sector. It will feature videos, forums and quizzes and will draw on case studies developed from the Marks & Spencer Archive. Or you may also have noticed the recent appearance of a number of items in John Lewis that draw on its archive to celebrate its 150th anniversary. These items include special edition versions of archival prints or direct reproductions in order to celebrate its history.

John Lewis Display

John Lewis Display

 

Archives can be used as a tool to aid the creative process in a number of industries. Take a look at these archives to see some of the different approaches.

 

The John Johnson Collection

National Media Museum

The Clarks Archive

The Cartoon Archive

The Adidas Archive

 

Artists using archives: ‘A Feminist Chorus’ by Lucy Reynolds in collaboration with MAP

Illustrated Woman's Almanac, Lippincott Company, 1976. Courtesy Glasgow Women's Library Collection

Illustrated Woman’s Almanac, Lippincott Company, 1976. Courtesy Glasgow Women’s Library Collection

One film, two sound works & one performance across three Glasgow venues from 4 to 21 April 2014

Adding a communal voice to Glasgow’s feminist history, ‘A Feminist Chorus’ is created by Lucy Reynolds in collaboration with MAP. Reynolds is interested in the collective power of the Women’s Movement, (with Greenham Common as the subject of her film installation ‘Silo Walk’, 2009) tracing it on this occasion through the spaces, writings and memories of the city.

The chorus will feature readings from Glasgow School of Art’s student registers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries

The full spoken word score for the chorus brings together three connected narratives of women’s histories in Glasgow for a one-off live performance at Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL) in Bridgeton during the launch weekend of Glasgow International. Drawing on the collection of GWL and the city’s archives, it includes personal texts, readings of historic registers from Glasgow School of Art (GSA) and Blythswood Square, and extracts from historic and contemporary writings. Participants have been invited from a wide community across Glasgow. A film of this performance will be sited among the books in the library for the duration of Glasgow International to become thereafter part of the archive, so creating a legacy of the event, which will find new resonances beyond Glasgow, in libraries and women’s resources centres across the UK.

Two separate sound installations are sited within five minutes walk of each other in city centre locations historically connected with working women artists over the past 100 years. The first installation is sited at Glasgow School of Art in the ‘Hen Run’ (reflecting the predominance of women students in the adjacent studios) and is based on the names of women students from the school’s early years in the 1880s, brought forth in the voices of contemporary GSA students. The other installation is sited at 5 Blythswood Square, a luxury office which was from 1882 to 1971 home to the Glasgow Society of Lady Artists. In a telephone booth there—designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the Lady artists in the 1890s—the Society’s unique programmes of exhibitions, tableaux and soirees will be remembered in the recitations of current women artists working in Glasgow.

Lucy Reynolds works as an artist, curator and academic explores the questions of feminism, political space and collectivity through a practice of film, performance and sound – which often invites and involves others. Her films and performances seek to excavate the rich seams of memory and experience inscribed in sites of a feminist resonance: from Greenham Common to the Glasgow Women’s Library, bringing these pasts into a contemporary register through the collective voice and memories of current day women. She is interested in the potential of creative collaboration for generating new ways of making art, and re-imagining what a feminist practice might be in the future.

MAP publish artist writing, film, video, performance, audio and readings, alongside interviews, conversations and critical essays. Working across on-and offline situations, MAP curates an expanded site for re-examining and developing practices of active looking, reading, creating and sharing. We regularly commission and distribute new work online and programme concurrent events.

Exhibition and Performance
Glasgow Women’s Library
23 Landressy Street
Glasgow, G40 1BP
Exhibition 4 to 21 April—Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 5pm, Tues 9.30am to 7.30pm
Performance—Sat 5 April, 5 to 6pm
To book

Sound work at the Glasgow School of Art, 4 to 21 April
‘Hen Run’
167 Renfrew Street
Glasgow, G3 6RQ
20 minute tours leave daily at 12.15pm and 4.15pm
To book

Sound work at 5 Blythswood Square, 4 to 17 April
Glasgow, G2 4AD
Mon—Fri 11:00—11:50am, 3:00—3:50pm
Ten minute appointments with max 2 people per booking

To book

For more information on this project, including a full biography on the artist, please contact alice@mapmagazine.co.uk or laura@mapmagazine.co.uk

Gerard Murphy’s anatomy and life drawings

An anatomy drawing by Gerard Murphy currently on display in GSA Library caught the eye of one of GSA’s Continuing Education tutors. Inspired by what was on display she and a few others made an appointment to view his other anatomy drawings and his life drawings.

Gerard Murphy was a student at Glasgow School of Art in the 1930s. Following his studies at the Art School, he went on to be an art teacher in several schools near Glasgow.  The Archives and Collections Centre has recently been gifted his student material, including architectural sketches, life studies and several anatomy drawings.

Life drawing by Gerard Murphy, GSA student, 1930s

Life drawing by Gerard Murphy, GSA student, 1930s

Another life drawing by Gerard Murphy - notice the life model is the life model in the photograph below!

Another life drawing by Gerard Murphy – notice the life model is the life model in the photograph below!

While browsing through the sketches we recognised the life model as being the same life model who appears in some of the photographs in our collection!

GSAA/P/1/851 Students with life model (centre), 1930s

GSAA/P/1/851 Students with life model (centre), 1930s

However the star of the show was definitely Murphy’s sketch of one of the School’s plaster casts which had our visitors in absolute awe:

Gerard Murphy's drawing of GSA's cast of Michelangelo's Slave

Gerard Murphy’s drawing of GSA’s cast of Michelangelo’s Slave

For more information on the history of Anatomy drawing at GSA and our current display in GSA Library read our PDF guide Anatomy at GSA, and if you’d like to come and see the sketches for yourself, do get in touch.