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We’ve declared it Way Back Wednesday here at the Archives and Collections! Our Skills for the Future trainee Jennifer Lightbody has been collecting data from various Audio Visual films created by previous GSA alumni as part of her Audio Visual Project. Jennifer updates us below.

I’ve been at the GSA Archives and Collections for 6 weeks now and I’m making good progress on my audio-visual project.

We hold nearly 260 audio-visual files and my focus so far has been to identify which ones are fashion shows from the 1970s and 80s. It’s sometimes hard to tell from the filenames what the film content is so I’ve been watching a lot of footage recently! This task is now complete so it looks like we have around 8 films which are fashion shows from that era, and a further 15 which are from the same period and link in, or are more recent fashion shows.

A number of garments from the 1985 fashion show followed an Oriental theme.

A number of garments from the 1985 fashion show followed an Oriental theme.

It’s been a real eye-opener to see what the students have been designing and making, and the next step is to record details of the garments, plus those involved in the modelling, filming and producing of the films. I’ll be contacting staff and alumni to pick their brains and put names to faces in the films. I’m also intending to speak with the current fashion design students and find out what type of information is useful to them, to inform what I include in the catalogue. A number of items in our collection pertain to the fashion shows, such as programmes, posters and photographs so I’ve started searching the catalogue to find these.

A large part of the work is data capture so I’m in my element with colour-coded spreadsheets and hyperlinks! I’ve discovered an occupational hazard of watching the films however – songs from the 80s on the soundtracks which get stuck in my head for days…

It’s been great to learn more about the fashion design course, but also the wider GSA. I’ve recently been on one of the Mackintosh at the GSA tours, finding out about the design of the Mackintosh Building and how the design of the Reid Building has complemented features in the Mack. It’ll be great to see how original features make it back into the restored building in a couple of years’ time. I’ve been learning too about the Archives and Recovery project and the conservation work going on there.

My traineeship at GSA is also giving me the opportunity to visit other archives, to find out what they hold and how they run. I have been to Harper Collins and the Ballast Trust, to learn more about business archives and explore the Ballast Trust’s work with shipbuilding records, linking with my previous career!

Since my last blog I’ve also been at the Skills for the Future “basecamp” at the National Records of Scotland (NRS) in Edinburgh. This event brought together the Scottish trainees plus our English counterparts on the Transforming Archives scheme, hearing from a number of organisations. We also toured the NRS conservation studios and heard from trainees from previous cohorts. The two NRS trainees then hosted their cohort visit, running a Digital Preservation “Dragon’s Den” style workshop, to get us thinking about how to plan and implement digital preservation.

Between visits and conferences on audience engagement and promoting archives, my calendar is quickly filling up, but I’m enjoying having a number of different aspects to work on and being immersed in the day-to-day life of the archive!

Visual diagram produced as part of Digital Preservation cohort day.

Visual diagram produced as part of Digital Preservation cohort day.