Student Archive Workshop: Subjective and Objective Responses

I recently undertook a workshop with International Pathways students to work with them on their project ‘Archive Fever’.

This involved analysing archives or artefacts through a subjective and objective response. As part of their brief they had to answer the following questions

A subjective or more emotional response to an art stimulus that has affected you enough on a personal level for you to want to write about it. (1000 words)

A critical response to an artwork, artefact or archive that you would like to evaluate (1500 words). This will constitute the more objective ‘academic essay’

The workshop started off with asking students what they felt ‘subjective’ or ’emotional’ meant to them. We then looked at series of examples both from UCA archives, such as the Rethinking the body project and other archives and artists, such as the archives and artists website produced by Birmingham university.

Students were then asked to choose an item from the archives, namely the Bob Godfrey animation archive, and examples from our institutional archives, and look at the answering the following questions:

  • What does the image make you feel? (e.g.Happy/sad/confused/surprised/angry)
  • What part of the image stands out for you? What would you want to write about?
  • Draw (if you wish) part of the image that interests you and you’d want to talk about

For the latter part students focused in on a particular shape or colour of the item they used, looking, for example, at how they could utilise that image in their own work.

For example Ifueko used an image from the Bob Godfrey archive – drawings of buildings from an animation – Shakespeare Music Hall, and focused on in a particular shape that could be used in Interior Design

Ifueko Omoniyi

Myra looked at the textures and layers of strokes on an image of a tree


Other images included a remake from a student yearbook marking the end of Fine Art in Maidstone in the 80s. The image reminded the student of a dream

Student picture sent by Joanne

Other images by another student looked at tourists that were in Shakespeare Music Hall and scene structure. This is the interpretation.


For the objective essay part I asked the students ‘What is an objective response?’ and ‘What is a critical response?’. We looked at analysing how you might provide an objective response through looking at our archives. I asked them to look at an image, and write down what they would need to know to analyse that image. For example, who took the photo? What were the art movements at the time – did any inspire that image?

We finished up with looking at how you might access archives, and how you might access contextual information

Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer





3 thoughts on “Student Archive Workshop: Subjective and Objective Responses

  1. Pingback: The success of the ‘Archive Fever’ project – tomaszjohn

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