As my work has taken inspiration from processes of archiving I wanted to research artists who also work in a similar way - through engaging with archives as inspiration for making work.
Paul Coldwell's exhibition Re-Imagining Scott: Objects & Journeys, is one such example where an artists has created a body of work as a way of investigating a specific archive and the history that surrounds it.
Publication created by the artist to coincide with the exhibition Re-Imagining Scott: Objects & Journeys - a year long exploration into the archives at the Scott Polar Research Institute. This can be an appropriate reference for my own work as it demonstrates how another contemporary artist has been inspired by the format of the archive.
Paul Coldwell, Five Objects Pointing South, 2013
The artist is described as having a deep and personal resonance to the story of Scott. He aimed to produce new work deriving from his engagement with the archive.
The artist wished to produce new work driving from his engagement with archival and museum material. This is interesting as it links to the institutions aim to open up collections as a way of providing creative inspiration for artists. The archive contained a range of materials from the explorer Scott including sledging notebooks, meteorological books and watercolour paintings.
The institution sees archives as an important means of introducing a particular history to the general public, it can be seen as a way of collecting a specific history and keeping it stored.
Archives can be physically viewed, allowing an audience to feel the sense of ownership on the story archives can be aware of accounting major events
The archive includes objects from Robert Falcon Scott's who began an expedition to the South Pole on the 24th of October 1911. It is interesting how the artist is drawn to a specific cultural and historic events and particularly personal experience responding to very engaging story with links to exploration and science.
It's a way of responding to the archive, his work is divided into four main components using different materials for example screen prints used specifically exploring the sponsorship side of the event. He then also uses postcards as a way of recording messages from the expedition team. Lastly he created an imagined set of objects made out of glass which directly links to more personal element and included objects which would be very personal for the journey and for the individual survival. It's interesting how his use of materials feeds directly from the archive showing how the artist is influenced by his research. The sculptures in particular are very conceptual with the choice of the material of glass aesthetically plays almost like ice which links to the location of the expedition.
The artist offers an interesting description of photographs defining it as being a physical document that recounts events and experiences.
He also describes the ritual aspect of archives – e.g. the physical activity of arriving at the archive, researching and selecting specific objects. He states how the objects and materials from the archive serve to transport the viewer to a different time and allows you to experience previous experiences and also imagine someone else's existence and experience. He also describes how the archive is not fixed and so it allows contents to have a fresh interpretation and then he in a sense continues that process by making work in response to the archive. This then allows the viewer to reinterpret the artwork which further reinterprets the original archive so it adds this cyclical role to the process.
Paul describes his role as an artist as one to help set up new meanings create new connections.
These connections were formed through the objects in the exhibition. This worked was made up of a series of postcards of reimagined landscapes as well as glass sculptures recreating the objects used for the expedition. It is interesting to see how the storytelling and historical information has been used as direct inspiration for the making of work - the work is grounded with the history of the archive - objects are a way of performing the archive - making connections to different histories - enacting the archive - making it physical - another way of interpreting - making sense of the history through actions of physical making.
It would be beneficial to consider my own making process in relation to Coldwell's. Whilst I am very interested in the ability to make work as a direct response to an historical archive I feel that my own work is more interested in creating my own archives - a process of collecting - almost like fictional archives - I need to consider if these objects are significant on their own - can they be presented as art objects in their own right or are they more visual inspiration to inform making other work - in a similar way as Richard Deacon collects stones to inform his sculpture.
Coldwell, P., 2013. Re-imagining Scott: Objects & Journey's. 1st ed. Cambridge: The Scott Polar Research Institute.