Writing back – local women writers take inspiration from the archive

Great example of use of archives and creative writing, with the Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies. You can find a similar archive with us, the Working Press publishers, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996 

Brunel Special Collections

A guest post by Emma Filtness.

I have spent many happy hours over the past three years absorbed in the Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiography, amused, moved, shocked and entertained by the life stories of a select few of the women contained within. Dr Claire Lynch introduced me to the archive, which has since come to form an integral part of my Creative Writing PhD, so when Claire emailed me about a project that involved a combination of rooting around in yet another special collection and creative writing, I was more than a little intrigued.

Brunel University Library’s Special Collections is currently the home of SALIDAA, the South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive. SALIDAA was awarded lottery funding to run a heritage project, ‘Mummyji’, which would consist of a range of local activities including workshops in schools, author talks, readings and events in libraries in and…

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Stolen Glances: Reinterpreting the Archive

In a collaboration with Beige Magazine, and UCA Fashion Promotion first year Fashion students have responded to Photographic Archive of LGBT 1980s/1990s Photographer Tessa Boffin, specialising in sex and sexual fantasy and the first British lesbian to do work into AIDS as early as the 1980s.


‘Beige is a free quarterly Culture, Fashion, Travel and Lifestyle magazine that delivers passionate, creative and complete coverage to the LGBT community and beyond. Beige balances creative editorial with useful and insightful lifestyle solutions. Each issue contains in-depth travel features, character interviews, extensive cultural coverage and original fashion editorial. Beige gives its readers defined and diverse sections in which to explore and embrace their world. Our goal is to empower the multi-facetted modern LGBT market in their search for enlightenment and entertainment. As a LGBT magazine Beige supports aspiring journalists, artists, and designers from our own community but also looks beyond for fresh blood and talent. Beige strives to seek out new and exciting ideas and experiences. To pay homage to what has been before and find inspiration for the future.’


For the brief Fashion Promotion students responded to the archive, creating their own interpretation of the project work, both written and visual. One exceptional students work will be in print for the Beige issue 09, and 11 other students work will be featured online. For further information on the project, see here

Preserving the Collections: The Challenges of 2D Animation Preservation

The Bob Godfrey collection comprises several different media from acetate animation cels, paper drawings, storyboards, scripts, dope sheets and occasional audio tracks. One of the big issues we are facing is how best to preserve a multi-media collection of this kind, and more specifically how best to preserve acetate animation cels.

Acetate is a highly volatile format which is prone to deterioration if it is not kept in conditions which provide a constant level of temperature and humidity, ideally the colder the better. Coming from a film background I am very familiar with the issues surrounding the preservation of acetate films. The challenge with acetate animation cels is that not only are we dealing with the acetate itself which is prone to vinegar syndrome, curling and folding but in addition each cel can be seen as a piece of artwork, carefully painted by hand, usually with acrylic paints. Quite often the paint will stick to the paper used to separate the cels and then we are faced with how to separate these without causing paint transfer and the loss of the image.



The second challenge is that the preservation of acetate cels is an under researched area. Due to historic storage issues some of the cels have been folded, quite often right across the picture. Here the problem we face is how to flatten the cels out without causing the acetate to crack as acetate tears easily and can be quite brittle.


We have actively been looking for answers to these challenges, undertaking research and seeking advice from our archive colleagues. Since so little research has been carried out in this area it is an exciting opportunity to find a way forward. Both Disney’s archives and Cinematheque Francaise have undertaken most work in this area. For more information follow the links below:






Videos on Understanding and Researching Archives Released

Videos and transcripts on understanding and researching archives have been released, as part of a series for researchers to understand how to approach archives and special collections. Issues with approaching archives, include that the word archive has many different definitions  to different people, and the structure of an archive catalogue, as opposed to a library catalogue may be hard to understand and search.

The webpage can be found here

The videos so far look at ‘What is an Archive’ and an archive catalogue structure – why can’t an archive be catalogued on a library catalogue?



Learning and Teaching in the archives: Case studies

Case studies of using archives & special collections in higher education and further education at the University for the Creative Arts have been released and are accessible here

For further information and lesson plans please email archives@ucreative.ac.uk

Long Live the Art School display

These include:

First Year BA CG Arts and Animation UCA Rochester (click here to access the case study) : A hands on workshop with the Archivist and Librarian, using the Bob Godfrey animation archive, discussing primary and secondary resources, and using archives for inspiration resulting in an exhibition

Second Year Photography (BA), Narrative Module, Rochester and Farnham (click here to access the case study/lesson plan and feedback): A workshop fitting the brief of the narrative module, comprising of presentations, group discussion and feedback and a hands-on workshop to follow the narrative brief, which included archival cataloguing and appraisal theory. Access the power point from the day by clicking here. Access the handout here

Further Education

FE Diploma in Art and Design, Canterbury, UNESCO-RLCCE’s / UNESCO-HK’s International “Arts for Peace” Festival (click here to access the case study)

Print screen from website