Archive Thinkers: How Artists and Researchers use Archives
January 27th, 2-5.45pm
This is a Physical and Online Seminar- with the physical Seminar taking place in Aberystwyth Arts Centre Cinema and the Online Seminar on Zoom- please choose the Online or Physical event when booking. To accompany the seminar, there will be a private view thereafter at 6pm in the gallery with wine and nibbles and a chance to meet the artist- please book the Private View link for this.
The archive is the subject of a fascinating seminar that will explore the importance of archives to artistic practice and academic research, which coincides with Anna Falcini’s exhibition In Between the Folds are Particles at the gallery. The exhibition is the culmination of five years of research into the materials of the late Welsh artist Gwen John from the collections of Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru (National Library of Wales) and other archives.
The seminar will consider how archives can inform and shape artistic practice, how archives are critical in developing innovative research, revealing new knowledge, and how archivists and curators facilitate collections and are integral to the production of new work by artists and researchers.
Joining artist, Anna Falcini and Curator, Ffion Rhys to explore these themes will be:
Professor Maria Tamboukou (Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of East London and author of ‘Nomadic Narratives, Visual Forces: Gwen John’s Letters and Paintings’ (2010)
Walking the archive: epistolary geographies and visual topographies
In this talk I look back at the ways I worked at the archives of the Rodin Museum in Paris with ‘Mary Gwendolen John’s’ letters. I particularly consider how spaces and places created an intense affective context for my understanding to emerge and unfold through reading ‘troubling letters’ and then tracing their material remains in the streets and buildings of Paris, as well as in John’s many paintings of the places and spaces she lived in and walked around. In this light the archive is theorised as an assemblage of written texts, visual images, walking experiences, as well as objects of material culture, an experimental milieu that eventually challenged long held mythologies and stereotypes around the artist.
Neil Lebeter, Senior Curator: Modern and Contemporary Art, Amgueddfa Cymru/ National Museum Wales
Bob and Roberta Smith & the Epstein Archive
Between 2009 and 2012, artist Bob and Roberta Smith worked with the New Art Gallery Walsall on a unique project with the recently acquired Epstein Archive. The collection details the family history of the sculptor Jacob Epstein, his 2nd wife Kathleen Garman and their children. Previously unresearched, the collection was catalogued in parallel with Smith as he was creating new works in response to the material.
The archive details the life and career of one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century, but also is a record of the effect that Epstein’s fame and career had on his family. As well as creating a rich body of work over the course of the project, Smith curated the 2011 exhibition ‘The Life of the Mind: Love, Sorrow and Obsession’ and the permanent installation ‘Bob and Roberta Smith’s Epstein Archive Gallery’, using the Epstein Archive as inspiration.
Neil Lebeter, then Archive Curator at Walsall, will discuss the project and some of the works and stories that emerged from the archive.
Anna Falcini, Artist
During a residency in 2014, at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Anna Falcini began researching the letters of the late Welsh artist Gwen John at Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru/The National Library of Wales. Captivated by the intricacies of John’s life that were revealed through the letters, Anna began to develop a body of work in response to them, culminating in the solo exhibition “In Between the Folds are Particles”. In her presentation, Anna will discuss how important these archival materials were in realising the exhibition and tracing John’s life, from her early life in Wales, to the streets of Paris and her final resting place, Dieppe.
Lorena Troughton, Archivist Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru/ National Library of Wales
Lorena Troughton, Archivist will discuss how the National Library of Wales enables collections to be used for artistic research, and the processes involved in conserving collections, focusing in particular on the Gwen John archive and how it was acquired.
Beth Hopkins, Artist, Outside In
Artist researcher Beth Hopkins discusses her residency working with archives at Bethlem Royal Psychiatric Hospital in Kent (the birthplace of the term ‘bedlam’). Through her explorations of patient case notes and photographs from the 1890s, Beth addresses issues of restraint, agency and identity as a patient, both historically and today.
 Orlow, U. (2006) ‘Latent Archives, Roving Lens’ In: Ruins: Documents of Contemporary Art, Cambridge: Whitechapel Gallery and the MIT Press. pp 204-214
Image: Chère Julie (2019) Film Still (Anna Falcini)