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.

Opening Up Scotland’s Archives – Trainee Positions

Today the Scottish Council on Archives is launching an exciting new training scheme Opening up Scotland’s Archives in Edinburgh, Dundee, East Lothian and our very own Glasgow.

Scottish Council on Archives

Scottish Council on Archives

The institutions involved are:

  • Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow City Archives/Glasgow Life
  • Glasgow City Archives/Glasgow Life
  • University of Dundee’s Archive Services
  • University of Glasgow Archives
  • Edinburgh University’s Centre for Research
  • National Records of Scotland

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund this three year scheme offers six paid trainees the opportunity to contribute to the care and development of Scotland’s archival heritage.

As the keepers of public and personal memories, The Scottish Council on Archives are hoping to develop a diverse workforce that will bring new skills and perspectives to the table. Looking to attract those who may have never thought about undertaking a job in the archival profession this post will give each trainee the opportunity to work with some of the most unique collections across Scotland. Including ours!

A page from the Roll of Honour that detail the fallen soldiers in World War I. A part of our collection that will examined as part of this scheme

A page from the Roll of Honour that details GSA staff and students who were killed in World War I. The School’s Annual Reports from this period will be just one of the sets of records our trainee will get to work with.

Here at the Glasgow School of Art the trainee will be working with our collections on a project to commemorate the First World War while learning new skills. This project will look to highlight and explain the past to new audiences while ensuring that our documented national memory remains accessible for future generations.

If you would like more information on these traineeships and details on how to apply, please see The Scottish Council on Archives website and the attached advert: Scottish Council on Archives Traineeship Advert

The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections

You all will have seen in the news the sad events of Friday 23rd May where a fire broke out in the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building. Sadly the iconic Mackintosh Library was lost during this fire.

The archives and collections have also suffered some damage, however the bulk of our holdings are fine and have been removed from the site for an assessment of their condition. We would once again like to thank everyone who has helped and continues to offer their help during this process. The offers of support we have received has been truly overwhelming and has made this process much easier to bear. Thank you.

Unfortunately, the Archives and Collections will be closed for the foreseeable future. As soon as we have more news we will provide an update here.

Once again, thank you to all those who have helped and offered their assistance.

Getting in Touch: Fred Pollock

We were recently contacted by a relative of Glasgow School of Art alumnus Fred Pollock, who was a student at the School in the 1950s. Ronan Pollock (Fred’s son) very kindly sent us a link to a short documentary film he has made about his father called Portrait of an Abstract Artist. The documentary gives an insight into the work of Fred Pollock, and perspective on what it was like to be an art student in Glasgow in the 1950s.

Fred Pollock, No.1 Sunspots, 150×232 cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 1987-1998.

Fred Pollock, No.1 Sunspots, 150×232 cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 1987-1998. Image sourced from ‘Abstract Critical’.

While we were aware of artists like John Byrne and Alasdair Gray who were students at the School around this time, and have annual reports, prospectuses and other documentation for these years which provide a flavour of what the School was like then, we don’t have very much in the way of artwork in our collection from this period so it’s exciting to see examples of Fred Pollock’s work in the film. We also know little about what the School was like in terms of its relationship with Glasgow more widely during this period, so it’s interesting to get a sense of the juxtaposition between art and the industrial landscape that must have been so apparent in the city at this time.

You can find Portrait of an Abstract Artist here.

For more information please go to Abstract Critical.

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.

Moving the Crouching Venus

At the beginning of this week the Crouching Venus from GSA’s plaster cast collection was transported over to The Hunterian Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow for their ‘Picturing Venus’ exhibition (9 March 29 June 2014).

Whilst a seemingly simple task, enormous care had to be taken whilst transporting the piece between the two sites due to the fragility of the sculpture. The sculpture first had to be removed from its plinth and wrapped by art transporters, who then used a specialist trolley to lower it to the ground and move the Venus outside.

           

The sculpture was then driven over to The Hunterian Art Gallery to be installed as the centrepiece of ‘Picturing Venus’, a focused exhibition between The Hunterian and Glasgow University’s History of Art department that presents new research examining the occurrence of Venus’s image in art and the myths associated with her.

GSA’s Crouching Venus is believed to be a copy of the Crouching Venus in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence where it was taken in 1787. Also known as the Venere nel bagno and Vernere nella conchigla this version of the figure (of which there are a large number of versions with significant variations) is first defiantly recorded in 1704 when it was at the Villa Medici in Rome. All versions are thought to be copies of a statue referred to by Pliny as being by Doidalses and placed in one of the temples of the Portico d’Ottavia in Rome.

By the time the sculpture arrived at the exhibition space, the engravings from The Hunterian’s collection had already been hung. Therefore it was only a matter of unpacking and installing the plinth and cast.

The cast sits away from the wall, so the Crouching Venus can be seen in her entirety. New facets to the sculpture have already been discovered in the impression of a tiny hand on her back, mirroring the touch of the cherubs in the engravings on the walls. The low light of the room (for the preservation of the engravings) with spot lighting also enhances the shadows and depth of form in the sculpture.

 Picturing Venus runs from 9th March- 29th June in The Hunterian Art Gallery, at the University of Glasgow.

 Guest blog post by Penelope Hines, MSc Museum Studies student placement, The University of Glasgow 

Remembered/Imagined: New works inspired by the archive of The School of Scottish Studies

Presenting seven of Scotland’s creative artists as you’ve never seen them before…

Traditional musicians and composers Amble Skuse, Ailie Robertson and Mike Vass have teamed up with writers Angus Peter Campbell, Sophie Cooke, Rebecca Sharp and Charlotte Murray to create new works of music and words inspired by the archive of Scottish cultural treasures, The School of Scottish Studies. It is a treasure trove of recordings of songs, music, tales, verse, customs, beliefs and oral history. Hear them retold and reimagined through the creative collaboration of some of the country’s leading artists. Scotland’s past in the present.

The premiere concerts take place in 2014 performed by singer Maeve Mackinnon and Mr McFall’s Chamber, an ensemble with a reputation for their eclecticism and performances of unusual and exciting music.

Four new works have been specially commissioned for this tour and are interwoven with beautiful traditional repertoire, creating an hour’s performance that captures the riches of our cultural history through music and words with live instrumental, vocal and electronic sound. Featuring a world premiere performance by the Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin’.

Supported by Creative Scotland, PRSF Women Make Music, The Robertson Trust. In partnership with The School of Scottish Studies Archive at the University of Edinburgh, Hands Up For Trad.

Wed 12 Mar 2014, 19:30-20:40, Ticket Price: £10/£5 at Summerhall Main Hall, 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL

For more information see the event Facebook page or the event website. To book, visit the Summerhall website or call 0845 874 3001.