Residency at the UCA Animation Archive – Day 1

Hello all!  My name’s Sonia Friel and I’m a researcher based at Norwich University of the Arts. For the whole of this week, I’m going to be based in the Animation Archive at UCA, working with Rebekah Taylor.  Each day I’m running workshops from the Animation Archives on topics that are close to my heart, and closely related to the PhD I’m working towards, which focuses on the artists and animators Jan Švankmajer and the Quay brothers (my areas of interest are art history – especially international Surrealism – and animation).  For more information, see here, and for a timetable, please see here (although please note that the film screening, of Švankmajer’s latest film Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010) is now going to take place on Wednesday at 6pm, in the Glasshouse.  It’s free, and all are welcome).

Each day I’m going to writing a short blog post to document what I’ve been working on.  Asides from running workshops, my main responsibilities in the archive this week include cataloguing material, recording screencasts and tutorials, preparing lesson plan packs, connecting materials to other resources (books, television programmes etc), and tagging.

So, I think that’s the basic intro done…on to my experience of the archive today!

Arriving at the archive I was immediately struck by how welcoming and quiet it is – the perfect space for students to get on with work uninterrupted.  I was joined today by Kerrie, an assistant curator at the Booth Museum in Brighton, so the morning started with Rebekah introducing Kerrie and I to the archive materials.  The majority of the archive is housed in a room at the back of the archive – there are 420 boxes in total, and numerous rolls of films and other miscellaneous objects.  A treasure trove for a researcher interested in animation and art history, like myself.

Kerrie and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in, so Rebekah took us through the cataloguing procedure.  For today, Kerrie will be cataloguing materials for a Bassett’s Jelly Baby advertising campaign, while I’ll be cataloguing materials from a Teletext advertising campaign involving ‘Horace the Hi-Tech Dog’.  Horace is lovely.  I’ve earmarked a box entitled ‘Fatty Doggy’ to work with next.

At 1pm the first of my workshop students began to arrive.  This afternoon’s workshop was themed around Wunderkammern (Cabinets of Curiosity).  I started off by introducing the students to the history of the Wunderkammer (including a few rather macabre images), and from there we moved on to a broader discussion around collecting: why people collect/what the difference between an archive and collection is/the psychology of collecting etc.  It was fascinating to hear students talk about their own collections, why they started them, and how they perceived them.  It would seem that in some ways we’re not so dissimilar from 16th-17th century collectors, after all!

Rebekah then briefly introduced us all to ImageBank – a great bit of software that’s used within UCA to catalogue and share images (including student work).

Here are a couple of images (thanks to Lorna for taking them)


The Wunderkammer Workshop in progress

Digital Camera

Kerrie in her element!


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