Her AHRC-funded PhD in Archival Studies from the University of Brighton (2019) examined the tangled interconnections between archives and curatorial practices, and provided a structural modelling for understanding the wide-ranging conceptualisations of archives and ‘the archive’ in curatorial discourse. She also completed an MA in Curatorial Studies (UBC, Canada, 2004). Between 2017-2020, she was Archive Curator and Researcher at the Slade School of Fine Art, working on the Slade Archive Project for which she developed and managed a range of collaborative research, digitisation, cataloguing and exhibition projects; she continues to conduct research as part of the Transnational Slade project. She has led oral history projects for institutions such as the Association for Art History and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and have taught research methodology at a number of arts institutions in the UK.
Her research focuses on archives and curation, and their practical and theoretical interconnections; the institutional histories and documentary practices of visual arts and heritage organisations, with a current focus on the transnational and interdisciplinary histories of the Slade School of Fine Art, London; and oral history as research method and resource in the arts. She is also interested in expanding understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities in the curation of archives; biographies of archives, ‘orphan’, unofficial and hybrid museum and archival records and artefacts, and the understanding of these for curatorial practice.
The Slade School of Fine Art, 1 an internationally leading art school based at University College London, has an intriguing but underused archive relating to students and staff, and their teaching, artworks, and experiences. The Slade Archive Project, jointly undertaken by the Slade and UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, 2 is an interdisciplinary, highly iterative, exploratory research collaboration, investigating how digital tools and techniques can open up the archive to the public and increase engagement with its contents. We demonstrate that collaborative work with a centre for digital humanities informs and enhances the use and understanding of digital methods available to art historians—a field that has not, to date, made much use of computational research methods—and encourages and supports new archival research methods. The Slade and Its Archive Since 1871 the Slade School of Fine Art has educated and trained generations of world-renowned artists. 3 The Slade has an extensive archive, including papers, photographs, class lists, student records, audio recordings, films, prospectuses, death masks, and other artefacts, providing rich evidence of the culture and activities of the college. However, this archive is difficult to access, and no attempt has been made to present it to a wider audience. Over time, the archive has been consolidated and dispersed across the university, with records now held by UCL Art Museum, 4 UCL Records Office, 5 UCL Library Special Collections, 6 and within the art school itself. Cataloguing is incomplete, and the documentation systems are not interoperable. The art school is both the context and the subject of the archive: any project derived from this archive will be, at least in part, art historical in nature. However, the archive is also of great interest to alumni, family historians, filmmakers, and authors who request access and want to contribute because of an interest in the personal histories beyond their conventional scholarly value. In this complex web of priorities, interdependencies, and responsibilities, digital technologies can provide the means to engage with archival content in unprecedented ways. Digital Humanities and Art History There has been curiously little research that applies digital methods within an art historical context (beyond simple digitisation of collections). Although scholars are starting to question the relationship of digital methods to art history (Rodriguez Ortega, 2013) and are exploring new tools (Rodriguez et al., 2012), these are not yet embedded into art historical methods. The John Paul Getty Trust has been urging art historians to utilize more digital technologies (Dobrzynski, 2014), but it has been suggested that the digital needs of art historians can be successfully met only through the work of many support organizations (Long and Schonfeld, 2014): we have undertaken to do this in the Slade Archive Project, which is inherently collaborative. The Slade Archive Project as Digital Humanities Collaboration The Slade Archive Project was launched in summer 2012 as a joint initiative driven by a shared curiosity of what could be done with the unique archive materials within the digital space. At the outset, our small team 7 working from different areas of specialization had yet to learn what the archive even held. The project was conceived as a flexible and collaborative frame under which various sub-projects could be developed, driven by the specific re
The first book to explore the theory and practice of oral history as a methodology across a wide range fields including art, design, fashion, textiles, museum studies, history and craft.