Time flies

Niina Apaala
Niina Apaala with ‘Reino’ slippers. Part of the Finns in Brighton project.

I can’t quite believe it is coming up to five months since I last posted a blog entry! I have been busier than usual since January as a big digitisation and photography project begun at the start of the year. To celebrate Helsinki’s designation as Design Capital in 2012, I digitised (with great help from my colleague Carolyn Thompson) and built a digital resource (with great help from my colleague Michael Wilson) consisting of a sizable amount of the Finnish materials we have in the Design Council, ICOGRADA and ICSID archives. To go alongside the archival materials, I also got involved with Brighton’s ever growing Finnish community to discuss what Finnish design means to them. This turned into a photography project which in turn became an exhibition held at the Northern Lights as part of Brighton Fringe 2012. The Fringe Festival finishes at the end of May, but the exhibition will be up at the Northern Lights until the 15 June. Do take a look at the finished digital resource entitled Finnish Design project – a definite labour of love!

Designing Women exhibition, Fashion and Textiles Museum, London, Sirpa Kutilainen
View from the ‘Designing Women’ exhibition currently on at the Fashion and Textile Museum

Last week the Design Archives team were at the Fashion and Textiles Museum for a jointly organised study day entitled ‘Designing Women’. The event saw a very interesting variety of papers delivered from differing points of view, ending in conversation with designer Dr Althea McNish and her husband, designer John Weiss. The ‘Designing Women’ exhibition is on at the Museum until the 16 June and I would strongly recommend anyone with even a slight interest in textiles to go and have a look – fabrics from a selection of post-war women designers are on show including Lucienne Day, Jacqueline Croag and Marian Mahler. Leah Armstrong, a Design Archives / Chartered Society of Designers collaborative doctorate student, also curated a display of portraits of women designers from the Design Council Archive as part of the exhibition.

Dr Althea McNish and John Weiss, Fashion and Textiles Museum, London, Sirpa Kutilainen
Dr Althea McNish and John Weiss in discussion at the ‘Designing Women’ study day, 16 May 2012

On the ‘ongoing work’ front, the Big Poster Project (as I now call it) still continues. Re-housing the large format posters into our new poster cabinet is so entirely dependent on it being quiet here in the Archives that the continuous stream of keen researchers through our doors has meant the surface cleaning and repairing is done when other commitmens allow it. On a very positive note however, I recently counted the number of posters myself and soon-to-be-graduate Suzy Horada have digitised so far – it stands at just shy of 1000! Big plans are being made for the summer term for more digitisation and re-housing with the hope of moving this particular project on leaps and bounds.

Icograda archive, poster, conservation, University of Brighton Design Archives, Sirpa Kutilainen
An advertising poster for a Polish film with German subtitles before tape removal and repairs. Original reference: GB-1837-DES-ICO-3-13-208.

In somewhat old news, for a few weeks in the cafĂ© and restaurant area here on the Grand Parade campus we were showing a selection of great German posters from the ICOGRADA archive. The final cut was made by our archivist Sue Breakell. A few of the posters needed some conservation attention prior to going in frames and on the wall. Above and below here you can see one particularly tricky specimen – the paper this poster was printed on is almost newsprint-like; discoloured into a hue of brown, very fragile and easily damaged. The poster has many tears along its edges that had been previously ‘repaired’ with a white tape. The removal of this tape was particularly challenging due to the fragile nature of the paper and the stickiness of the tape. The tapes have now all been replaced with heat-set tissue repairs that are easy to reverse and remove should they need to be.

Icograda archive, University of Brighton Design Archives, Sirpa Kutilainen
The same poster after tape removal and repairs by heat-set tissue

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