Tag: art

diversity and inclusion in libraries and collections

A cartoon in our archives showing Noreen Murray as a schoolgirl being reprimanded for making clones of herself in the laboratory (a reference to Noreen’s work cloning DNA)

Some interesting equality and diversity activities going on in our libraries and collections:

Equality and Diversity Images Internships

The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections (CRC) has a student internship curating images from our collections that show gender, race and diversity with a view to having these images be used for promotion of the University courses, and as part of courses where they are relevant. The successful outcomes of this have been digitisation of materials, engaging blog posts which have narratives from the collections that raise the profile of resources and narratives in the collections to support work in the area.

Following on from this £10,000 was awarded from the Innovation Fund to engage student interns to look at images and narratives of equality, diversity and community to support Students Association campaigns and encourage student engagement. This will be undertaken in the first 6 months of 2019 and is supported by the Students Association executive.

Project: Revealing and Expanding Diversity in our Library Collections

In 2017-18 Library and University Collections teams worked with Students Association to organise two collection displays in the Main Library. A display in October 2017 celebrated Black History Month and in February 2018 a display celebrated LGBT+ History Month. A small number of additional books were purchased to contribute to the LGBT+ display and to increase the range of Library resources; the LGBT+ display also linked to a display in the Library’s CRC which highlighted first editions of books, signed letters, essays and other manuscripts related to W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood.

The Main Library Black History Month display in October 2018 included 41 new items purchased through the project budget, and the project budget also enabled the purchase of additional display units for the Main Library and the purchase of new display units for New College Library and ECA Library. Further displays in 2018-19 are planned to support the Students Association’s  four Liberation Campaigns (Black and Minority Ethnic – BME, Disabled Students, LGBT+ and Women). Students Association representatives and colleagues from across the University are involved in organising the displays, selecting resources for purchase and communicating the project to students. The displays have been popular with students, with display items being borrowed and students providing positive feedback to staff.

Women’s Collections Cataloguing

The Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections have had an intern for 8 weeks cataloguing the collection of a misrepresented female composer from the 19th century to raise her profile and make the collection available for dissertations and study. The Centre hopes to do more of this type of project – the archive projects team have prioritised how women are described in collections and are reviewing best practice for future cataloguing

Resource Lists

The Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) have also been working with the Student Association’s LiberatEd project to highlight the functionality available to students to suggest new readings for their course resource lists.

Feminist Art Collecting Strategy

In the past few years the Libraries and University Collections (L&UC) has adopted an equality strategy to balance the women artists represented in the University collections. They are actively working with the Principal to diversify the art seen in Old College. For example, of the works that have been collected since 2012, 54% are by female artists.  This has included noteworthy work by significant female artists as well as works that deal with gender representation and diversity concerns.

The Contemporary Art Research Collection

The Contemporary Art Research Collection, established in 2016, is the newest art collection at the University and is the most significant area of activity in the diversification of the collection. The Collection is linked to the research of colleagues in History of Art. Their research and teaching area concerns feminism within the structures of Globalisation. This collection actively redresses the gender imbalance as well as the prevailing geographic focus on Western Europe and therefore enable us to broach new territories in terms of space, media and practice. The works acquired thus far highlight the major concerns of our times and the issues that affect women in particular – for example sex workers rights, care work and housing.

Diversifying display

This gender and diversity bias in the Collection is perhaps highlighted most evidently within the Portrait Collection. The majority of portraits in the collection do not date from the contemporary period and therefore there is an overwhelming imbalance of representation – a recent estimate suggested that approximately 5% of artworks were by female artist or female sitter. This is no more obvious than in the display of works in historical parts of the University like Old College. On the request of the principal, over the last few months work has been carried out internally on how best to rehang Old College to better reflect both the history and diversity of the University community in our displays. This will be an ongoing, long term project.

Vote 100

A pop up exhibition opened in the Main University Library in November 2018, telling the story of how some of the University’s first female graduates pushed the agenda forward for equal enfranchisement in the UK. The exhibition focuses on when Chrystal Macmillan, Frances Simson and Frances Nairn took the fight to the House of Lords in November 1908. Chrystal Macmillan and Frances Simson became the first women to speak in the House of Lords. The exhibition was opened by Diva , Students Association Vice President for Education, who spoke about how inspiring the women were for students today, showing that students had fought for their rights and for equality.

As a result of this project L&UC are helping  RAG week reps with hosting Helen Pankhurst to come and speak in March 2019.

New Internship for Equality, Diversity and Gender in Archive Catalogues

This project will look at the University of Edinburgh’s archive catalogues to explore the description, language and surfacing of women, cultures, communities and diverse groups in these catalogues. Many of the catalogues have been inherited over centuries of collecting, meaning that women and minority groups are often misrepresented or simply missing altogether from the catalogues. This project will require the business school students to analyse our data and explore the issues and problems, coming up with ideas to make them more diverse and inclusive using qualitative and quantities methodologies.

how do I know Edith Simon?

Rosie the Editor
Speaking of women in art and women artists, sometimes this is how my evenings go:

First of all I’m reading ‘Discover’ magazine from National Library of Scotland. In it there’s an article about Edith Simon. I remember Edith Simon. I look her up in Wikipedia. She has a mere stub of a page. I’m thinking it needs some development and presumably the nice ‘open images ‘ policy at NLS will free up some lovely artwork to include.

Then I ask my excellent mother: ‘How do I know Edith Simon?
She was fabulous, Jewish, and she made beautiful paper-cut portraits of your child-hood friends, when they were young, before they died of CF ‘ is the reply.

So, I decide it is my task to improve Edith’s wikipedia page, I find her obituaries etc and I make a start.

As I read about her I learn that her husband Eric worked here at University of Edinburgh in the Genetics department. Those of you who are following this story closely will remember that that is where my father worked. And yes indeed, the line portrait that Clare recently found for me with my father in it, is indeed a work by Edith Simon!

Her obit says:
‘The qualities of intense discipline, exuberant delight in the world of flesh and objects, and sheer graphic ability involved in these productions are rare enough individually. She had them all, together with considerable intellectual power, literary gifts, charm and a mordant wit. She was striking in appearance, trenchant in her views and generous to the young and those in need. ‘

I can’t add that picture to the wikipedia page because the licence belongs to her daughter Antonia Reeve, but I’m still hoping the NLS will liberate some great images for this fabulous woman.

Feel free to join on in and add or edit for Edith.

Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/news/obituaries/edith-simon-1-544516

women in art

Wikipedia editathon for Art & Feminism 2016 at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
Looking very GLAM. Wikipedia editathon for Art & Feminism 2016 at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
Looking back at my original  plans for the Playfair Steps equality and diversity initiative in ISG, one of my hopes was that we would take the opportunity afforded by the move to Argyle House to display more artwork created by women artists.  I’m pleased to say we have done some of that.

If you have ever visited our meeting rooms on Floor E you will have been immersed in an installation by Fabienne Hess.

This installation of images on the glass walls of our meeting rooms in Argyle House is a whole work by  Hess, she was commissioned as part of the refurbishment the office spaces to create a work featuring images of existing objects of University collections. Her work  exploring the University of Edinburgh’s Collections has spanned across several years and she features in current displays at The Talbot Rice.  The process of digitizing, which started in the summer of 2012, has involved photographing almost 25,000 diverse items, from ancient manuscripts to musical instruments, anatomical drawings to historic maps. Throughout the process Fabienne has also created a series of ‘sub-collections’- these groupings, put together in arbitrary themes such as those images containing a red dot, those featuring a person raising an arm, a triangular shape, a certain shade of blue, create a fascinating set of ‘new’ collections. One of these new collections is the installation you are in.  Did you notice?

In the past year our teams of enthusiastic Wikipedia editors have participated in a number of targeted events aimed at improving coverage of women artists. Including one at The National Portrait Gallery to support their Modern Scottish Women exhibition. On the day we created 6 new articles, and improved 8.

In addition to more editing and inspired by Kirsty, I am also looking forward to hosting an intern, in conjunction with colleagues in Centre for Research Collections to look at the metadata which describes our images so that the women ( and others) are more easily found!