All The Better To See You With: Making Visible The Archive of Gwyneth Alban Davis

Ross, Heather orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1306-8683 and Hornby, Lukas (2017) All The Better To See You With: Making Visible The Archive of Gwyneth Alban Davis. [Artefact]

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In early 2017 I co-founded 'Typ-ooo North' with Lukas Hornby (Chapel Street Studio, Bradford) to re-print an archive (housed at Merz Barn, Cumbria) belonging to the late printmaker Gwyneth Alban Davis. This project is supported by Heritage Lottery Fund 'Sharing Heritage. It commenced in April 2017 and will be completed by October 2017

Our project aims to re-activate important archival material, belonging to the late Gwyneth Davies, a printmaker and contemporary of the artist Kurt Schwitters, during his time in exile at Elterwater (1945-48). Currently housed at Merz Barn, Gwyneth's archive is in a state of disrepair; her press is out of alignment, unusable and exposed to the elements and the 60+ wooden relief etched printing blocks, made during her time in the Lakes, have never been re-printed, catalogued and included in scholarship relating to Kurt Schwitters experience in exile. Our project aims to re-activate the press: firstly making visible -through re-printing- the work of Gwyneth Alban and the rich history of artistic endeavour once present at this site. The press can then be used as an active resource; as a site for generating workshops, engaging with the community, new audiences and helping to contextualise history through practical engagement with archival material. Our project will involve: photographing, cataloguing and finally re-printing Gwyneth's blocks; calibrating the press to working order for future use and commissioning a protective cover; building a housing unit to store the letterpress archive/ materials for printing; purchasing materials to print with (rollers, inks, aprons etc); generating a three day event in which local schools, businesses and the public can be shown printing techniques, observe the blocks being printed for the first time since 1948 and engage with the history of the site through practical and fun activities; create a catalogue to be widely distributed to generate an awareness of this history and the new resources/facilities held at Merz Barn; entering these prints into a museum/gallery's collection (The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle) which would encourage continued future engagement with this heritage. This year will be the 70th anniversary of Kurt Schwitters Merz Barn and will see the re-opening and re-contextualisation of The Merz Barn Wall in the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, the awarding of a funded Kurt Schwitters in Britain PhD and various celebratory events in and around this site. Our project would dovetail with these events, aiming to share this heritage and bring it to life. We aim to make visible Gwyneth's artistic contribution to the history of this site and in doing so, share and disseminate new documents of history; contribute to future scholarship; make new links with the site. On a more practical note we would make this heritage more relevant through encouraging a practical interaction with archival material.

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