Reeling in Reels of Film

The Archives at Farnham are currently looking after over 400 reels of Film Reels produced by students by Film Production. These films date from the 1960s to the present day and consist of work from the University for the Creative Arts previous institutes prior to  including Guildford School of Art, Farnham School of Art, West Surrey College of Art and Design and Surrey Institute of Art and Design (for further information about our institution’s history see here )

Key issues here include determining the format (e.g whether it is the final print), the condition (films need to be kept in cold storage otherwise degradation occurs), whether we can view it. Stay tuned to the blog to keep an eye on our progress…

Film reels from the Animation Archive film reels 2 Lisa Moore, Digital Images Officer, with Film Reels of student work dating from the 1960s 4 Lisa Moore, Digital Imaging Officer, with film reels Lisa Moore, Digital Imaging  Officer, with film reels Lisa Moore, Digital Imaging Officer, with film reels


Preservation in the Archives

After attending a Care and Display of Archives workshop at the Natural History Museum, it seems timely to look at why  preservation in Archives and Special Collections is so important, and what can happen if correct environmental controls and correct packaging are not adhered to.


Preservation: Ensuring that material will not be damaged in the future, by controlling external influences

Conservation: Treating material after it is damaged. Conservators must try to make sure that the treatment is reversible.

Causes of Deterioration


  •  Incorrect handling (the greatest cause!)
  •  Incorrect storage, including staples and paperclips which rust, and make the paper vulnerable
  •  Fluctuation of temperature and relative humidity, which  causes material to expand and contract
  •  Heat – causes paper to be brittle
  •  Light – fading and discolouration
  •  Pests – including mice and woodworm, which cause holes and damage. Pests will be attracted by food and drink, and often the damp
  •  Humidity – high humidity causes mould and low humidity causes brittleness
  • Security


  •  Acidity – high acidity comes from lignin present in wood, which  breaks down the paper. Paper today is much more impure than earlier paper, which is far more likely to last the test of time.
  •  Foxing. Foxing are the brown spots that you can see on paper. This can be caused by the acidity of the paper, and outside conditions. As long as the material is readable this does not have to be removed.
  •  Iron gall ink – this ink causes degradation leading to browning. It is chemically unstable and can eat through paper. It was widely used in 20th century artwork

Ways to combat deterioration

  • Following environmental condition recommendations (13C-20C and Humidity 35-60 RH)
  • Acid free packaging
  • Brass papers (which do not rust) and melinex(chemically stable and inert) sleeves
  • Correct handling, including not leaning on the document and supporting the book by the spine
  • Use of pencils only
  • No food or drink
  • Ensuring books are correctly supported by book rests, of ideally inert foam

Monthly update on project progression


The Guildford School of Art Archive and the Epsom and Ewell Technical Institute and School of Art Archive have been catalogued and available on and


Preservation material including acid free folders, polyester sleeves, and acid free storage have been purchased


A Creative Commons licence has been signed for the potential digitisation of the student fashion workbook

New deposits

We are expecting a deposit related to Graphic Design, and a deposit related to the Kent School of Printing

Archival Guidelines

Guidelines for the appraisal/definition of special collections is currently being drawn up


Canterbury College will have a permanent exhibition of artists’ books in the Beaney Museum for the opening on the 5th September.

Meetings with various heritage institutes such as Epsom Library, Kent University Archives, and Canterbury Cathedral Archives are ongoing. Meetings with marketing in the university are ongoing.

Archives and Special collections website:

The Archives and Special Collections website is available on

A design for an invitation to a degree show

Monthly update on project progression

Every month I will be providing a brief update on the progression of the archives and special collections project so far


The Tessa Boffin archive, photographer, has now been catalogued and can be found online on Archives Hub. The Canterbury College archive has been catalogued and has been submitted to Archives Hub, and will hopefully appear live shortly. Progress is currently being made on the Medway College Archive, and the Epsom and Ewell School of Art and Design.

Prospectuses from Epsom

We have recently received archival cataloguing software, CALM, compliant to archival standards (International Standards for Archival Description), which will be used to catalogue our collections.

Recent deposits:

Rochester Campus has recently been gifted a student sketchbook, showing processes in design in fashion in the 1960s. It provides examples of different fabrics used, and different cutting techniques. It should be of great interest to staff and students.

Maidstone Campus has also received graduation photographs from the 1980s.


Part of the archives and special collections project will be to identify suitable material to digitise. The depositor of the student sketchbook at Rochester Campus has indicated he will be happy to provide permission for the digitisation of this valuable resource in the future

Archival guidelines:

Guidelines regarding cataloguing, appraisal and preservation have been drawn up, and will hopefully be available for staff to view shortly on MyUCA


Preservation needs of the collections have been assessed. Material will be purchased in the new financial year.


Increasing awareness of our collections means increasing awareness in the local community.

Canterbury College will have a permanent exhibition of artists’ books in the Beaney Museum for the opening in September.

Contact has been made with the other four campuses regarding connections for exhibitions in the local community.

Archives and Special collections website:

An archives and special collections website is currently in development. It will feature subject guides, details on the collections, including the special collections guides, and news and events.

A student art sketch book from the Medway College archive.


Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer