AfL Conference: Arts and London’s Archives

Programme

10.00am    Registration and Coffee

10.15am    Welcome

10.20am    Placing the Archive at the Heart of the Arts Centre 

                   Jessica Ihejetoh and Clare Wood, Southbank Centre

11.05am    Picturing Mao in London: the China Visual Arts Project Archive at the University of Westminster

                  Anna McNally, University of Westminster

11.50am    Albert’s Archive – Accessing the History of the Iconic Royal Albert Hall

                  Elizabeth Harper, Royal Albert Hall

12.35 -2pm  Lunch break – lunch is not provided, Exmouth Market is nearby and has a range of options

2.00pm    Unboxing Original Artworks in the Archive – Ann Chow, The National Archives

                A history of design in the Archives, 1839-1991 – Julie Halls, The National Archives

                Copyright and the Fine Arts – Steve Cable, The National Archives

2.45pm    ‘Not another museum’: reconciling the archive with the contemporary

                 Dan Heather, the Institute of Contemporary Arts/Barts NHS Health Trust

3.30pm    Cataloguing Art Archives – the Good, the Bad and Everything In Between                                                                Morwenna Roche, The Wallace Collection

4.15pm    Closing remarks

Advance booking is essential. Please book your place through Eventbrite http://tinyurl.com/AfLevents or by contacting Membership Secretary Louise Harrison on 020 7332 3879.

Abstracts:

Placing the Archive at the Heart of the Arts Centre

Southbank Centre’s Archive Studio opened with Heritage Lottery Funding in October 2015 alongside a capital project to restore Southbank Centre’s 1960s buildings.

The Archive Studio is the engine room for our heritage programme: a space for organising, documenting, preserving and opening up access to our extensive archives.  We are working to develop new models for open and participatory archive practice, blurring the lines between collections management, public participation and artistic practice.

By considering heritage as an artform, and aligning archive activity with Southbank Centre’s annual programme of 15 cross-arts festivals, we are able to collaborate with both traditional and new partners and audiences. Clare and Jess will discuss some recent examples of Archive Studio projects and consider how the different roles of Archivist and Artform Producer can be combined to best effect.  

Picturing Mao in London: the China Visual Arts Project Archive at the University of Westminster

 The China Visual Arts Project was founded in the 1970s to support classes in Chinese Language and Politics at the then Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster). Over time the project acquired over 800 propaganda posters from Hong Kong and mainland China, dating from the 1940s to the 1980s, alongside a wealth of books, objects and ephemera. While the posters in particular have been the subject of much research, the story of the collection itself has been little considered. This paper will examine how the collection was created, catalogued and managed, and consider how this contextual information creates a new approach to understanding the collection, one that tells us as much about the collectors as it does the subject.

Albert’s Archive – Accessing the History of the Iconic Royal Albert Hall

The Royal Albert Hall is arguably the world’s most famous performance venue with iconic figures such as Albert Einstein, The Beatles, Emmeline Pankhurst, Muhammad Ali, and Sir Winston Churchill having trod its boards. The Royal Albert Hall Archive, established six years ago, aims to collect, preserve and make accessible the history of the ‘nation’s village hall’ especially in the run-up to its 150th birthday in 2021.  The Archive contain collections relating to the Grade 1 listed building, 1851 Great Exhibition, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Queen’s Hall, and of course the legendary performances to have taken place in the Hall.  The talk will discuss how and why the Archive was set up, the breadth of its collections, how it is utilised by the organisation, researchers and even performers and how the Hall’s history can be accessed online.

A history of design in the Archives, 1839-1991 – Julie Halls

Julie Halls will give an overview of the range and context of the registered designs held at The National Archives. These include designs by well-known names as diverse as William Morris, Coco Chanel and members of the Bloomsbury Group.

Copyright and the Fine Arts – Steve Cable

Steve Cable will cover the range of photographs and artworks registered under the 1862 Fine Arts Copyright Act.

Unboxing original artworks in the archive – Ann Chow

Ann Chow will briefly talk about the diversity and range of original artworks held at The National Archives, including works by William Pretyman and Mervyn Peake.

‘Not another museum’: reconciling the archive with the contemporary

Established in 1948 as a home for avant-garde art practices in London, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) has increasingly sought to engage with its legacy in recent years. This presentation explores what it means for an organisation invested in the notion of the contemporary to interrogate its archive, and how the seemingly oppositional urges toward an exploration of history and an anxiety about dwelling in the past can be reconciled. Taking the notion of the ICA’s archive as a source for new ideas rather than nostalgia, this presentation looks at the role of the archive as an active point of departure in exhibition making.

Cataloguing Art Archives – the Good, the Bad and Everything In Between

Morwenna will discuss the nature of art and the variety of issues that arise when cataloguing art archives; the good, the bad and everything in between as well as how these collections can be used once catalogued.