Thursday, 20 December 2012

Visit to Nitshill - Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC)

Hello again,

Within the last couple of weeks before the coming festive holiday I have been continuing with the cataloguing of Cordelia and George Oliver's articles and photographs, along with some personal research into the period. Besides this the volunteers of the project had, and took, the opportunity to go on a field trip!

Within the past week both the volunteer archive assistants and researchers paid a visit to the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) at Nitshill. I can honestly say, I was astonished by the scale of the available resources and goals of this facility. To give you a little background; the GMRC is a purpose-built facility that stores materials and artefacts owned by Glasgow when they are not on display in any of the City's museums or galleries. As we were repeatedly informed by our lovely tour guide, that is a million-or-so objects conveniently stored in one space, ranging from: an armoury of medieval weapons, paintings, animals suffering from taxidermy, stone monuments, to fish-shaped coffins. Impressively, this facility is not only built to store these artefacts but to make them publicly accessible; providing eager support to researchers and to anyone showing an interest in any of the materials or their backgrounds.

Photo courtesy of the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre

( please follow this link for more information on the GMRC, including the learning opportunities for children and schools, its collection and how to get in touch if you wish to pursue this further).

This made viewing the materials particularly interesting on the tour as we could see how the storage was designed to facilite this with the best example probably being how the paintings were stored. If you imagine a shelf of CDs and how you might pull out each one to find the correct artist, and then replace those CDs with several warehouse sized walls which can be pulled out, and on which several paintings are hung, you will have some idea of what I mean. It is truly impressive how the facility is looking to accomodate public access to these materials, and is well worth a look if you have the time.

Besides this, the GMRC is currently in the process of cataloguing their own library, as well as the library materials of other museums in Glasgow (The Burrell, Transport Museum and Kelvingrove), which can be used to provide background into many of the objects stored there. Again this is open to the public, and you will find the head librarian incredibly helpful in providing information if there is anything you are particularly interested in.

I was also made aware of some of the attempts of the centre to digitise their materials. In particular, the tour guide highlighted the creation of an online resource which is attempting to photograph every painting in the GMRC's possession (an incredible undertaking). If you follow this link, you will be able to see some of their vast collection (3000 uploaded so far and counting).

Overall I found this an exceptionally interesting visit, and was delighted by how engaging the GMRC staff were. Their enthusiastic response to questions made them very approachable and a pleasure to deal with. If you have the time and inclination it is well worth a visit.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

My first time exploring an archive

Hello, this is Cedric Tai, one of the project research assistants and also I’m currently in the GSA’s Masters of Fine Arts program. I thought it would be nice to go into a little bit of why I’m volunteering as well as to show some of the items that popped out from my immersion in the Third Eye Centre archive. 

Image credit: Rowan Gallery, London 1971, John Web Photography, Surrey c. 1971
Image is courtesy of the Third Eye Centre/CCA
This photo for example is an interesting example of what tends to catch your eye, actual works of art hidden between expense reports and correspondence letters. In this case, darkroom developed photographs used to serve as promotional material; this is documentation of the piece “On the Shelf”, 1970. Glass, metal, water by Michael Craig-Martin.

Originally from Detroit, I committed myself to a heavy involvement within the arts community there. Perhaps it was in a reciprocal way to thank all the people that have supported my own artistic development. One of the first reasons I am interested in this archival project is to possibly follow the idea of Glasgow as a good case study for Detroit’s art scene noting the strategic development and grassroots efforts.

Sarah Lowndes mentions Detroit in her book Social Sculpture: The Rise of the Glasgow Art Scene a couple times. She quotes John Sinclair, manager of the MC5, as well as Kevin Saunderson lamenting an unsupported cultural scene in their times. In 2010, the directors of two of the largest spaces for contemporary art, MOCAD in Detroit and Tramway in Glasgow, came together to chat about similarities between the community-driven art scenes. David Byrne also notes the connection on his blog too.

The early days of the Third Eye Centre and Blythswood square reveal a search for a model as well, and the various brainstorming maps and doodles put one into the mind-set of a fresh endeavour with diversified ambitions. Perhaps this is also why within the small organization that certain people are covering so many different roles. 

The image is courtesy of the Third Eye Centre/CCA

I’ve also become involved because I want to develop research skills, and what better way than through real world, hands on involvement that has embedded within it implications for future researchers? 

So far I have been coming in every Wednesday and thinking about how both the Third Eye Centre and the archives within the school both provide a dynamic kind of accessibility. This can be understood in how the staff here are open to various interpretations and uses of the archive by the GSA students. Within the Third Eye archive it can be read in their reports of exhibitions such as The Garnett Hill Exhibition, Unemployment, and Art on the Dole. They provided a range of programming in which participation could inform their development from seminars to symposiums, workshops and even international trips to research community and public art.

The archive of the Third Eye Centre will impact the legacy of the art scene here in Glasgow, and it has already spurred some debates. What made it so accessible? Will this bring up any differences between the artist-led institution, the non-artist-led institutions and even in contrast to purposely not trying to create an institution in the first place?  

Considering that this archive like many others is just a skeleton, it’s apparent that perhaps rather than trying to produce research entirely within the archive itself, I will need to embark upon my own interviews to better fill in the references contained (or not) in the archive. I plan on posting musings and to highlight findings and perhaps this archive will seem in some way more accessible, where someone could feel quite comfortable perusing down a list of contents, and picking up where we leave off.


Actual Screenshot from my computer of the Third Eye Box List courtesy of the Third Eye Centre/CCA
 This is an image of what we look through right before we select a box. It can be a little disappointing if one just goes through the Timeline of the Third Eye Centre that Carrie Skinner has developed, because although it speaks to the richness of the programming over the years, that doesn’t necessarily mean the archive contains anything other than a reference that it happened, and even that is debatable.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Introducing Cordelia and George Oliver

Going through the articles by Cordelia Oliver, and photographs taken by George Oliver is proving to be a fascinating and enlightening experience. At the moment I am working through the articles by Cordelia that review exhibitions, performances, events etc. and I am beginning to get a feel for the person behind them. I can tell you, she does not pull her punches. The brilliant thing about them is the simple frank appraisal given without any kind of pandering or bias, seemingly to either friend or foe. It has already been mentioned that Cordelia played a key role in the set up of the Third Eye Centre and although I have not yet reached the year when the Centre opened (I am currently still in 1970), I am looking forward to seeing whether her reviews begin to reflect its approach.

For those interested, a good obituary for Cordelia can be found on The Guardian website here,
and on the Scotsman website here,

Some of the boxes I will be working my way through.
It is only recently that I have started looking at the photographs taken by George Oliver and there is much work to be done judging by these boxes. Fabulous hairstyles aside, these photos have already given me an insight into the unusual and diverse activities that took place at the Third Eye Centre. Below you will see one of the first photos I came across, the ribbon cutting at the opening of the Third Eye. Stay posted for more updates.

'The George and Cordelia Oliver Collection'