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Bummock: Artists in Archives

Bummock: New Artistic Responses to Unseen Parts of the Archive seeks to investigate, research and use unseen parts of archives as catalysts for the creation of new artworks.

The Bummock research project investigates art in archives.

Bummock: The Lace Archive, Backlit Gallery, Nottingham, 2018. Installation view showing Danica Maier Man Hole, (wall paint), Andrew Bracey, WV1723, (artists book) and reproductions of documents from the Lace Archive. ©Photographer Sian Vaughan

Research project title:  Bummock: Artists in Archives

Duration of project: 2015 –  ongoing

Researchers

  • Sian Vaughan 
  • Danica Maier (Nottingham Trent University)
  • Andrew Bracey (Lincoln University)
  • Lucy Renton (Kingston University and University of East London)
  • Sarah Bennett (Kingston University)

Research background

Dr Sian Vaughan is a co-investigator on Bummock: New Artistic Responses to Unseen Parts of the Archive, devised and led by artist-researchers Danica Maier and Andrew Bracey.

Through artists’ residencies this project seeks to investigate, research and use unseen parts of archives as catalysts for the creation of new artworks.

It also explores the development of a ‘control rummage’ methodology for researching the unseen/unknown that can be expanded from artistic practice to other forms of archival research.

Overall, the project examines issues about how artists approach access to archives differently to standard practices.

The aim is to create artistic responses in unexpected ways, to generate new readings, new knowledge and new artworks.

Through each Bummock residency, the project also generates discussion about research methods and the unseen and/or unvalued parts of archives.

How has the research been carried out?

The Bummock project consists of a series of discreet yet connected artist residencies with different types of archive collection.

Maier and Bracey work with a different artist in each residency which combines several group visits to the archive collection, collaborative and individual artists’ studio time, practice research and qualitative interviews, culminating in an exhibition and laboratory/ symposium.

As a co-investigator, Dr Vaughan brings specialist contextual knowledge of archival practice and the literature on archives and contemporary art, as well as undertaking interviews and participant-observations.

Bummock completed a pilot project (ACE funded) working within The Lace Archive held at Nottingham Trent University with artist Lucy Renton. In October 2017 the project started a three-year artists residency (ACE and artsNK funded) within the Tennyson Research Centre and artist Sarah Bennett.

The Bummock research project investigates art in archives.

Bummock: The Lace Archive, Backlit Gallery, Nottingham, 2018. Installation view showing Danica Maier Score (hand crank music boxes and hole punched music strips) with reproduction of technical drawing from the Lace Archive and a marimba, ©Photographer Sian Vaughan

Outcomes and impact

Each Bummock residency concludes with ‘flipping the Bummock’, allowing these hidden aspects of both the specific archival collection and the artistic research practice to become a visible ‘tip’ (of the iceberg).

This is manifested in exhibitions, a catalogue publication of critical essays and documentation, and a public conference or symposium framed as a further research laboratory.  

The intention is that the project’s research and the methodologies established will be of use for future archive organisations and for artists working collaboratively on different types of projects.

To date Bummock: The Lace Archive has resulted in a touring exhibition (Backlit Gallery, Nottingham 2018 and the Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge, 2019); a public symposium in 2018; and a published catalogue in 2019.

Public events and workshops have been held alongside the touring exhibition, and in Lincolnshire as part of the Tennyson Research Centre residency (Waddington Art Walk, 2019).

The final exhibition on the Tennyson Research Centre residency is currently planned for The Collection Museum, Lincoln in Spring 2021.

The Bummock project has been presented at conferences by Maier and Bracey (Archives Unbound, Cardiff 2017; Textile and Place, Manchester 2018) and Vaughan (Rethinking the Past, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon 2018).  

Bummock: The Lace Archive was also the subject of a journal article in Textile (Townsend, 2019).