Today I went to a talk at NRO: Urban areas and their archives: Whose stories do they tell? Susan’s talk is connected to the current photographic exhibition by Chris Skipworth http://www.chrisskipworth.com/. The exhibition explores the NR3 area of Norwich, which most of us know as Anglia Square, Magdalene Street, St Augustines and so on in Norwich. The work captures everyday scenes from work carried out creating a new gyratory road system, pretty much just outside the building that houses my studio.
Susan spoke about one of the changes during her time at NRO. When she started over 30 years ago they turned away photographs as they were not considered to be suitable as archive material. Today obviously things are very different and we see photographic sources are incredibly valuable. One of my favorite photographic collections is the work of Paul Trevor who documented the Whitechapel area. www.vads.ac.uk/collections/EEP.html
The talk explores the differences between rural and urban archives, with the latter being more extensive, due to urban areas being subject to more rapid change, and these changes being recorded. The uneven picture of archives was also discussed and the question about whose stories do they tell. This relates to my earlier post about The Blue Plaque scheme, with only eminent people being considered – what about everyday people? The everyday is a reoccurring theme in my practice investigations, I’m always interested in everyday events and the objects associated with their lives. Susan showed some images from a personal diary, demonstrating the details of both personal and perhaps newsworthy items combined in one document.
Towards the end of the talk Susan spoke about Administrative processes + an event = a document. It was also mentioned how archives don’t have tidy boundaries and that by coincidence is a topic for discussion on tomorrows walking tour which we start, again coincidentally in Anglia Square.