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Printing and protest at Special Collections’ summer schools

Helen FBiggs13 August 2019

Librarian Liz Lawes discussing the Small Press Collections with summer school participants

While many of our colleagues have been enjoying (much deserved!) holidays over the past few months, it has been business as usual for UCL Special Collections’ outreach team. We have been lucky this year to be able to offer not one, but two summer schools for secondary school students, both taking their inspiration from our amazing Small Press Collection.

Protest in Print: Year 12 Non-residential Summer School (funded by Widening Participation)

This week-long summer school was co-led by artist David Blackmore, 2018-19 Honorary Research Associate at the Slade. The project aimed to give participants an opportunity to explore the ways in which artists, activists and writers have used and continue to use print to communicate a message of protest or political activism.  David was already familiar with much of the protest material in our Little Magazines collection, having taken part in the 2019 Small Press Project, Visions of Protest. With his encouragement, our students were quick to outline the many issues that they believe are worth drawing more attention to (including mental health, Islamophobia, the Extradition Bill in Hong Kong, and data protection) and staged their own demonstration on UCL’s Portico steps.

Summer school students stage a demonstration on UCL’s Portico steps

Our students then spent some time immersing themselves in archival and print collections, exploring ways in which some marginalised voices have found platforms in small press and self-published works. As well as viewing some of the wide range of titles held in Little Magazines, curated for them by Liz Lawes, they visited the May Day Rooms on Fleet Street, and had a tour of the Bishopsgate Institute Archives.

Putting their newfound knowledge into action, each of our students then created a work of art, using collage that incorporated copies of items they’d seen, and screen printing taught and facilitated by the Slade’s Lesley Sharpe.

The week ended with a ‘soft crit’ of their work, and a well-attended public exhibition. While many of our students had arrived anxious that they weren’t ‘art students’, they all showed a remarkable amount of skill and creativity, and a real passion to explain what was important to them through the medium of print.

A ‘soft crit’ of students’ artwork ahead of their exhibition.

 

Paper, Press, Print: East Education Summer School

With barely a pause to breathe, we launched straight into our second summer school, a free three-day course based at UCL Here East, as part of the Olympic Park’s education programme for local 13-to-16 year olds. It was wonderful to be able to host our project at UCL’s own campus at Here East, where our colleagues made both us and our students feel welcome.

Summer school students creating their own zines.

We were once again looking at protest in print, but with a different twist: this time, we focused on the ‘grassroots’ nature of many of the magazines in our Small Press collection, and invited Lu Williams of Grrrl Zine Fair to run a zine-making workshop. While our students differed in ages and abilities, they were all able to use photography, collage, block printing and a photocopier to create their own zines, allowing them to disseminate their ideas almost instantly.

And if that wasn’t enough…

…we’ve had plenty of other workshops to keep us busy! This year Sarah Hutton of UCL Culture invited us to take part in her Year 8 and Year 12 summer schools, both of which saw us discussing morality through 19th Century scientific archives and 16th Century religious texts, and July’s Paper Trails Conference was followed by a two-day workshop for Year 12s from Newham Collegiate Sixth Form College, led by Andrew Smith, on how to use primary sources in history research.

We will shortly be looking ahead to the new school and academic year – but first, we’ll finally be taking a well-earned summer holiday of our own!

Bridging the Digital Gap (Part II)

IsabelleReynolds-Logue18 July 2019

In my last post I explained what I have been up to for the last 9 months as the Bridging the Digital Gap trainee at UCL. Now, I will show you some of my favourite digitisation projects so far…

The UCL College Collection

The UCL College Collection contains, among other things, photographs of the exterior and interior of UCL buildings.

This photograph looking towards Gordon Street (Gordon Square is signified by the trees in the background) features some graffiti from the mid-twentieth century: ‘Merry Xmas. Love peace anarchy.’

Technicians seen posing on the ruins of the Great Hall at UCL in the 1950s.

The issue desk at the Main Library post-1951.

Bomb damage to the Main Library after the Second World War.

 

The Little Magazines Collection

The Little Magazines Collection was set up in 1964 to gather together little magazines from the UK, North America, Commonwealth and Europe. We have defined Little Magazines as “those which publish creative, often innovative work, with little or no regard for commercial gain.” You can learn more about the collection here.

Cover of ‘Gargoyle’ Number Two, 1921.

A page from ‘The Owl: A Miscellany’ 1919.

 

Jewish Pamphlets

I worked on a joint project with Dr. Maria Kiladi to digitise the Jewish Pamphlets Collection.

One challenge with these was that some pamphlets were read from right to left, when in Hebrew, as opposed to ones written in English. Another challenge was that I am unable to read Hebrew, so with pages entirely in Hebrew it was not easy to know which way round they were supposed to be. Additionally, the pages containing Hebrew characters were automatically rotated by the OCR software when generating PDFs, so I had to manually go through these and change them individually.

The entire collection can be found in our digital collections repository.

The cover of one of the pamphlets.

 

Library Exhibition

Again working alongside Maria, we digitised material that was going to be on display for the exhibition, ‘From Small Library Beginnings: a brief history of UCL Library Services.’ The photographs are online but were also printed in the exhibition catalogue. You can see more items from the exhibition online.

1935 Block Plan of University College London.

 

Dante’s Divine Comedy

This copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy features illustrations that go across a double page spread. This is not straightforward to capture with one camera pointing down towards the item, as the print is not flat, and cannot be made flat. There was also a problem of shadow appearing in the centre along the gutter. In order to capture the print as best I could, I ended up taking two separate images, on of each side of the book so that there is even illumination, and merging them in Photoshop.

You can read more about this item here.

 

Slade Archive Reader

Finally, the Slade Archive Reader is now available as four fully digitised, searchable PDFs, which you can view here.

My first thought was, why, if this is a printed, word processed document, do we not have a digital copy already? Unfortunately this is often the case with older word processed material. So, we have the task of re-digitising something that was already digital! Once we began looking at the volumes, it was clear that digitising the Slade Archive Reader would not be without its fair share of challenges. Primarily, the four volumes are bound quite tightly, which made it hard for me to keep the pages flat when photographing them. This curvature of the pages leads to a distortion of the text, which in turn makes it difficult for the OCR software to pick up.

You can browse all of our digital collections online here.

 

UCL Special Collections is committed to making digitised content available online. Although every effort has been made to identify and contact rights holders, we recognise that sometimes material published online may be in breach of copyright laws, contain sensitive personal data, or include content that may be regarded as obscene or defamatory.

If you are a rights holder and are concerned that you have found material on our Digital Collections repository for which you have not given permission, or that is not covered by a limitation or exception in national law, please contact us at spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk

Slade Small Press Project, 9-11 March

TabithaTuckett8 March 2018

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Slade Small Press Project is opening its work to the public, alongside an exhibition on Friday afternoon from UCL Library Special Collections’ Small Press Collections. Events will take place at the Slade Research Centre, top floor, 16 Woburn Square, WC1H 0AB.

Staff and students from the Slade School of Fine Art, alongside invited artists, have created works on the theme of sound inspired by the material from Special Collections, as part of a term-long research project supporting UCL’s Connected Curriculum.

Participants in the project have seen and heard material from UCL’s collections by experimental and avant-garde writers, poets, artists, photographers, dancers and composers. These include graphic musical scores (to learn more about these, see for example this blogpost), and works by John Cage, Cornelius Cardew, Henri Chopin and performance poets. On Friday you might even pick up a specially-pressed vinyl record of the students’ work made in response to our collections.

Recordings from the avant-garde poet and musician, Henri Chopin UCL SMALL PRESS COLLECTIONS

Friday 9 March, 2-4.30pm, includes not only the library exhibition and listening booths, but talks from an artist, a poet, a film-maker and an art critic, discussing lullabies, the connection or not between grime music and concrete poetry, Daphne Oram (co-founder of the pioneering BBC Radiophonic Workshop), and dance notations by Jennifer Pike (held in Special Collections). 4.30pm till late will see the launch of an exhibition of work created during the Project, the launch of the students’ specially pressed vinyl record, and a specially editioned print in honour of the late Mark E Smith and his inspiration, Blast (copies of which are held in Special Collections). The evening programme also includes a series of live performances by Slade staff and students and invited artists. The Project exhibition and listening booths continue on Saturday 10 March, 1-5pm and Sunday 11 March, 1-4pm, with a further programme of live performances on the Saturday.

Events are free and open to the public. Full details in the Project brochure below or here.

Read more about the Subject Liaison Librarian Liz Lawes’ experience of running the project in Tabitha Tuckett and Elizabeth Lawes, ‘Object literacy at University College London Library Services’ in Art Libraries Journal vol.42 issue 2 (April 2017) pp.99-106.

UCL SMALL PRESS COLLECTIONS

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The Small Press Project 2018
Slade Research Centre, Woburn Square
Friday 9th March

The Small Press Collections held by UCL Library Services Special Collections are a globally significant collection of Little Magazines, literary pamphlets, and counter-cultural newspapers produced as a result of the independent publishing scene of the mid 20th century to the present.

From the late 1950s experimental poets and visual artists took advantage of newly accessible printing techniques to self-publish, and distribute their work outside of mainstream literary journals or established gallery spaces. The collections focus on experimental text and image, visual and concrete poetry, the documentation of performance and sound poetry, and text works by artists.

The theme of Sound is in evidence throughout the collections in various manifestations: actual sound recordings, the visual scores of experimental composers, sound and performance poets, poetry and other texts to be read aloud. This year’s Small Press Project seeks to illuminate all these aspects.

The Small Press Project Event, also includes an exhibition of works and recordings made by the staff and students at the Slade School of Fine Art.

Schedule

2.10        Hannah Dargavel-Leafe

Introductions and welcome

2.15      Aura Satz

Aura Satz’ practice encompasses film, sound, performance and sculpture. She has made a body of works that look at key female figures largely excluded from mainstream historical discourse, in an ongoing engagement with the question of women’s contributions to labour, technology, scientific knowledge and electronic music. In her presentation she will give an overview of 3 projects made about women composers, including ‘Oramics’, an artist’s film made in homage to Daphne Oram.

2.45       Holly Pester

Holly Pester will present ‘A short talk on the process of recording lullabies and composing lines from an archive of efforts.’ As well as the talk (and possibly short reading of one of the poems), she will play extracts from her record Common Rest.

3.15 – 3.30     Tea & Coffee

3.30      Holly Antrum

For her presentation, Holly Antrum will introduce an artistic interest in the original items and materials that went into Computer Dances by artist Jennifer Pike (1919 – 2016), as a subsequent tool for inter-generational collaboration and intervention. Jennifer Pike produced the ‘Computer Dances’ and other works within and around a productive, shared domestic studio, printing and publishing space wherein she was the oft-collaborator, and also marriage partner of Bob Cobbing (1920-2002). Computer Dances compiles Pike’s abstract notations for dance and performance: they were made in her 70’s, and she created them stepping into digital working, through scans and digital drawing using a simple early Sketch-Up programme. Holly will explore how arriving at these drawings occurred through being in Pike’s home and studio and how this sonically entered her 16mm/HD film, titled Catalogue (2012-14). Excerpts will screened from the film (19 minutes).

4.00    Jonathan P Watts

Jonathan P Watts will present ‘g, g, g, grime & kon kon kon konkrete poetry’

There is no actual relation between concrete poetry and grime, but the mix and blend might open up affinities. For example, by concentrating on the physical substance of language, concrete poetry can, to echo Bob Cobbing, help us consider how the microphone and the tape recorder extends the human voice, teaching the human new tricks of rhythm and tone, power and subtlety’. Grime, the Lewisham MC Novelist recently explained, is ‘an unorthodox, rebellious sound that represents madness from the hood, the streets’. Concrete poetry is now mostly in the academies, but it was unorthodox in its time. As grime has formalised into a mainstream genre so, arguably, its unorthodox, experimental beginnings have been forgotten. Wiley, writing in his recent autobiography, Eskiboy, reminds us: ‘I’ve got a lot of songs that I’ve never released which are just trying different things with the mic, very experimental kind of stuff. I’ve had ideas for whole songs just using the mic, my voice and nothing else.’ From Flirta D’s ‘splatterisms’ to Flow Dan’s New Age Synchronised Avengers, D Double E’s ‘blukuuus’ to God’s Gift’s rhyming gunshots, this talk will not place grime in the service of concrete poetry.

4.30 – 8.00     Private View for the Small Press Project Exhibition

The evening will feature live performances, curated by Hannah Dargavel-Leafe, Honorary Research Associate, by invited artists and students and staff from Slade School of Fine Art. We will also launch a special edition and a 10” vinyl publication produced by students as part of the project.

Biographies

Holly Antrum (b. London 1983) is an artist filmmaker based in London, and a current participant of the Acme Fire Station Work-Live residency in Bow. She works with 16mm, paper and digital mediums, and often in collaborative processes and study of practice with other artists and writers. She is interested in the moment of our accustomisation to celluloid-as-digital-material, and in a material moment of being at once archived and removed from the original and native aesthetic. Through her films she utilises the poetics of layered film processes, presence, communication and templates of speech, memory and in-situ sound. Recent projects include EIDOLON(2017) a film commissioned by International Literature Showcase with poetry by Sandeep Parmar. The new work was screened alongside artist-selected archival works within the Cinenova collection at The Showroom (February 2018). Solo gallery installations include Catalogue at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Edinburgh (2016) and A Diffuse Citizen at Grand Union, Birmingham (2014). Her work has also been screened in galleries internationally. Holly Antrum earned her Masters in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art, London (2011), and her BA Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon School of Art, London (2005). A copy of Computer Dances (first published by Writer’s Forum in 1995) is also held in the UCL Special Collections.

Jonathan P. Watts is a contemporary art critic and occasional curator. He is a visiting lecturer in Critical and Historical Studies at the Royal College of Art, London. Writing by Jonathan has appeared in frieze, Art Monthly and Artforum. His review of Wiley’s recent autobiography Eskiboy appeared in the Times Literary Supplement this week. As ‘helter helter’, he makes performances that respond to aspects of instrumental grime music.

Holly Pester is a poet and Lecturer in Poetry and Performance at University of Essex. Her work has been situated as recordings, print, sound installation and live readings at international venues and esoteric spaces. Her most recent work, Common Rest was an album of collaborative Sound Poetry and accompanying poetry pamphlet. More info can be found at hollypester.com 

Aura Satz has performed, exhibited and screened her work nationally and internationally, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Hayward Gallery, Barbican Art Gallery, ICA, the Wellcome Collection, BFI Southbank, Whitechapel Gallery, (London); Oberhausen Short Film Festival (Oberhausen); the Rotterdam Film Festival (Rotterdam); the New York Film Festival (NY); Anthology Film Archives (NY); Gertrude Contemporary (Melbourne); De Appel Art Centre (Amsterdam); AV festival (Newcastle); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead); Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin); InterCommunication Centre (Tokyo); Lentos Museum (Linz); and The Sydney Biennale (Sydney). Recent solo shows include John Hansard Gallery (Southampton); Dallas Contemporary (Texas); Gallery 44 (Toronto); Tyneside Cinema Gallery (Newcastle); George Eastman House (Rochester NY); Fridman Gallery (NY). In 2012, she was shortlisted for the Samsung Art+ Award and the Jarman Award. She is a Reader and Tutor at the Royal College of Art, London. www.iamanagram.com

Hannah Dargavel-Leafe (born 1987, London) graduated with an MA from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2016 and Manchester School of Art with a BA in 2010. She has exhibited at The International 3 in Manchester, Bluecoat in Liverpool, and at ICA London. In 2016 she was in residence at the East Tower at Television Centre, White City and worked collaboratively with the artist Jack West. She was a featured artist in Ambit Magazine.
Dargavel-Leafe runs The Loop, an ongoing research project through symposiums, exhibitions and publishing. She is an associate artist with The International 3.

Small Press Project is organised by:

Liz Lawes, Subject Liaison Librarian for Fine Art, UCL Library Services

Lesley Sharpe, Holding Page & Teaching Fellow, Slade School of Fine Art;

Hannah Dargavel-Leafe, Honorary Research Associate, Slade School of Fine Art;

Sarah Pickering, artist & Teaching Fellow, Slade School of Fine Art

The Small Press Project is generously supported by the Teaching Initiatve Fund, IAS and the Dean’s Strategic Award.

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