Friday, March 29, 2013

Lost Art Resurrection - The Gallery of Lost Art

An innovative online archive has been announced art-prize winner at the coveted SXSW Interactive Awards. 'The Gallery of Lost Art' tells the story of artworks that have disappeared by welcoming the site's visitors into a virtual research centre resembling a crime-scene in a warehouse. A selection of newspaper cuttings, letters, images and films laid out for examination, reveal the last traces of lost works by more than forty twentieth-century artists, including Marcel Duchamp's urinal, Willem de Kooning's painting and Tracey Emin's tent. Whether stolen, discarded, rejected, erased or ephemeral, all of these works are being resurrected via the site which aims to bring them back into the public's consciousness.

The creation of the gallery exposes our intrigue with lost or amorphous art. While part of the fun of the website is to navigate your way around the virtual crime scene, our obsession with researching and rehashing the stories behind the artworks' loss, ultimately adds to their mystique. Beyond the deliberate erasing of temporary artworks by the artist, the exhibition evokes appreciation of the improvements being made in digital design to conserve the physical artwork, while raising questions about its role in the conservation of contemporary artworks. Tate Media who launched the exhibition in collaboration with Glasgow-based ISO, hope that the extensive research on which the project is founded, engages a wide audience to learn more about art history and tests the frontiers of art through the tentative suggestion that there is scope to present art, online.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Highlight of the Week - Sculptures and Installation Art

Information on the artists currently exhibiting at 'Light Show' in the Hayward Gallery, London, can be found on the exhibition website alongside an exhibition guide that's free to download.

'Light Show' which is at the Hayward until 28th April 2013 brings together works by artists who share an interest in experimenting with light to sculpt and shape space. A collection of free-standing sculptures and installations make up an exhibition that is all about the viewer's sensory experience, exploring how light can affect our state of mind and our perceptions of reality.

The phenomenon of light as an artistic medium is foregrounded through visitors' interaction with the artworks, many of which date back to the 1960s. Be illuminated by the information held on the website link below or download an exhibition guide here. Each have images of the artworks and information about the artists involved including David Batchelor, Olafur Eliasson and Leo Villareal.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Observing the Eighties

A retrospective look at the 1980s as remembered by the people who lived through Thatcher's Britain is the basis of a new digital archive project. The project combines previously distinct collections from the Mass Observation Project, British Library Oral History Collections and the University of Sussex Library to create an open access resource for teaching and research purposes.

The most historically relevant materials from the Mass Observation Archive – a collection of diaries and observations commissioned from volunteer writers about life in Britain - have been selected and digitised for website visitors to explore. This content is complemented by oral history recordings from the British Library's sound archive collection, comprising interviews with members of the public on themes associated with the 1980s.

Subjects covered include the Falkland’s War, Thatcher’s Britain, AIDS, Charles and Diana’s wedding, the miners’ strike, terrorism, unemployment and immigration. The online collection of printed and written materials includes period ephemera from University of Sussex Library such as public information leaflets, pamphlets, posters and tickets. In addition, 'infographics' created especially for the site, and a social media feed give some context to the period.

Rather than being a nostalgic nod to a decade still ridiculed for its naff fashion and clunky technology, this resource puts renewed emphasis on the socially historic importance of the 1980s, a time which saw the highest levels of unemployment since the 1930s and widespread public protest. In a Britain experiencing another wave of austere Tory cuts, it seems appropriate that we learn from our not so distant past through these types of resources.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Best Foot Forward - Europeana Fashion Blog

We love the new Tumblr blog from Europeana Fashion which provides a fantastic online resource for all fashion and textiles students. The blog has been created in collaboration with, a consortium of 22 partners from 12 European countries, representing the leading European institutions and collections in the fashion domain.

The Tumblr blog will feature a monthly theme, with the first showcasing shoes! Three of the world's best shoe collections from institutions have been brought together to form this post's content. Firstly, there is the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, home to the largest collection of shoe heritage in the world, featuring more than 12,000 shoes from Egyptian footwear to contemporary British design. Next, a selection of shoe designed by Rossimoda S.p.A. and on display at Museo Rossimoda della Calzatura are offered up as examples of the current trend of transparent plastics in footwear. Emphasis is given to the final collection curated by the acclaimed Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, a fashion house which has seen its designs worn by Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe.

The blog promises new riches each month with plenty of good-quality images available for those with refined tastes in footwear as well as related fashion topics.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Story-telling - Listen to Histories of the Women's Liberation Movement

Earlier in the month, we celebrated International Women's Day by dedicating a display case in the library to embroidery design graduate Dorothy C Smith, a student of the school during World War II. To mark the same occasion, the British Library have released an oral history of the Women's Liberation Movement which  captures the stories of the feminist campaigners of the 1970s and 80s through filmed interviews, accessible to play on the website. 

The 'Sisterhood and After' resource forms part of a wider Leverhulme Trust-funded project to create an original and extensive oral history archive documenting the stories of a unique and formidable generation of women! The interviewees talk about their roles in key campaigns for women's rights, their relationships- personal and political, their experiences of adolescence, body image and identity, and their views on the diversity of the movements in different parts of the UK.

For access to some of the political images stored in the archives, use the timeline function to select the year or political movement and click on the link to view image in the pop-up box. The information provided by the timeline helps to contextualise the image and will often make recommendations for further reading which is an invaluable help when researching information on the period. Explore the site to discover the key events and movements that have marked women's strive for equality and expression.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Interactive iBooks - Graphic Design for Learning

iBook research reportWe're fascinated by the launch of the first interactive iBook of Research from the Oxford Internet Institute, the academic centre for the study of the implications of the internet on society.

The iBook, entitled 'Geographies of the World's Knowledge' uses the most innovative technologies to make its content more visually engaging than the traditional research paper. Instead of dense screeds of text, the iBook uses moving graphics and brightly-coloured diagrams. Readers are able to select how much more detail they wish to view on screen, through the use of special interactivity functions on the iPad. For example, if a reader required information not visible from an overview map of the world, they could tap to reveal a pop-up label providing a further level of detail. The result is a highly visual resource that encourages self-paced learning, thereby making Oxford Internet Institute research accessible to a far wider audience than may arguably be found through traditional publications.

The institute custom-made their own interactive elements which could be used to further enhance the software provided by Apple for users to design iBooks. In doing so, they have created a prototype which provides a benchmark for other iBooks to follow and effectively revolutionised the future of academic learning tools! Download the book for free from Apple's iBookstore at this link: .

Other interactive visualisations of research data from the centre can be found on the institute's website are at the link

Thursday, March 14, 2013

In Conversation with John Byrne

GSA alumnus John Byrne will be in conversation with theatre critic Joyce McMillan on Friday 22nd March at Summerhall, Edinburgh's newest arts venue and cultural hub. The Glasgow artist and playwright who attended Glasgow School of Art from 1958 to 1963 will be offering insights into his many creations spanning the period from the 1960s to the present day.

The GSA Library catalogue holds a number of John Byrne titles from artist monologues studying his painting and prints, to the BAFTA award-winning TV series 'Tutti Frutti' to examples of his plays. Of these, his script for 'The Slab Boys' is written with the artist's personal experiences of work for carpet manufacturers Stoddard and Co in mind. Alongside, lending holdings for John Byrne, the library also hold the in-house library of carpet manufacturers James Templeton and A.F. Stoddard as part of our Special Collections. Designers for the carpet manufacturers would have used the library to gather initial ideas and spark off the creative process. Its inclusion in the library complements any research into the life and works of John Byrne.

For further information about the event or to book tickets, look on Summerhall's website for details at the link below. For those interested but unable to make the journey, the repartee between the artist and another GSA alumnus, Peter Capaldi, recorded for BBC2 and held in our DVD section offers an anecdote of what to expect from the event.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Covering Lolita - 185 Book and Media Covers

Lolita is famous, not I. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name”. Vladimir Nabokov’s comment in 1977 continues to be confirmed with the online ‘Covering Lolita’ exhibition detailing the 185 book and media covers since the publication of the scandalous first edition by French avant-garde publishers Olympia Press in 1955.

Compiled by Germany’s leading Nabokov expert Dieter Zimmer, the exhibition illustrates not only the pictorial aspect of Nabokov’s art but the extent of the ‘Lolita phenomenon’ (from the Japanese fashion craze, to perfumery [Marc Jacobs]). A highly-respected lepidopterist (the technical name for butterfly collector), Nabokov was also an art lover and his numerous butterfly drawings for his wife Vera, such as the one pictured here on The Annotated Lolita (Penguin, 2000), reveal a fragile and sensitive side to his often distorted public image.

Nabokov was affected by synaesthesia, a condition whereby a person has the sensory ability, for example, to ‘experience’ colours when reading words or to ‘see’ sounds. The condition seems to seep through his sumptuous written style containing wonderfully lucid description.

What is perhaps most remarkable about the exhibition is the disparity of the covers amassed over 56 years - ranging from coquettish, lollipop-holding girls to stocking-sporting women who seem well into maturity. Given reports of the hostility that Nabokov is receiving in Russia at the moment, this exhibition reminds us of just how pervasive, and contentious, Lolita remains in the public psyche. For more on the interplay between Nabokov and art, search the GSA Library catalogue for additional book and DVD resources.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Dorothy Smith Cabinet Display in Library

Today, 8th March, is International Women's Day and to celebrate, we've dedicated a display cabinet on Level 1 of the Library to Dorothy C Smith, a former GSA student in the Department of Embroidery & Design during World War II.

On display is a selection of interesting ephemera curated from materials found in the library and the school's archives. Library books which we believe were consulted by Dorothy Smith in her days as a student from 1940-44 complement the school's archive materials which include a textile sample, the design for a print as well as Dorothy Smith's actual student notebooks. We've provided a blurb and captions providing more information on our famous female alumnae; these can also be found in the 'Library Display Cabinets' folder as part of the Archives and Collections course.

Watch out for more posts about our cabinet displays which we hope to fill with lots more interesting items over the coming months. Each display will aim to make links between our library collections with those in the Archives & Collections Centre and will cover a broad range of taught subject areas, and GSA alumni. Ask at the librarians' office or at the Archives department if you have any questions and check the newly-revamped ACC blog for further inspiration.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Counterculture online - British Library's Comic Books and Zines Collections

The underground nature of some counterculture press materials such as zines, alternative comics and graphic novels can sometimes make their contents seem elusive.

A handy route into the thriving arts scenes evident in some of these publications is possible through the British Library's website, which groups educational information about the growth of independent and often self-published magazines under subject-headings and provides useful links through to the websites of the individuals and communities responsible for their circulation. The names of significant contributors to the scene are provided and a selection of some images are available.

GSA library hold some publications from the alternative publishing scene in the Mackintosh Library. From our blog page, click on the word 'zines' in the word cloud to see all our previous postings on this area of the arts. The information provided  is likely to be of use to visual communication designers and those interested in the history of print culture more generally.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection on VADS

Works by internationally-acclaimed fashion designer Zandra Rhodes are to be made available on the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) image repository. Amongst other collections, VADS is a great resource for obtaining contextualised images of textile and fashion-related items.

The Digital Collection Project is a collaborative venture between the University of Creative Arts in London (UCA) who host VADS and the Zandra Rhodes Studio which has been a powerhouse in fashion over the last 50 years. Zandra, who trained at one of UCA's founder colleges is one of the most famous names in British fashion, designing haute couture costumes for celebrities, royalty and even for opera. Her interests in fashion education are apparent through her close links with UCA and this recent effort to share in a project that uses digital technology for the benefit of teaching and research.

500 images of the designer's most iconic designs will have open online access selected from her back-catalogue, which stretches back to the 1960s. The resource is a great opportunity for emergent and aspiring fashion and textile designers interested in British fashion heritage.

For more information, visit the project's Wordpress blog below and keep checking VADS for the collection to make its colourful entrance.