Sunday, 19 July 2015

ARLIS conference, Cardiff day three review

Day three, and the final day of the conference.

We began with a Special General Meeting, before we got into the final two sessions.

The first focused on 'Practitioners and their Communities', the speakers were Helen Clifford and Sian Lile-Pastore. Helen described her time as Artist in Residence at the WARP (Wales Artist Resource Programme) Library. She was interested in libraries as creative and changing spaces, and threads and interconnections between users and between resources. As a member of staff in the Library at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Helen also explored cataloging and classification, and described how she covered many of the books in the Library so that they had to be opened to discover the contents, brave words in a room full of librarians!

Photo courtesy of Helen Clifford

Sian spoke to us about the National Museum Cardiff Youth Forum and the 'Smashed' alternative guide to the Fragile? contemporary ceramics exhibition that they produced. Key to the success of the project was working with numerous different external partners to guide and advise the group on photography, design, and interview techniques.

After lunch the final session 'Making Visual Visual Resources' definitely fitted into the conference theme of 'mining the resources'. Andrew Ellis updated us on the progress of the Public Catalogue Foundation, and projects such as Tagger and Art Detective which aim to aid discover-ability and fill in gaps in knowledge. John Davies and Kristen Marshall talked to us about the slide collections at the Visual Resources Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University, filling us in on it's background and the threats to it's survival. Kristin described the projects they've undertaken to raise awareness of the collections and hold off on it's disposal, including Project(ed) Voices, #slideoftheday and Adopt a Slide. It was great that at the end of their presentation they were able to announce that the collection was to be transferred to the University's Special Collections department, which should ensure their survival.

Courtesy of @VisResCentreMMU

The last presentation was from Vicky Brown on visual literacy [see slides from her presentation here], she showed us some examples of initiatives that seek to teach visual reading and thinking skills. Her presentation was supposed to be joint with Jenny Godfrey, who unfortunately couldn't attend, but luckily she had conducted a virtual presentation on the same subject earlier and Vicky was able to play a recording. Jenny described to us a project for students called the 'Baby Cage' which was designed to test research and critical thinking as students explore an assigned image [see slides from the presentation here]. Vicky also played us a fab Pathé video that students found relating to the image they'd been investigating.

The conference closed with people rushing off to catch their various trains, all three days had a great buzz and energy about them, roll on Dublin!!

Tweets from Day 3 are Storifyed here.

Fuller write ups of the various sessions will be published in an upcoming issue of Art Libraries Journal.

ARLIS conference, Cardiff day two review

Day two dawned clear, and relatively bright. After breakfast in the School of Management delegates headed into the first session of the day, 'Enterprise in the Arts'.

The overriding theme of the session was in the value of networks and relationships to support creative industries. Alice Taylor described Cardiff University's Mapping Cardiff's Creative Economy project, and gamely filled in for colleague Hannah Bayfield to also discuss REACT (Research & Enterprise in the Arts & Creative Technology). Her presentation complete with 'Jekyll/Hyde game' video was a big hit, and the session was very ably rounded off by Sian Elin Thomas of Sian Elin Designs, a local designer who discussed the benefits and opportunities that participating in networks such as the Cardiff Arts Collective.

The second session of the day, 'The Welsh Landscape', featured Dr Paul Cabuts and Dr Ceri Thomas. both discussed the influence of the Welsh landscape on art. Dr Cabuts showcased The Valleys Project, photographs from the mid-1980s depicting life in the south Wales valleys and attempting to document many of the changes occurring during that period. Dr Thomas presented the work of two Welsh artists, Joan Baker and Ernest Zobole, heavily influenced by links to their local areas. Baker in Cardiff and the south Wales coastline, and Zobole in the Rhondda.

After lunch delegates split off into groups for the breakout sessions. The sessions on 'Introducing Illustration Studies' and the 'Artists Books collections' were full of useful ideas on how to use special collections within teaching, not to mention that they had that visual wow factor! Plenty of interesting suggestions came out of the 'Writing for Publication' workshop run by the editor and deputy editor of the Art Libraries Journal, and the 'Glamorgan Archives Volunteer Programme' showed how archives can engage with their communities. And, in the 'CILIP and ARLIS Membership Discussion' CILIP in Wales officer, Mandy Powell, attempted to bribe attendees with Haribo!

Then it was time to rush off and get ready for dinner in a castle! Delegates were treated to a wine reception in the Library of Cardiff Castle, followed by a short tour and dinner in the banqueting hall. the truly stunning surroundings, great food, and arrival of pudding [!] were a definite highlight of the conference.

Tweets from Day Two are Storifyed here.

ARLIS Conference, Cardiff day one review

On Wednesday Cardiff was still being washed clean by last night’s rain, ready for the afternoon city visits, when delegates began registering at 9am for the 2015 ARLIS Conference. As in all conference organisation, some delays are inevitable – the sun appeared a bit later than expected for the visits, the coaches also appeared later than expected for the visits, and some documents via couriers eventually turned up – but nevertheless the conference and sunshine shone during the day!

Photo via @CardiffMetConf

The opening plenary, by the government head in Wales of ‘Museums, Archives and Libraries’ (MALD), Linda Tomos, was a sweeping view of the scene in Wales, related to the conference theme of the economy, arts and culture, and the links across them. Linda noted the low levels of prosperity across Wales, and hence the need to ‘punch our weight’ with arts and culture ventures, to vitalize other areas of life – social, educational, and economic. Lots of examples were given – and lots of advice: be innovative/entrepreneurial, take opportunities which arise, look for new audiences, link in with major sector themes (where there is usually money attached), get partners/collaborators, and find good ‘champions’ for your cause/sector to assist you.

The second plenary had three fascinating presentations related to – the world of advertising (in WW1), the world of the stage (theatre archives), and the world of Wales (NLW collections). Amanda-Jane Doran spoke about the ‘science of sales’ in WW1 era adverts, and how she appealed to publishers with the theme for her book on this topic. Jo Elsworth from Bristol Theatre Archive talked about their innovative outreach with a wide variety of groups, to make the collections relevant to educational, social, and commercial audiences. Lloyd Roderick from the National Library of Wales gave an amusing and broad perspective on the NLW art collections, and how digitisation is helping to link in with audiences well beyond the borders of Wales.

After lunch two presentations looked at practical examples of ‘art fueling the economy’ with a perspective on the V+A exhibition ‘Savage Beauty’ and the work behind that, by Louise Rytter and Sally Williams; Richard Morris, Dean at Cardiff Metropolitan University, looked at enterprise and business foundations for modern art students coming into the world of work. (Later that evening a Cardiff Met. Student, A.J. Stockwell gave a fascinating insight into her venture into the workplace via an assisted scheme within the university).

Delegates then scattered to the four corners of Cardiff, on art and architectural tours of Cardiff Bay, the City Centre, and various libraries and galleries – if walking tours can be described as ‘whirlwind’, these were examples!

The evening finished on a high note, with the launch of the latest in the series of the ARLIS ‘Art Researchers’ Guide’ books, with the volume on Cardiff and south Wales; again a credit to Rose Roberto and her editorial team for another fine volume (on sale via ARLIS, Cardiff University Library, and the National Museum of Wales, and all ‘good’ bookshops of course)! The after dinner quiz was a hoot, the most difficult question being ‘what happened to the pudding’ – nobody got that right!

Peter Keelan, Cardiff University Library,
Special Collections and Archives.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Pre-conference drinks

Are you arriving in Cardiff for the ARLIS Conference on the Tuesday evening?
If so, why not join us for a drink at the Maltsters pub on Cardiff Road in Llandaff?

We will be there from about 6.30pm. It’s only a 10 minute walk down from the accommodation to the pub, which is right in the heart of Llandaff. They also have a very nice food menu for those who want to grab a bite to eat.

So if you are arriving early, hope to see you there!

Countdown to conference

We are all getting excited for the ARLIS Conference in Cardiff next week.

If you are a Twitter user, and you don’t already follow @ARLIS_UK, now would be a perfect time to start. Our tweeters will be tweeting and blogging from the conference under the hashtag #ARLIS2015.

For those of you who can’t be there, follow the hashtag to get a flavour of what’s going on, and for those who are attending please share with us your thoughts and impressions of the various sessions.