Thursday, 22 March 2012

One Hundred and Three Boxes

The purpose of this blog is to disseminate ‘highlights’ from the vast wealth of material that the project has procured, encompasses and will be producing via its four main strands of enquiry.

In terms of quantity, the largest of these strands of evidence is the archives of the Third Eye Centre and the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA).  Comprising paperwork, photographs and ephemera from 1972, (prior to the inception of The Third Eye Centre), up to the current activities at the CCA as recently as 2011.  This nearly forty year period covers the highs and lows of contemporary art practice at 350 Sauchiehall Street, drawing in public, social and personal histories from Glasgow and beyond.

The prospect of cataloguing this rich and diverse material is as daunting and as problematic as it is exciting. Much of my time so far has been spent considering and discussing with my colleagues how to approach the arrangement, description and processing of the material in a manor that remains sensitive to its ideology and character, whilst making it a valid and useful tool for research.

Researching the approach of other art institutions to archiving  (IKON, Whitechapel, The John Latham Archive, Transmission etc) has revealed that there cannot, and probably should not, be a ‘one size fits all’ methodology for cataloguing creative content.  We have worked out a methodology which places emphasis on generating a comprehensive timeline of activities and a list of index terms rather than on arrangement and analysis. This fits in with the project’s wish open up the archives for the research and curiosity of others.  

Since establishing our cataloguing system, my daily process of sorting through the Third Eye boxes has become more accurate and efficient. In this week alone I have indexed twice the quantity of boxes that I had been through on the first month of the project.  From blueprint and preparations for the opening of The Third Eye Centre, photographs of the Gables End project, to personal correspondence between Jimmy Boyle and Tom McGrath; the last ten boxes I’ve sorted through are so rich in information and historic texture.  The thought of having to pick just one thing out from one box every week will not be easy, so this week I’ll cheat, and show you all one hundred and three boxes instead.

Image Credt: Carrie Skinner

Monday, 12 March 2012

“It can only work if you are prepared to get involved”

Just eight weeks into this eighteen month project and we are already unearthing some long forgotten artefacts that will help to build up and fill gaps in our collective knowledge and memories of the CCA’s heritage and it's predecessor The Third Eye Centre.

Image Credit: The Third Eye Centre
This cover page comes from an introductory newspaper launching The Third Eye Centre’s inaugural programme over thirty-five years ago in 1975, and it was kindly donated by someone who had heard of the project through a recent newspaper article.  Although we already have stacks of boxes to trawl through and sort, this was a very welcome addition.  Being just a twinkle in my father’s eye in 75’, I am particularly aware that it is the contribution of others through such simple donations or recollections that have the capacity to be the most valuable asset in the projects development.

We are not aiming to write a definitive history of this period. Rather we aim to organise and index, to provide easier access to a spectrum of materials that will provide a starting point for a variety of potential histories.  We hope this will further specialist research and general debate on the subject of contemporary art in Glasgow and beyond, to help ensure Glasgow remains a creative centre with the right conditions for artistic practice. 

Through this blog you will be able to track our progress as we disseminate information about project activities, with posts from all the team involved.  By drawing out ‘highlights’ from the material, we hope to solicit personal reflections and request input from those who may be able to answer some of the many questions the material is already throwing up!

Inviting Glasgow to it’s opening, the founders of the Third Eye Centre wrote of a gallery and programme prepared, “waiting for the one essential ingredient in the whole project – YOU”.  Echoing their sentiment, keep an eye on us and get in touch, whoever you are, with whatever you have to say and share, “It can only work if you are prepared to get involved”.