In August 2018, we opened a public survey for artists and artists’ estates to collate your views on the state of art archives across the UK. For artists and artists’ estates, a coherent archive is critical. It is our job to make archiving easy, accessible and applicable to as many practices as possible.
Your survey submissions have helped us build a better picture of current challenges, future aspirations and motivating factors behind the need to create an archive; they helped us understand your individual and shared needs so that we can improve our services and extend the reach of our support.
Let’s take a look at the results!
We asked if you knew the exact location of your key artworks.
24% of you didn’t know the exact location of your key artworks. 22 (75%) of you said yes, 7 (24%) said no.
Do you archive social media posts?
“I rely on my website 'shows' list and do not actively archive Twitter or Instagram and Facebook posts. If I knew how I would...”
86% of you don’t archive social media posts related to your work. Of the 29 responses, 25 of you said no (86%), and only 4 (14%) of you said yes.
Do you keep a record of important email correspondence?
9 (31%) of our 29 respondents said no, 20 (68%) said yes.
Would additional help with the archiving of your artworks benefit your productivity and working life?
Responses were unanimous – 100% of you answered ‘yes’.
We asked you how you feel about the current state of your archive.
The responses we received veered from positive and enthusiastic, to concerned and urgent. In your own words you told us:
“It’s a project in progress”
“Only I can find things. If someone else stepped in, not a chance!”
“Chaotic, time-consuming, overwhelming”
“Vague and not yet considered.”
“Not perfect, but improving”
“Concerned it’s patchy and not professional.”
“It’s ragged and inconsistent.”
“Worried. It is not systematic, and a lot of my video work is on drives I have not run for a while. I have lost 3 drives recently and do not know what’s on them.”
“Quite comprehensive but worryingly unruly”
“Years of interesting work ahead”
6. We asked you what you hope for the future of your archive. Here is what you said:
“I hope for it to be part of an archive of British artists, in a national museum/art gallery open to the public. I would also like it to be part of an exploration of the work of female artists working in a (still) male dominated art world.”
“Intelligent continuity after I am no longer able to manage it.”
“I hadn't thought about its future. Because having enough space is always a problem simply for working in, the thought of finding space for archive material seems an additional strain. Hence, periodic clear-outs. Sometimes you can feel weighed down by material and it is refreshing to get rid of it. Should I really worry about an archive? I don't know.”
“It would be good to find a way to let archiving happen in tandem with the daily practice; to have the key tools in hand to archive as we go, on a light basis, that would nonetheless allow for a thorough approach if and when needed.”
“Ideally I would like in my lifetime for them to service me and anyone who is interested in them. In my death, I would not be worried if they were destroyed, or at least left in a way that my son would not have to worry about them or have to work on them.”
“To be accessible, intuitive and manageable.”
“To find someone to help me organise myself as I have thousands of prints of past work which I could now be selling.”
“We would like to digitise important project material and find a good way of storing past project materials.”
“To be a true recorded inventory of my work in digital format.”
“To have it sorted, ordered and made usefully accessible for researchers. To have it placed in an appropriate professional 'master-archive'.”
“As I already have some work in a museum collection and I am sending work to New York next month I would like to get a handle on the where my pieces are in the world before my catalogue grows. I'm glad I've found Art360 at this early stage in my career. As I am self-taught and have no formal arts training I am still getting to grips with the business side of the art world and this app will help me immensely.”
“Accessible to me and others. To be able to find threads and stories in the work.”
“That it becomes publicly accessible.”
“Catalogue everything, digitize everything, produce a safeguarding model that guarantees long term maintenance and access. Find a succession model and a home for all works in 3 years. Ensure it is meaningful and 'used' by a wide audience.”
“My archive should be clear, thorough, and easy to navigate to find work and information, so that, in the future, my work will be seen and understood.”
“I want my late husband's archive to be dynamic, highly visual, careful, playful, curated and truthful. We hope to complete a film and digital catalogue of most of his vast collection of archive materials, both these processes have begun, and the bulk of the work will hopefully be done in another three years opening the way for a richer creative understanding of the historical and unique context in which he worked. I hope to draw in funds to complete the work to a good standard and to benefit from Art360’s investment in archiving through training, software and support.”
Thank you again for taking part in our survey. We hope these results provide useful information for you. Please continue to send us any other feedback or anecdotes to firstname.lastname@example.org, and @Art360Fdn on Twitter and Instagram.