What’s in the Epsom Archive? Not just a Room of Dusty Old Books.

Not just a Room of Dusty Old Books.

As the archive room is relatively new at Epsom, tucked away near the equipment hire, it might not have surfaced on your radar. I thought I’d share with you some of our finds to entice you to visit us.

Leighton and I are Gateway Advisers by day but have volunteered to help in the Epsom archive room (as Rebekah Taylor the actual archivist is based in Farnham.) We open the room twice a week to students and staff and during that time have come across some real treasures.

For instance, who is this glamorous member of staff photographed on a Fashion Department outing to Ascot in 1962?

Espom School of Fashion staff

This is just one of the photographs and newspaper clippings lovingly preserved in a scrapbook covering 1961 to 1995. It’s a real insight into UCA Epsom through the ages. A brilliant place to start your research as there are examples of fashion through the ages, student unrest, politics, sexism…. It’s all there when you start to read.

Graphic design students may be interested to know that the archive room houses a vast collection of books published by ‘The Diagram Group’. If you are unfamiliar with their work, they specialise in detailed diagrams, charts, maps and illustrations. The group is also responsible for the hilarious ‘Diagram Award’ presented each year to the book with the oddest title. Awards in the past have been given to ‘Living with Crazy Buttocks’ in 2002, ‘Bombproof your Horse’ in 2004 and ‘Managing a Dental Practice: The Genghis Khan Way’ in 2010.

Not only do we have the books but all the original artwork and layouts. From ‘Card Games’ to ‘Early Man’, ‘the Sex Lives of Animals’ to ‘How to be a Success’!

Epsom Diagram Group How to be a Success

We have zines and artists’ books galore, some created by UCA staff, which are marvellous sources for fine art, illustration and graphics. We have student publications like ‘Jigsaw’ from 1976 created by 2nd year Communications Design students. Their brief was to create a newspaper each day for one week and they feature news, interviews, recipes, tips, cartoons and small ads.

For Royal family fans, there are copies of fragile, old newspapers from the 1930’s of King George V’s demise, King Edward’s abdication and the Coronation of King Edward VI. We have the 1953 edition of ‘The Times’ and the ‘Picture Post’ covering Queen Elizabeth’s coronation and the more recent Royal Wedding Souvenir of Charles and Diana.

There are a plethora of Victorian handwritten letters and postcards regarding Art school business. They are such wonderful examples of Victorian copperplate writing; unfortunately now a dying skill. This memo dates from 1896 and is just one of many acceptances to the opening ceremony of ‘The Epsom Technical Institute and School of Art’ in 24th July and shows beautiful penmanship.

Epsom handwritten

So why not give us a visit? We are open during term time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-3pm or by special request. Ask at the Gateway desk or email archives@ucreative.ac.uk.

Tiffany Gregory, Advisor, Library & Student Services, Epsom campus


UCA Epsom Artists’ Books collaboration with Epsom Public Library (Surrey Libraries)

UCA Epsom Library is collaborating with Epsom Public Library with Artist Books

UCA Epsom will be displaying their Artist Books at Epsom Public Library between April – May, and there will also be a talk from Graphic Design UCA Lecturer Mike Nicholson

This is a free but ticketed event. To book please see the Surrey Library webpage

Artist Book,  Common Senses, by Mike Nicholson

Artist Book, Common Senses, by Mike Nicholson

‘Artists’ books refers not to literature about artists nor to sculptures constructed from books but to works by visual artists that assume book form’.

‘An artists’ book may have images without words or narratives without images. It may assume sculptural form as a pop-up book or investigate the nature of the book format itself’. ‘Many artists working in other media turned to books as a form suited to expressing ideas too complex for a single painting, photograph or sculpture’.
Quote from Artspeak: a guide to contemporary ideas, movements and buzzwords.

This display is a selection of artists’ books from the University for the Creative Art’s library at the Epsom campus featuring books published by Four Corners Books, Weproductions, Book Works, Upper Playground, Analogue Books and includes self-published books. So far the collection spans 1987 to the present day.

The collection includes the award winning Illiers Combray by Helen Douglas and Zoe Irvine, and the wonderfully titled Three Songs and a Camper Van by John Bently (Liver and Lights No.36)

Of particular note is the Four Corners Books edition of Dracula with its yellow clothbound cover echoing the first UK edition – the designer, John Morgan utilized particular typefaces to denote diary entries, letters and newspaper cuttings to reinforce the different layers of storytelling.

The collection is intended to demonstrate the diverse and creative nature of artists’ books from the colour photocopied zine to fine laser cut work, to the lavishly produced. All have a unique view of the world and the information they represent. The collection is open to the public for reference use.

New Artist Book Exhibition, Beaney Museum, Canterbury

Image and Word

Image and Word, Artist Books display at the Beaney

Image and Word, Artist Books display at the Beaney

UCA Canterbury Library has put up a new exhibition of Artist Books, in the Beaney Museum, Canterbury

It is on Image and Word and features Artist Books relating to typography

This is to complement the new Beaney gallery display – Signs for sounds: contemporary lettering & calligraphy.

See the Beaney Museum’s page here

Visit all of UCA Canterbury Library’s Artist Books here

Monthly update on project progression

Artist Book,  Common Senses, by Mike Nicholson

Artist Book, Common Senses, by Mike Nicholson


New catalogues available are

The Kent Institute of Art and Design Publications Collection, consisting on annual reports, research projects and general prospectuses. Available on Archives Hub

The Kent Institute of Art and Design Student Union Archive, consisting of 1990s Student Council minutes. Please note that they may be susceptible to data protection. Available on Archives Hub

Medway College of Design Archive is available on Archives Hub

Bulletins, newsletters and staff minutes are currently being catalogued to the Farnham School of Art and West Surrey College of Art and Design.

Further detailed cataloguing is commencing on Medway College of Design student sketchbooks, and Canterbury College of Art and School of Architecture, Architectural magazine, CASA and the Epsom and Ewell School of Art and Technical Institute


Material has been boxed in acid free boxes, with melinex sleeves, brass paper clips.

Preservation workshops for staff will be taking place at all campuses through February – March

Listing and accessioning training

Listing and accessioning training have taken place for library staff. Newspaper indexes have been set up.

Policies and procedures

Guidelines for identification of special collections and rare books approved. A draft Preservation Policy to be available by April

Staff and student outreach

Talks ongoing with Fine Art and MA Curation, Canterbury

Collections Gems Seminar being arranged to tie in with National Library Week – to showcase rare books, Ed Ruscha American Artist and Photographer rare book collection, and items from Canterbury’s institutional archive

Internal exhibitions

Exhibitions and displays being set up around all five campuses of the Tessa Boffin Archive for LGBT Month February (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender)

External work

A proposal of a display of the history of Surrey Art Schools (Epsom, Guildford, and Farnham) accepted at Surrey History Centre. To take place August – September

Work ongoing with Epsom Public Library to display Artist Books April, with a lecturer from UCA giving a talk

Proposal to be submitted to the Kent History Library Centre for LGBT Month, February 2014

Work ongoing with heritage institutes in Canterbury

New Deposits

A collection of textile books from the 1980s, from the estate of Lynne Dennis, a previous member of the Embroiders Society

An archive and special collection relating to Working Class Artists in the 1980s-1990s, and women artists

Monthly update on project progression


All catalogues except Farnham School of Art are available on Archives Hub or online PDFs on http://community.ucreative.ac.uk/article/37587/Collections-and-Catalogues . More work is taking place on appraisal of digital images on CDs and of photographs, including graduation photographs. A fuller version of the Maidstone College of Art will soon be available


Acid free boxes, and preservation material including acid free folders, brass paper clips and polyester sleeves have arrived, and material in each campus is being re-housed with Epsom left to finish. Environmental conditions are being measured by dataloggers. Events regarding monitoring the environment, and regarding archival standards PD5454

See  http://community.ucreative.ac.uk/article/38296/Preservation to discover what preservation is and why it is so important

Preservation material

New deposits

The illustration department at Maidstone has deposited material which is due to be catalogued

Deposit at Maidstone from the Kent School of Printing showing types of  typography from the 1960s, due to be catalogued

Archival guidelines and policies

Special guidelines policy, determining what is a rare book and a special collection, and how to assess looked at in Collections Working group – to be formerly assessed and distributed on MYUCA designed to compliment the weeding policy

Archival cataloguing training booked at Canterbury and Maidstone for staff

Staff and Student outreach

Postdoctoral student interested in using collections to explore evening classes in the history of arts and crafts education

Freda Sack’s, typographer, Graphic Design images used in Graphic Design lectures

Internal exhibitions

Exhibition work for a Student Protest/Student Union on-going – digital and physical exhibition to be put in place by November

Travelling display of archive/special collection material to take place from the end of November

External collaboration

Kent – talks ongoing regarding exhibition of Tessa Boffin, LGBT photographer, and exhibitions for local history of Kent. Work on-going with Eastgate House, Rochester.

Surrey – Surrey History Centre is willing to undertake exhibitions – plans to take place for Guildford School of Art/Epsom School of Art exhibitions underwear. Currently organising to have a page on Exploring Surrey’s History website

Epsom- Epsom Library due to visit with potential of hosting artist books, and hosting workshops on the 7th December