Highlighting Our History’s Diversity

LSS Archives & Special Collections needs you for Black History Month (October) and beyond…

Our archives & special collections celebrate diversity, looking at the history of curriculum in art schools, history of migration, refugees, and history of diversity in artistic works, such as Photography and books.

Diagram group - black history month, from history of africa 9
We are looking for students and volunteers (externally and internally)  who are interested in doing investigative work in our collections to develop online exhibitions, social media, such as blogs and infographics around our collections. We are particularly interested in highlighting how they can be linked to today’s issues, and how our collections can be interpreted artistically
Our collections include our art school heritage, with our records from art schools dating from 1889. They include minutes looking at diversity in curriculum. This directly links to UCL’s ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ project.

Epsom minutes - 90-94 monitoring 8

Epsom minutes, 1990s

Epsom minutes - 90-94 monitoring 7

We will, throughout black history month and beyond, be doing a series of blogs on our collections and diversity to get your creative juices flowing! We will be looking at the links between different historically marginalized groups. We will also be exploring controversial material.

We hold the original diverse artwork from The Diagram Group, dating from the 1960s, graphic design book publishers.
The Working Press, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996, aimed to help with publication of marginalized groups, including black artists, women artists, disabled artists, touching on identity, and migration.
We hold the Tessa Boffin archive, the first British lesbian to do work into AIDS as early as the 1980s, and her work contains material on stereotype and stigma

stereotype and stigma. jpg

The Bob Godfrey animation archive, Britain’s first Oscar winning animator, looks at stereotypes in Europe with the animation ‘Know Your Europeans’ and the history of UK in relation to diversity with animation such as ‘Great’ (1975) and ‘Millennium’ (1999)
If interested in getting involved you can reach us at archives@ucreative.ac.uk

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Tessa Boffin Research: ACT-UP – AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power

UCA Archives are pleased to have hosted volunteers from Photography at UCA. Josie and Fran talk about their research on the Tessa Boffin Archive

They are looking at publicity material and reviews surrounding the AIDS exhibition Ecstatic Antibodies

ACT-UP originated in America in 1987, the community built from people suffering from HIV and AIDS, also people who were related to people that had been killed by the disease, and even people unrelated to the disease but supportive of the movement.

Our first encounter with ACT-UP was from a letter Tessa Boffin had received from ACT-UP Manchester, handwritten and signed by ‘Andy’, with leaflets of information and some articles of their movements, what stood out for us was the P.S at the end of the letter, reading; ‘This letter is the truth, it is not a rather pathetic attempt at telling a load of fibs!!’ What one of the articles stated was that the group ACT-UP Manchester ‘did not exist when the exhibition was at York’, in America the group were at their peak, protesting various causes for their campaign in our opinion this exhibition and the struggles to show it made the group want to spread globally.

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The main reason ACT-UP got  involved with the exhibition was not because it had anything to do with politics but due to the fact that it wanted to raise peoples awareness of HIV and AIDS, ACT-UP state that ‘we are not that concerned with it (Section 28*). We are not a Lesbian and Gay organization, we are concerned with AIDS and HIV’. This reason was one of the main things that sparked the protests as people just thought the exhibition was sexualised toward the Lesbian and Gay community.

Another thing to add would be that ACT-UP Manchester included with the letter was their own ‘Action News’ in which they discuss their interview with Mr. Royston Footer**. This was when members of ACT-UP convinced him that they were reporters and to get to him to get an explanation of why he had cancelled the exhibition in Salford City’s Viewpoint Gallery, when asked why he Footer said “I decide what is appropriate for a local authority gallery”. When the ‘journalists’ would not let this go Footer realised that he was being recorded and he made an attempt to snatch the recorder from one of the activists and dragged him across the desk “if you print any of this I’ll…” ACT-UP used this for demonstration of the aggression thrown upon them when trying to display calmly.

After this interview the tape was given to Scene Out, which then allowed for the story to make it to Manchester Evening News, when this was seen Councilor Thomas, deputy chair of Saldford Council Arts and Leisure committee, declared that he was unaware the exhibition had been cancelled and then arranged to see Mr. Footer to discuss the situation.

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All in all, one thing that we noticed about ACT-UP was that the group didn’t want the protesting to go out of hand and get into situations that became political; their demonstrations seemed to rock up a fuss everywhere.

 If anybody is wanting to read up about a more in depth history of ACT-UP, we suggest you watching the film that was made; United in Anger: A History of ACT UP the film gives insight into some of the reasons people joined the community and showed the demonstrations they held. Here is a link to watch the film on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrAzU79PBVM

* Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988: The amendment stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

** Mr Royston Footer was part of Salford City’s Council.

Thank you for reading our post.

Josie Evans and Frances Jackson – Second Year Photography

Tessa Boffin Research- Council Accused of Censorship

UCA Archives are pleased to have hosted volunteers from Photography at UCA. Josie and Fran talk about their research on the Tessa Boffin Archive

They are looking at publicity material and reviews surrounding the AIDS exhibition Ecstatic Antibodies

Photocopy of a newspaper clipping on the exhibition Ecstatic Antibodies. Discussing the ideas behind the exhibition and the artwork. The article describes a few various reasons as to why the Viewpoint Gallery initially cancelled the exhibition, some of the thoughts towards the exhibition were actually that it was seen as pornographic due to various poses in some of the imagery, whether this was an understatement of the ideas behind the imagery or it could simply be a  light minded opinion of the art, it would still not be a reason for the exhibition to be cancelled.

IMG_4754

Denise Birkenshaw, Salford Council’s principle art officer (at the time), held an initial meeting with two gallery programmers, Jane Brake and Paul Brownridge, in reference as to whether the show should continue or not, their overall decision was cancellation, what was interesting about this factor was how the matter was not actually discussed with anybody else on the Council’s committee and it was basically and overall opinion of Birkenshaw herself, however some other articles discussed the fact that Royston Footer from the council committee cancelled the event. It was said that ‘Birkenshaw’s decision was influenced after discovering that when the exhibition was in York’s Impressions Gallery, one of the pictures was removed to an adults only area after the police request. Other than this there were no incidents.’

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A quote from the article said that ‘…a council spokesman gave the official reason that the show was “not suitable for a public gallery where young children might be”.’ this shows the conflict that the exhibition had with the council’s ideas of right and wrong. The idea that the imagery was not suitable to be shown in a ‘family gallery’ was slightly outrageous in the sense that the idea of Ecstatic Antibodies was to not horrify people, but to bring peoples attention to the matter and help the crisis, suggesting that maybe the younger generation should be able to view such things in the intentions of learning about such diseases and safer sex.

The majority of articles and opinions have actually been based on a single image, Tessa Boffin’s Angelic Rebels: Lesbians and Safer Sex, which shows two women embracing (fully clothed) with sex toys and various other objects on the floor, the article that we looked at taken from The British Journal of Photography actually captioned the image “Oral sex? Tessa Boffin thinks not”, suggesting that their views were that the image was sexually explicit. Tessa ‘told The British Journal of Photography: ‘A lot of the work as been badly misread… two women dressed as angels who end up embracing: they (Birkenshaw) said my work was about lesbians having oral sex… It’s about lesbians and safer sex’.’ The fact of the matter is that there was no communication, for something that was meant to speak out to the public about heath and disease it became about sex and the right to show the human body and their relationships.

Thank you for reading our post.

Josie Evans and Frances Jackson – Second Year Photography

Tessa Boffin Research – Public opinion based on one image from Ecstatic Antibodies

UCA Archives are pleased to have hosted volunteers from Photography at UCA. Josie and Fran talk about their research on the Tessa Boffin Archive

They are looking at publicity material and reviews surrounding the AIDS exhibition Ecstatic Antibodies

Public opinion based on one image from the overall exhibition

We are Josie and Fran and we have been working on the Tessa Boffin archive, listing and looking at the things that she had collected in connection to Ecstatic Antibodies: Resisting the AIDS Mythology. The book and exhibition launched with it represent and powerful exploration of both images and text of the AIDS crisis. The contributors disrupt the politically laden mythology of HIV and AIDS, and affirm the persistence of love and desire in the face of death.

Tessa Boffin, a photographer was the first British lesbian artist to produce photography work in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Together, she and Sunil Gupta curated the travelling exhibition Ecstatic Antibodies: Resisting the AIDS Mythology, and edited the accompanying book. Her Angelic Rebels: Lesbians and Safer Sex (1989), remains one of the most important photographic artworks to address AIDS from a lesbian perspective. Boffin was active in promoting the importance of lesbian photography, and in bringing it to a largely ignorant audience, she was able to mould it into a subtle language with which to articulate specific aspects of the lesbian experience generally erased in mainstream culture.

‘‘Homosexuality is an evasion/flight of difference.”

IMG_4796While looking into different items we came across what we thought was an article written about the exhibition, after reading it in further detail we realised that it was a letter that someone had written in to The British Journal of Photography. The following writings express some of the quotes we found interesting, ‘…bizarre sexual fantasies will merely reinforce the (supposed) popular misconceptions of the nature of AIDS’. We feel like this may have been kept to show the public’s view and the views that they themselves (Tessa Boffin and Sunil Gupta) thought that they would come across during this exhibition, seeing as most of the clippings that we have sorted through detail the fight that they had trying to get the show seen. In this letter his comments seem to portray an uneducated and unnecessary attitude towards the work of Ecstatic Antibodies; ‘Exhibitions of pretentious ‘artistic’ fooleries may have good publicity value, but will contribute nothing to the understanding of the disease.’ – seeing as most people that didn’t know the whole side and the purpose of the exhibition this was their main opinion, it was about sex and not about the story of the aftermath from various artists.

‘The militant sexual activists (of whatever predilection) may conduct business as usual under the banner of ‘safer sex’; there is no particular reason why the good people of Salford should be belabored with their theatricalities under the thin pretext of ‘AIDs awareness’, and no amount of exhortation to safer sex will necessarily result in saner sex.’ Martin describes the exhibition executives as ‘militant sexual activists’ which allows us to suspect that his opinion of the actual exhibition being put up is a way of protesting for sexuality, rather than the awareness of HIV and AIDS. A few other articles we read suggested similar ideas, that maybe the show did not display the right amounts of awareness for the HIV, AIDS and safer sex, however the majority of viewers did not go and see the show. The majority of the articles and pieces of writings we have looked at actually suggest the split of opinions, however the majority of positive views come from the gay and lesbian community, people suffering with HIV and AIDS or women, although this is just a brief first overlook it is something that stands to mind about the opinion of people who don’t fit these genres.

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After reading, it had become clear that Martin J Dobson knew about activity’s that had been going on with Salford Council and by the sound of what he had written into the magazine he was in agreement that it should not be shown, or at least been one of the many that they thought would complain about the nature of the exhibition. All this negativity was based off of one image, his response to this was this ‘My apologies to any contributors whose integrity I may have mistakenly impugned, obviously it is difficult to judge a complete exhibition from a single picture’. From this we believed that his apology was sincere – however it displays that he himself believes that his opinion was a judgment made too irrationally.

 Thank you for reading our post.

 Josie Evans and Frances Jackson – Second Year Photography

AIDS in Image: World AIDS Day

For Worlds AIDS Day on the 1st December, we are shedding a light on our resources in Archives and Special Collections, and how material on AIDS or the body and disease, can be used in your creative practice. You can find our archive catalogue on our website, and you can search for keywords such as AIDS or disease.

Tessa Boffin, undertook photography work around AIDS, in the 1980/90s, a terrifying time when the stigma of AIDS was just emerging, and the persecution of the LGBT communities in this regard was most notable, with backlash from the media. The adverts around AIDS at the time, including this advert highlight the terror around this.

Tessa Boffin co-curated an exhibition, Ecstatic Antibodies, with Sunil Gupta in 1990 which played an understanding in how image contributed to the AIDS crisis; the finished book  is available on our library catalogue

Ecstatic_Bodies

 

Her archive  shows the whole artistic journey related to her work with AIDS. of her original notes shows exactly where she got her inspiration from, relating to the persecution of LGBT communities via the media. Her carefully articulated notes document different media forms and how they portray LGBT communities, and AIDS, such as radio and television, with the name and date of the programme. After providing a summary of the media, she analyses the material to see how it can be used in her own artistic practice.

Coursework regarding her AIDS work

Coursework regarding her AIDS work

 

Her study notes also use religious imagery, including images of Martyrs, and her work Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune: AIDS and the Body Politic, also references Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Her archive also includes reviews on Ecstatic antibodies.

We also have the archives from our previous 6 art schools, which includes student magazines, which highlight attitudes to LGBT issues, and safe sex, with one magazine with the front cover on AIDS.

So how can material on AIDS in the 1980s be used for Creative Practice today? Well one of the areas is theoretically to look at the social commentary related to this practice :-

how does the media’s voice differ from the 80s -90s? Does it? What do differing newspapers say? Why do they have that perspective?

What are the attitudes to safe sex then and now?

Is image and disease still a key area in Creative Arts? Why do you think that image and Disease works?

Look through the images related to AIDS in our archive.  What significance regarding the colour? Why are there allusions to Shakespeare?

The topic of persecution

Practice based creative work has also be created in relation to AIDS work. Recently first year Fashion Promotion students created responses to Tessa Boffin’s archive, in an exhibition entitled Stolen Glances, after a book by Tessa Boffin and Jean Fraser.  This was done as a homage to her, looking at her technique.

Another way of looking at this, is ‘then and now’- would these 1980s/90s images fit in today’s setting? How would you interpret them?

To find more about our AIDS archives, you can access our catalogue on our website, and search for ‘AIDS’. Alternatively you can email us at archives@ucreative.ac.uk for 1-1 tutorials. We can also advise on other AIDS collections and archives.

For further inspiration take a look at library books in our library catalogue on AIDS

 

Stolen Glances Exhibition: UCA, Rochester, UK

Stolen Glances
Zandra Rhodes Gallery, UCA Rochester
From 15th September to 18th October, 2014
Opening reception on Thursday 25th September, 5:30-7:30pm
A creative collaboration between Beige magazine, BA Hons Fashion Promotion students and the UCA archive.A provocative fashioned response to the photographic work of KIAD (Kent Institute of Art & Design) lecturer Tessa Boffin, which addressed issues of sexual identity and the representation of the LGBT community in the 1980s and 90s

Stolen Glances comes from the book – Stolen Glances: Lesbian Photography Anthology by Tessa Boffin 1991.

This exhibition is part of a larger initiative to explore LGBT issues within the creative arts.

Work is commencing on a further exhibition/conference for September 2015 in UCA Canterbury, influenced in part by this Stolen Glances exhibition.
cropped-lgbt-representations-header.jpgThe exhibition soundtrack has been composed by Music Technology students from MidKent College inspired by their response to the UCA archive and refashioned images.

Archive and Rare Book of the Month, February 2013

Old Dutch Town and Villages, 1901 Old Dutch Town and Villages, 1901

Rare Book of the Month

February’s Rare Book of the Month is Old Dutch Towns and Villages of the Zuiderzee, 1901. With decorative woodcuts, zincograph reproductions and architectural references this will be of interest to interest to architects, fine artists, printers and historians alike. To access the rare book and previous rare books see It is currently located in Farnham Library.

Archive of the Month

The Sailor and the Showgirl Project, Tessa Boffin Archive Reference BOFF/1/2/1

The ‘Sailor and Showgirl’ is a photography project regarding safe sex, cross dressing, and playing around with gender roles.

The project is one where a ‘sailor’ (seeming to be a woman dressed as a man), propositions a ‘showgirl’, but the showgirl makes it very clear that the use of condoms must take place. This is significant as the 1980s saw the advancement of AIDS, very new and frightening.

Photographs of the project, paper drawn strips, and captions detail the story of the Sailor and Showgirl, with evocative and strong language. Handwritten and printed captions also tell of a work in progress

The Tessa Boffin Archive can be accessed at Maidstone Campus

Travelling Exhibition

UCA Library is undertaking  a travelling exhibition of material from our special collections throughout all the campuses

Rochester is sending out 1950s prospectuses and student sketchbooks from the 1950s specialising in a variety of art and design. They are interesting for the history of  Medway College of Design, history of Art classes, including graphic design work, lithography, cut wood engraving, lettering, fabric printing and trends and popularity in art and design in the 1950s

At Farnham 26th November – 7th January

At Maidstone 7th January-4th February

At Epsom 4th February-4th March

At Canterbury 4th March – 1 April

 

Rochester Student Sketchbook

 

Maidstone is sending a selection of material from the Tessa Boffin Archive and Personal Library

 

Tessa Boffin, was an 1980s photographer, specialising in sex and sexual fantasy

 

1)    Technical Photography Instruction, 1984

This include instructions for working with film photography in the 1980s and information regarding how Boffin would portray different adverts.

 2)    Income Book, 1991-1992

Income and expenditure book relating to what items she required for photography, exhibition space required and petty expenses

 3)    Coursework Book, 1985-1986

Contains notes and photocopies of photographs relating to The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune: AIDS and the Body Politic and Next…Quarantine The Disease of the Soul/Panic. Includes images of newspaper articles in the 1980s relating to AIDS and safe sex, and lesbianism, images from Derek Jahrman, religious imagery, and her own handwritten notes

 4)    Photography prints related to her work The Slings and Arrow of Outrageous Fortune: AIDS and the Body Politic, helping highlight perceptions towards AIDS in the 1980s

 5)    Postcard from Marc Almond, from Soft Cell, 1980s

A letter from Marc Almond, with an image of him on the front, agreeing to pose for Tessa Boffin

 6)    A selection of books from her personal library, some annotated and one with a letter, providing context to her work

At Epsom 26th November – 7th January

At Canterbury 7th January – 14th February

At Rochester 14th February -4th March

At Farnham 4th March – 1st April

 

Coursework regarding her AIDS work

Canterbury is sending Canterbury Architectural Student Association Journals

 

Provides information on…

 

Graphic Design and drawings

Visual images from the 1940s, and drawings of buildings inside journals

Reports on historical architecture, including Roman architecture

Kent and England architecture

  • Includes some drawings/sketches

Architecture in Kent from the 1940s-1960s

‘As a college we are singularly insensitive to our environment. Over the past few years we have seen the systematic murder of that whole area of this city between Burgate Street and George’s Street‘ (CASA 1960s)

Family history

  • Student reports detail students and lecturers names

Student Activity

  • Information on the Student Union
  • Reports of student trips, and activities, including reports on architecture abroad
  • Reports of student sport and social activities
  • ‘On Saturday…1947… a group of… students congregated at ‘Georges’ to consume a flagon of “pig’s ear”‘ (CASA 1948)
  • Visits to exhibitions
  • Creative writing regarding architecture, and other works from students

 

At Rochester 26th November – 7th January

At Farnham 7th January – 4th February

At Maidstone 4th February – 4th March

At Epsom 4th March-1 April

 

CASA 1957

 

Farnham is sending Guildford School of Art Photography, and Book binding and Printing Prospectuses

Provides Information on

–         History of Art Schools

–         History of the Guildford School of Art

–         History of Photography, Bookbinding and Printing

–         Graphic Design and Art interest with visual covers

At Maidstone 26th November-4th January

At Epsom 4th January – 7th February

At Canterbury 4th February – 4th March

At Rochester 4th March -1 April

Epsom is sending prospectuses from the Epsom and Ewell School of Art and Technical Institute, 1930s onwards

Provides information on

–         History of Art Schools

–         History of the Epsom School of Art and Technical Institute

–         History of Art School classes including Art and Design, Architecture, Women’s Crafts

–         Graphic Design and Art interest with visual covers

At Canterbury 26th November – 7th January

At Rochester 7th January – 4th February

At Farnham 4th February – 7th March

At Maidstone 7th March – 1 April

Epsom prospectuses from 1925

 

 

Tessa Boffin archive catalogue online

The archive of Tessa Boffin, photographer who worked in the 1980s, has now been catalogued.  She specialised in sex, sexual fantasy,Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender issues, and looked at the portayal of AIDS, including AIDS in the media. Her archive also sheds light into the technical side of photography

It can be accessed online on Archives Hub at http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb3094boff.

Of note include her technical books on photography, her project books where Boffin analyses the media on topics such as AIDS, feminism, homosexuality, cross-dressing, for inspiration for photography ideas, her project work on ‘The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune: AIDS and the Body Politic’, and her project ‘The Sailor and the Showgirl’, which explores cross-dressing, gender, and safe sex.

The biographical information of her life is as follows:

Tessa Boffin was born 24 December 1960. She was a lesbian photographer, writer, editor, and performance artist. Her work was at the front-line of international queer culture and politics. She initially studied photography in the mid 1980s at the Polytechnic of Central London, under the tutorship of Simon Watney. She undertook an MA in Critical Theory at the University of Sussex in 1987-1988.

Her teaching was as a part time photography lecturer at Adult Education, London from 1986 to 1987, worked at Oxford Polytechnic,1987 and 1989, worked at West Surrey College of Art and Design from 1988, Polytechnic of Central London, 1990, Kent institute of Art and Design from 1990.

She edited Ecstatic Antibodies in 1990 with Sunil Gupta, and co-curated the exhibition, which contributed to understanding of the role images played in the AIDS crisis, and in 1991 edited Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs, with Jean Fraser, which is contemporary lesbian photography. She was the first British lesbian doing political work around AIDS as early as 1985.

She died on 27th October 1993, while working as a lecturer at the Kent Institute for Art and Design

Tessa Boffin was a remarkable woman, and her archive sheds an evocative light of the portrayal of LGBT issues in the 1980s.

Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer