Creating a research guide on ‘Working Class Women’

Below is our volunteer Lorna’s description relating to her work creating research guides. You can access Lorna’s research guide here

Last week, I visited the Farnham archives to create a research guide on the topic of working class women as part of my volunteering. This topic was of particular interest to me due to my own involvement in feminism, both academically and through volunteering at the Feminist Library.

For this task, I was looking through the Working Press archives which features correspondence, newsletters and mailing lists concerning working class women writers between 1986 and 1996 created or collected by Stefan Szczelkun.

Going through the archive, I noticed recurring themes, individuals and institutions which will enable those using the guide to find further information surrounding the topic without having to read the entire archive. By referencing specific events, individuals and inst­­­itutions within the documents, users will be able to easily research the area in more depth by using key terms instead of general terms such as feminism, class and protest.

For researchers, being able to see these pieces together in the context of an archive, gives an added value to the material, in terms of the information they can gain from them. In this way it is easier to see changes within a time period as well as make links between individuals and institutions.

When choosing what items should be mentioned within the guide, I tried to look for material that summed up both the working class and female element of the research guide. This was mainly selecting writing that was either about women or from the view point of a woman.­­

Secondly I chose items that had a particular resonance with myself, as someone who had both an interest and knowledge of the topic. For example, I included items that referenced Greenham Common as I have met individuals who were at the camp.

From writing the guide, I was able to reacquaint myself with topics that interest me. Also I was able to see the archives from both the view of a volunteer as well a researcher, gaining an insight into how to make the archives more accessible and useful to those using them for research.

Lorna Harrington, volunteer







Building a Better World Creative Residency-Student Statements

The Building a Better World Creative Residency, has artist in residence Stefan Szczelkun at the fore, creator of the Working Press Archive. The residency is to explore the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996, and respond to the collection artistically. The Working Press, which contains correspondence, conference material, publicity, the published book collection (some annotated) and pamphlets and zines collected by Stefan, looks at  difficulties of marginalized groups being published, funding difficulties, and intersectionalities between class, gender, race, nationality and disability. The archive also questions what class actually is-what makes someone working class?

You can find an introduction to the archive is here

Below are examples of some student statements. Interviews from Susan and Tom are available here
Tom Ridgway, BA photography,Year1, inspired by a leaflet related to disability representation. In Class, Culture and Identity conference file
Archive Project : Mail Art asking for an image from childhood to subject
s to gain access to their stories and build an exhibiton.
Poor Dear [leaflet relating to disability],  a leaflet in the working press archive (WPA) was the trigger for my idea. Which developed through looking at reports about the͞
Life Beyond The Label exhibition (Colchester castle 2007-8) [looking at disability representation] into my exhibition of how we choose to represent our own identity by looking at childhood memories and upbringing, provided by people in response to a mail art request to a shortquestionnaire. This collection that I have gathered results into a display of prints with text as well as the combination of a book including documents and information gathered and collected from the subjects. The WPA is a truly amazing collection and has really inspired me with my own work. The extent and broad paths that things can be gathered from is mesmerising and it truly has confirmed the path I want to follow as my career [Archivist].
Susan Merrick, MA Fine Art. Using the annotated Conspiracy of Good Taste book, and inspired by the themes of identity, language and power

During this residency I am responding to the Working Press archive as a whole. The substance of the archive is for me as important as the premise for it. I am considering some of the themes and issues raised by the artists who worked with and were represented by the Press and how we see these themes and issues today over twenty years later.

The main themes I am considering are Identity, Language and Power and the mediums I am choosing to use are photography and location specific performances.

Initially I am using a Facebook blog and Instagram to disseminate my photographs and my thoughts on the themes. I have created a gif for The Conspiracy of Good Taste and I am sending out two pieces of mail art as a live exhibition and will also show the pieces that I receive in return as part of the exhibition. I will also be using one of the photographs from my blog to create a life size cut out of myself as an installation piece reflecting the culmination of my residency. This piece will be used for the exhibition but I would also like to place it in some significant locations (probably in London) and photograph these. This will be a continuing work for me.

Reactivating the Working Press archives has in turn reactivated my own sense of identity and my acknowledgment of being a working class woman artist. There is much to discuss on the issue of class; relevance, fluidity, identification or stigma, limitations and freedom. But as any artist (in my opinion) needs to consider their own perceptions and where these come from, owning your own identity is a huge part of this. Twenty years on the Working Press has a great deal to offer artistically, academically and historically and the considerations of the writers in this Press need to be disseminated much further, especially in relation to Building a Better World.

Iana Mizguina, Photography , inspired by a pamphlet, Random Access Memory Raids
My project is based on working with a ‘Random Access Memory Raids’ pamphlet found in Working Press archive. This is an agitational left wing booklet made by Conscious Collective in early 90s. My work would contain quotes and phrases from this pamphlet, as I find most of the messages still relevant nowadays. Text will be used as a part of collage, that will also include random screenshots made on my phone. Final images will be modified in Photoshop and replicate visual content that can be seen on any mobile phone screen. Images will be disturbed by certain phrases from the booklet, replacing original meaning with another. Final stream of images will be displayed as a digital slideshow and represent the on going search for truth. Also work will include QR code taking viewers to a link where images can be seen and possibly edited
Catinca Malaimare, Fine Art, inspired by Class, Myths and Culture book (published by Working Press)
In the work produced in response to the Working Press Archive I am referencing the illusion of glamour and the self-scrutiny it attracts as presented in 52 Glamour Cards (Class, Myths and Culture). Glamour is a form of visual persuasion, it is cultural and thus,
deceptive. Glamour, as visual activity, forces the eye into a compliant gaze constructed by repetition and the absence of it leaves the eye without purpose, forced into chaotic repetition.

Katharina Becker, Photography, inspired by Postcards from Poland

(published by Working Press)

Response to: Postcards from Poland by MARIA JASTRZEBSKA and JOLA SCINCINSKA


Your visual/conceptual strategy: Combining some bits of the text from the book ‘Postcards from Poland’ with images of Palestine and the current situation of occupation. Uncommented comparison between the two, how the texts strangely fits with the situation in Palestine (images). -> Text and Image

Display and dissemination strategy: Haven’t really decided on a way of presentation, I still have to experiment with different presentation types. I might print the images as postcards and put bits of the text on the back. I would also find it interesting to hear someone reading the text.

Your impressions, opinion and reaction to the Working Press Archive: I have never worked with an archive before, so it was very interesting for me to look through all the documents and to get access to a lot of different stories and opinions. It is a very sensitive and considered way of working. Making something new with something that is already there and to respond to it. Combining different opinions and perspectives.  Especially the book ‘Postcards from Poland’ which I am referring to in my project, really inspired me in many ways. It reminded me of my own family history and made me also think of the current situation in Palestine. It will be interesting to see how everyone activated or responded to the Working Press Archive. And the fact that it will grow even more through this workshop is amazing.

Yomi, Illustration

Posters from the anticopyright Flyposter book from the archives, which I used as a visual resource,inspires the image on the t-shirts.

When I was working on Creative Writing for my illustration I was looking a
t different film genres with the visual scenery from Classic film from the 1950s.
People may assume the solder is a man but I have used a silhouette, which could be
any gender or nationality.The solitary word “story” invites the viewer to decide what the image actually means.
Annie and Elodie, Photography
Inspired from records from the Class, Culture and Identity conference, related to middle class, working class mothers, they produced a performance piece, related to multiple identities
 Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer

Building a Better World – Day 4, 5, 6

The Building a Better World Creative Residency, has artist in residence Stefan Szczelkun at the fore, creator of the Working Press Archive. The residency is to explore the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996, and respond to the collection artistically. The Working Press, which contains correspondence, conference material, publicity, the published book collection (some annotated) and pamphlets and zines collected by Stefan, looks at  difficulties of marginalized groups being published, funding difficulties, and intersectionalities between class, gender, race, nationality and disability. The archive also questions what class actually is-what makes someone working class?

You can find an introduction to the archive is here

The last three days of the residency involved further research, in terms of which part of the archive students were responding to. It also involved, where relevant, the digitisation of the item. Students were introduced to the UCA Digitisation Unit, and scanning equipment  for archival material.

Stefan also undertook a short talk, highlighting the relevancy of class today, and drawing attention to different articles, such as the BBC article ‘Construction workers win payouts for “blacklisting”‘ and articles relating to boarding schools and leaders. Relevant music related to class can be heard here

Students also undertook a GIF workshop with one of the participants, looking at how to bring the archive and their work to life
This included an animated GIF by Fine Art student Susan Merrick of Stefan’s book
Susan GIF


Students have now produced work, and/or and are on the way to producing work

Two of the students videos about the creative residency are available here

Tom screenshot

Results of the project mean:

  • Students now have explored ways of using art within the archives, and have work to showcase for their CV
  • Learned about different ways to present work GIFs
  • As a result of the project the archives have 2 volunteers, one of which is interested in becoming an archivist
  • Students have learned more about aspects of class and activism, and explored how understanding of the past can contribute to the present

Next steps include:

  • Creating a pamphlet, including quotes from the students
  • Developing an exhibition of the work


Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer

Building a Better World – Day 2 and 3

The Building a Better World Creative Residency, has artist in residence Stefan Szczelkun at the fore, creator of the Working Press Archive. The residency is to explore the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996, and respond to the collection artistically. The Working Press, which contains correspondence, conference material, publicity, the published book collection (some annotated) and pamphlets and zines collected by Stefan, looks at  difficulties of marginalized groups being published, funding difficulties, and intersectionalities between class, gender, race, nationality and disability. The archive also questions what class actually is-what makes someone working class?

An introduction to the Working Press archive is available here


The two days involved artists Stefan, and David Moore. It included finding  about the participants, and any previous experience with archives they may have had. It included introducing participants to the Working Press, including showcasing the Working Press publications, which is on the library catalogue, which also included an annotated book, The Conspiracy of Good Taste. The unpublished material, such as letters, conference material, posters, can be accessed on the archive catalogue

Items that I drew to participants attention included records from the Culture, Class and Identity conference, and correspondence, and mail art,  from the collection. I also highlighted a selection of zines and pamphlets donated by Stefan collected at the same time as the Working Press.

Ideas included developing projects based on the idea of class and identity, and what being working class actually means – is it a question of financial means? Questions also included what does being a working class artist mean? Other ideas included directly adapting posters relating to a political message, and also developing the idea of mail art. One student, Susan Merrick, from Fine Art has started a blog, looking at charity shopping and class



We are looking forward to see what the students produce!

Creative residency



Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer


Building a Better World – Artist in Residence, Day 1

The Creative Residency or Artist in Residency, is an initiative s internally funded by the University for the Creative Arts, and initiated by bookRoom, With Emmanuelle Waeckerle  and Rebekah Taylor .  Building a Better World, involves artist Stefan Szczelkun,as the artist in residence, and the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, 1986-1996. Stefan, who is the co-founder of the working press, leads workshops along with lecturers ( Emmanuelle Waeckerle  , David Moore, Ellen Nolan), and the archivists (Rebekah Taylor, Carryl Church). Students interact with the Working Press archive, books by and about working class artists, discuss themes within the collections, and with tutorials from lecturers, produce artwork in inspiration to the collection. Work produced will be added to the archive, and made available on UCA’s Image Bank.

The first part of the Creative Residency was a study day, involving artists that have worked with archives, including Peter Kennard. Discussed by our Assistant Archivist, Carryl Church… (you can also find a review on bookRoom’s website)

A video introduction to the Working Press archive is available here

Last week I had the pleasure of filming the Creative Residency day “Building a Better World” and listening to some very inspiring talks from artists and archivists in relation to how archive material can inspire creativity.

Peter Kennard: Peter Kennard is a photomontage artist and Senior Research Reader in Photography, Art and the Public Domain at the Royal College of Art. He began his career as a painter but realised the medium of photomontage could be more effective in getting his art out into the world at street level. His most famous photo montage is Haywain with Cruise Missiles created in 1980 in response to the rising tensions around the cold war. He has created work for organisations such as Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Amnesty International. His talk gave us a fascinating insight into his work as a means of political protest culminating in his current exhibition at the Imperial War Museum Peter Kennard: Unofficial War Artist.


Peter Kennard

Stefan Szczelkun: Stefan works on the MA in Visual Culture at the University of Westminster. Stefan’s interest in publishing led him to set up “Working Press, books by and about working class artists” a fascinating collection of books, pamphlets and zines published between 1986 and 1996 which we hold in the UCA archives. Stefan talked about his work both with the Working Press and his interest in multimedia, digital video and cinema. He also talked about a collaborative project called AgitDisco, a multimedia project which he devised and co-ordinated made up of CDs of playlists of protest music chosen by friends and associates. A book of the playlists was published in 2011. Stefan is the Artist in Residence for this creative residency and it is material from the Working Press Archive which will be used to inspire students to produce their own creative response.


Stefan 2.png

Rebekah Taylor: Our very own Archivist and Special Collections Officer took us through the definitions of an archive, gave us an insight and examples into the Working Press Archive and talked about how archives can play a central role in the inspiration and creation of artists work.

Rebekah 2.png

Rebekah 1.png

David Moore: The Archive and autonomy: David Moore is a London based photographer and lecturer at UCA. His talk focused on his book published in 2013 “Pictures from the Real World” which was in relation to the work he produced for his degree show 25 years earlier. This approach to that archive has led on to other work. His interest is in an approach to the archive and how it can be effective in a variety of institutional ways and understood within a political context. An archive of work being resurrected and how the forces of politics and technology can alter ones reading of the original work. A reinterpreting of the archive.

David 1.png

Ellen Nolan: Ellen is Lecturer in Photography at UCA. She talked about her experiences working with her Great Aunt Nita’s archive. Nita was signed to Paramount Pictures in 1933. Her archive brings together two interesting perspectives, photographs shot by her mother from early childhood through adulthood and film and publicity material from Paramount Pictures. The archive also includes personal correspondence and diaries. Ellen talked through material from the collection.

Ellen 1.png

Overall a fascinating insight into different perspectives of how archives can inspire and influence new works of art.

Carryl Church

Assistant Archivist

Working Press (Working Class Artists) Archive and Special Collection

Working Press 1994 conference posterThe Working Press Archive and Special Collection was recently donated and purchased from Stefan Szczelkun.

It consists of the self published books of the Working Press, the correspondence and financial material from the Working Press archive, and related Artist Books and pamphlets that inspired the Working Press

The Working Press self published book collection was initiated by Stefan Szczelkun, (an academic currently at Westminster University) and book artist.

His experience of being Polish in Brixton Artists Collective from 1983 – 1987 led him to think about his other identity – that of being working class. He met Graham Harwood at the Bonnington Square Festival for Peace in 1985, who as well as producing vibrant paintings had worked as a graphic artist.

They decided to form a group of working class artists who wanted to self-publish books under a collective imprint. They published their first self-funded titles in 1987 and having managed to get Central Books to be their distributor they achieved sales that were able to sustain further publications.

Stefan invited almost every working class artist he met to self-publish, whether in written or graphic form. He has stated that while ‘few artists have the energy, self-confidence and multiple skills to self-publish… the open invitation seemed a good way of networking and validating artists’ work. They had informal meetings and also one formal day conference.

In the ten years from 1987 they published eighteen original titles. These included high profile names like Conrad Atkinson and others who have become well-known like Alison Marchant, Shaheen Merali and Matthew Fuller.

The Arts Council gave a grant to research the British Artists’ Book scene which was somewhat fragmented at that time. Stefan used the research and a conference to make the book artists aware of each other and to raise the profile of books by artists in the UK. This work was continued by Tanya Peixoto (BookArtBookshop) with her three Artists’ Book Yearbooks, and by Marcus Campbell with his annual Artist Book Fair; and into present time with Sarah Bodman’s work at UWE Bristol. Stefan held out an open definition of ‘artists books’ which included such formats as Zines, ‘comix’ (sic) and polemical pamphlets circulating in England at the time.

The collection represents a unique project than interconnects many issues within alternative cultural and social activity at the time. .

Working Press publications include the early works of now well-known artists like Graham Harwood; leading academic writer Matt Fuller; illustrator Clifford Harper; theorist Howard Slater, with letters by them in the archive

Working Press acheived several historical firsts, including the first computer generated comic (Graham Harwood), the first book on football culture (Turner), the first book by and about Greenham Common Yellowgate women (Junor), and first book by Micheline Mason (disability /inclusion leader and artist).

Working Press gives an insight into self-funded publishing activity of the time.

Working Press represents the technology, communications and networking of the time which was the cusp of the digital era, for example photocopy art.

Working Press looks at perception of working class, women artists, disabled artists and black artists, and explores the notion of an artist as an oppressed group

Updates on cataloguing can be seen here

Monthly update on project progress


Farnham School of Art and West Surrey College of Design archive catalogues are available on Archives Hub. These consist of student work, staff magazines, bulletins, and student associations, with interest for Graphic Design and Fine Art

The Working Press Collection, is currently being catalogued. This is a collection relating to working class artists in the 1980s, which explores the idea of artists as an oppressed group, and the meaning of what it is to be working class. This consists of the in-house printed working press book collection, related pamphlets and artists books used for inspiration, and the correspondence and financial information.

Graduation photograph collections from the Kent Institute of Art and Design from 2000 (Maidstone, Rochester and Canterbury), which includes images of Zandra Rhodes in her own designed gown, are currently being catalogued. Photographs from Surrey, which includes graduation images from the 1970s, have been appraised and will be undergoing cataloguing

Textile books created by a individual in the Embroiders Guild have been catalogued online. To be shortly available online


Preservation workshops have taken place in Rochester and Canterbury
An access to the archives guide for students will shortly be written

Policies and procedures

Strategies for insurance, and a deposit agreement, and exhibition loan agreements, and appraisal guidelines have been written for internal use

Staff and student use

Fine Art students have photographed and represented images of Maidstone College of Art images in interesting ways. Images will shortly go on to UCA Archives website

External work

Conferences include the LGBT London Metropolitan conference in February, and UCA Archives will be presenting in an internal UCA staff conference with the Digitisation Unit in May

The Epsom Library Artist Book display will take place from the 8th April, with a talk from Graphic Designer and Artist Book creator Mike Nicholson on the 25th April in the evening

Work is ongoing for the Surrey History Centre display in August

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