Reimagining the archive with London academics and creatives

Creativeworks London has awareded eight new collaborations between academics and SMEs £15,000 each as part of their fifth round of the ‘Creative Vouchers’ scheme to explore the theme of archiving.

A newly established AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) network of over 40 academic and creative sector partners, Creativeworks London aims to create fresh and innovative collaborations between academic researchers and SMEs to support London’s Creative Economy now and in the future.

The successful projects will explore new ways of interacting with archive, taking advantage of the creative possibilities opened up by interactive platforms and new technologies.

The selected commissions are:

Project: (Better) Believe It: Big Journeys, Untold Stories

Counterpoints Arts, a creative hub working at the intersection of creative arts and film, advocacy and public learning, has been paired with academic Sue Clayton, Reader in Film and Digital Narratives at Royal Holloway, University of London to produce a ‘migratory archive’, for use as a research tool for agencies working in migration and the global human rights sector. Using material gathered over 10 years, Sue Clayton has followed the stories of separated young people living in the UK who arrived having for instance been child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo or whose families fought alongside British troops in Helmand or who got caught on the wrong side of partition in Sudan. The material takes the form of interviews, video diaries, and re-created scenarios, which turn on their head many public and media assumptions about ‘asylum’, ‘scroungers’ and what it means to be ‘British’.

Project: Cooking In Time, World Dinners 1970/1980/1990/2000/2010/2020

Event company Creative Belly fronted by head chef Ben Spalding, (Per Se: New York, Roganic: London, L’Autre Pied: London, Brasserie Lipp: Paris and 28+: Gothenburg), has been partnered with Dr Joshua Abrams from University of Roehampton to explore how culinary performance has varied over time. Project Cooking In Time will create a series of events focused on the living exploration of historical culinary changes. While not always immediately recognised as part of the cultural industries, the culinary arts are a clear expression of creative exploration tightly connected to other developments and practices across the arts and humanities. The project will focus on the rapidity of change in British culinary traditions over the past fifty years. Seeking to understand questions of popularity and the changing landscape of culinary style. A tight focus on developments since the 1960s will explore how Britain has quickly moved from a reputation as a culinary wasteland to one of the greatest food cities in the world.

Project: Developing New Programming Models from the Her Noise Archive

Irene Revell from contemporary art organisation Elektra will be working with Professor Cathy Lane from the University of the Arts to help develop Elektra’s offer from one-off artists’ commissions and projects, to more ongoing programme models, such as education programming, workshops and evening courses. In collaboration with CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practise) Irene and Cathy will develop Elektra’s Her Noise Archive, a resource of collected materials investigating music and sound histories in relation to gender, into a modular curriculum that can be adapted and tailored for specific opportunities or needs. This curriculum will then be used to devise one prototype evening course and one prototype workshop series to be delivered in Electra’s new space in summer 2014. These will be jointly evaluated and fed back into the curriculum.

Project: Making the invisible visible: enabling audiences to ‘see’ archive collections

The Geffrye Museum, a Grade 1 listed almshouses in Hoxton in East London that looks at the history of the home, will work with Dr Alastair Owens from Queen Mary College, University of London, to find a way to research and develop visualisation models for presenting their unique archive of highly documented, digitized photographs of ordinary people’s homes dating from the late nineteenth century to the present. Taking advantage of a range of digital platforms the project will allow the user to select, interrogate, organise and interpret data beyond a pedestrian item-by-item approach, to explore and generate connections instead of seeing an object, space or concept in isolation.

Project: Restock, Rethink, Reflect – Live Art, Feminism and the Archive

LADA (Live Art Development Agency), a world leader in creating the conditions for artists and organisations in the national and international cultural sector to flourish, is partnering with Professor Lois Weaver from Queen Mary College, University of London, to work on The Study Room archive (SR). SR is LADA’s core resource: an open access archive of over 6,000 items used by artists, students, academics, arts professionals and the public. The 2013 launch of LADA’s new website includes online access to the SR catalogue and curated digital SR content including video. Drawing from Weaver’s history of working with ‘undocumented’ areas of culture and current practice based research investigating the use of performance as a means of facilitating public engagement, the project aims to help identify and develop thematic areas in the SR archive and look at how it is possible to disseminate this research through more conventional means, including in print and online.

Project: Connections: The June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive

The June Givanni Pan African Archive will work with Emma Sandon from Birbeck, University of London, to enhance the access to and understanding of African Cinema. The company has an invaluable archive on Pan African film, including Black British, African and African diaspora cinema. And through this collaboration June Givanni hopes to make its materials more accessible whilst at the same time identify potential stakeholders. The relationship with Birkbeck’s Institute of Moving Image (BIMI), a research centre promoting film archive and history scholarship, will allow for the collection to be presented to potential stakeholder groups in the arts, academic and educational sectors. BIMI will provide the academic expertise and space to establish a research framework for the company’s archival remit of preserving and exhibiting Pan African cinema collections by drawing out and presenting key connective themes.

Project: Connections: The Wayne McGregor Living Archive (prototype)

Wayne McGregor | Random Dance is one of the world’s leading dance companies. During its 20-year history the company has performed to a live and TV audience of 4.8 million in 53 countries, provided participation opportunities for over 70,000, and led a ten-year collaborative research programme through its unique R-Research department. It is led by the multi-award winning contemporary choreographer Wayne McGregor CBE, who is also Resident Choreographer at The Royal Ballet and creator of work for the top dance companies around the globe. Polly Hunt from Wayne MacGregor | Random Dance will be working with Simone Stumpf from City University London to design and build a prototype digital archive of unique materials produced during the career of choreographer Wayne McGregor including video footage, designs, photography, and McGregor’s original notes.

Project: Song Catchers: archiving and promoting oral culture in London

The Song Collectors Collective (SCC) has an active passion to conserve the rare and ancient oral culture of the world and will be recording and publishing the tradition bearers who still keep our ancient sung and spoken arts alive within their own families and communities. They will collaborate with the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) to ask how different members of the community collect material and the best ways of archiving and sharing this material. The project will conclude with an event including a concert, a presentation of the participants’ outputs (e.g. recordings of oral tradition in London) and project findings. By bringing together musicians, archivists, academics and the tradition bearers themselves, the project aims to engage individuals across social, cultural, and institutional divides and to facilitate wide-ranging knowledge exchange.

Find out more about Creativeworks London and its Creative Voucher scheme:

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