Re-mixing archives at UCA

I did a short session with BA Media Communication students for their project , which is to explore remix culture, and to create a remixed video.

Remix can be described as utilising already existing material, such as found footage, old images and remixing/’mashing’ them together – archival images out there (copyright permitting of course!), are ideal to utilise.

Why remix? Why remix with archives? Archives allow you to re-imagine historical events through different perspectives, highlight the voices of those marginalised, such as Zoe Leonard’s and Cheryl Dunye’s fictional character Fae Richards, African-American actress born in the early 20th century 

Re-mixing archives allow you to explore areas such as nostalgia – looking at new build up of towns/previous landscape, or comparing different areas landscape in art schools.

Remixing archives can provide contemporary spins and twists on the archive – particularly useful for Creative Writing for example how would a personality of a Anarchist in the 1980s react to political issues today?

Take a look at some of our images for remix here


Rebekah Taylor, Archivist

Canterbury archive

Faith Cannon, remixing archives of UCA’s art schools


Freewheelers Inclusive Theatre Group

On 11th February we were lucky enough to have Chris (film director) and and Matthew (actor) from the Freewheelers Inclusive Theatre Group come over to talk about their work, and screen some plays- the Matthew James Experience. Freewheelers are based in Leatherhead, Surrey, and have recently celebrated their 25th anniversary.

‘Freewheelers are pioneers of a new and inclusive language for theatre. We work with disabled and non-disabled artists using theatre, dance, film, music and animation.’

We have been working with Freewheelers regarding their archive, and it was great to hear more from people involved in this fantastic company.


Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer



Exploring an LGBTQ Library

As part of the Tessa Boffin (photographer specialising in sex and sexuality in 1980s/90s) archive, we also hold her extensive  personal library which is accessible on the library catalogue.The collection is held in our Rochester campus and is available to view for reference only.

Personal libraries of artists are illuminating in terms of what inspired different projects, and what was of interest. The annotations and notes within the collections, highlight what was particularly important to Tessa.

It is also interesting to see the types and range of material that inspired this artists’ work – including fairy tales, the theatre, philosophy and psychology.

As well as highlighting interesting aspects into an artist’s personality and work, a personal library can also highlight the varied ways you can take inspiration from. This can also be relevant for creative writing, as you could devise your own fictional character from the types of material they keep…


Bookshelf shot 3Andromache - Theatre book with notesAndromache and notesBookshelf shot 2

Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer

Girls on Film

As I continue to work my way through the UCA film collection I’m discovering more interesting subjects and themes. The films viewed this week have covered subjects as diverse as disability, education, tourism, motor racing and brewing beer. One of the things I find so fascinating about archive film is its ability to communicate the social and political preoccupations of that period. As a modern day viewer it’s not only the fashions, cars and lifestyles that seem outmoded but also the social and political viewpoints and in this context for example the way women are represented in some of the films.


The 1970s could not be seen as a high point for the depiction of women on film. Laura Mulvey’s seminal essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975) argued that classical Hollywood cinema positioned the woman as the subject of “the male gaze”, there to be looked at and little else. Although we are not discussing Hollywood cinema here this certainly rings true in the depiction of women in some of the films I have viewed. “A Seasonal Matter”, a film about the struggling Devon resort town of Ilfracombe, uses saucy British postcards in its credits sequence showing women in various risqué situations on the beach very much for the titillation of men. In “Fresians of the Future”, a travelogue capturing a student trip to France and Spain, attractive women and their body parts are very much the focus as the camera captures the beautiful sites of the countries visited. “The Incredible Shrinking Existence of Norman Clough” is a fictional story about roommates Rod and Norman. Rod is a lothario who treats women as conquests and Norman is hopeless around girls and needs Rod’s help to “pull”. When they go out on a double date Norman inevitably messes everything up and when one of the girls says she wants to enter politics he is condescending.

Viewing these films from a modern day perspective greatly alters how the films are appreciated and what it is about the films that make the viewer take notice even if it was not the original intention of the film maker. I look forward to seeing what else I uncover in the coming weeks.


Carryl Church – Assistant/Film Archivist

Stour Valley Arts Archive at UCA

We have been fortunate enough to acquire the fantastic archive of Stour Valley Arts, now located at the library of UCA Rochester.

Stour Valley Arts was a public arts organisation primarily operating in Ashford, Kent. It
commissioned a range of public art works in King’s Wood, engaging the public in art through the context of the ancient woodlands, operated by the Forestry Commission.

The collection spans some 22 years of work up until 2015. It contains information regarding the commissioning of exhibition projects, where artists
being commissioned include UCA lecturers, past and present.

Material includes visitor books, publicity, educational material, funding bids, trustee minutes, business plans, photographs, documentation on construction of exhibition, and objects designed from the exhibition. The collection has particular strengths in relation to public arts and art development within East Kent.


Cataloguing is currently commencing, and will be made available on our online catalogue. We look forward to blogging about different aspects of this exciting archive!


Make Believe Series 7

Stereotype and Stigma: 1991 Conference Challenging Stereotypes

3For LGBT Month February 2016 I will be blogging about key LGBT aspects from our collections, particularly focusing on stereotypes and perception of LGBT communities in the 80s/90s by the mainstream.

This post focuses on a conference in 1991 – Stereotype and Stigma – held at the University of Kent in Canterbury, and organized by iris and the Centre of Modern Cultural Studies UKC-  this was a day forum exploring issues ‘concerning censorship, social control, national identity and sexuality in art and popular culture’. Speakers included:

  • Elizabeth Cowie, Professor at the University of Kent, looking at desire for the real in photography, and looking at difference and other, exploring areas such as disability, sexuality, migration
  • Steve Mayes, looking at censorship and control in the British Media
  • Lola Young (West Polytechnic, lecturer in Film Studies), looking at race and mental illness, and how this is linked in the film The Telephone with Whoopi Goldberg
  • Andy Medhurst (Cultural Gender Studies, Sussex University), looking at masculinity
  • Tessa Boffin (Photography, Kent Institute of Art and Design), on Lesbians Take Photographs, linked to her co-edited book and exhibition Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs, looking at representations of lesbians in photographs
  • Anna Fox (Photography,  now at University for the Creative Arts) looking how stereotyping was impetus behind her work, and how documentary photography could have greater political strength

What is particularly interesting regarding the conference is the way that as stereotypes is explored with various traditionally  marginalized groups, it recognizes that one aspect cannot be taken in isolation – for example an experience of a black lesbian may differ from a white lesbian.


Documentation about this conference comes from the Tessa Boffin archive – photographer specializing in sex and sexuality and LGBT studies in the 1980s/1990s. Our archives consist of a range of formats, and we hold the VHS documenting the full conference. As this conference is linked to Stolen Glances -Lesbians Take Photographs, the book and exhibition co-edited by Tessa Boffin and Jean Fraser, you can view press clippings regarding the conference, images that appear, and visitors comments regarding the exhibition linking to Boffin’s talk.

View the catalogue here and contact us to see the collection




Volunteering in the archives- MA Fashion

Volunteering experience of Lorna Harrington, alumni of UCA
As an MA Fashion student and volunteer at the Feminist Library, starting
to work with the UCA archives has been an exciting project.
I have been able to see first-hand at the Epsom campus how the art school has changed over the years through looking at past prospectuses as well as minute books. This has made me start to consider whether the art school is a feminist space, a topic I hope to explore while volunteering at the archives.
I have also had the opportunity to visit UCA Farnham where I was able to look at some of the Tessa Boffin archive and the zine collection. These were of specific interest to me, due to my studies in to feminism and my post graduate studies which have so far focused on creating my own zines and planning an exhibition.
The Tessa Boffin archive, is a collection of personal papers including hand
written notes belonging to former staff member and photographer Tessa Boffin. Part of the collection included her research for a proposed exhibition on a Billboard
which focused on a real life news story surrounding the alleged rape of a young woman by a member of her own sex pretending to be a man. Also included is the project proposal which really gives insight into what goes in to putting on an exhibition.
The zine archive includes a wealth of material and is certainly an inspiration to anyone thinking about creating their own, both in terms of content ideas as well as presentation.
I had the pleasure of looking at The Hissterics a zine created in 2001 by feminist artist Rachael House. Interestingly, since visiting the archives I have met Rachael who
was both a performer and stall holder at The Feminist Library winter fair.
From this meeting I was able to acquire three more of her zines;
C(o)unterculture–women’s land and Red hanky panky issues eight and nine. As part of my volunteering I hope to write a small guide giving an overview of Rachael House’s zine for those using the archive.