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Art and Design Postgraduate Training Day

British Library, St Pancras, London
1 December 2009 09:30-16:00

The British Library is running a series of free training days for postgraduates at the British Library aimed at introducing first year postgraduate researchers to their collections and services in a variety of subjects. The days are designed to introduce postgraduates to the library and demonstrate the relevance of the collections housed here to their current and future studies and also remove any anxieties they may have about visiting and using the Library. The aim is to capture researchers at the beginning of their research career, ideally in the first year of their PhD, to encourage them to make use of the library throughout their research course or project.

Art and Design PhD students from across the UK are invited to attend a specially tailored day of talks, workshops and networking opportunities at the British Library.  The day will include a general introduction to relevant material and sources and special sessions will cover Oral History Collection, Futurist Books, Book Arts/Artist’s Books, A beginner's guide to intellectual Property, Photography & Moving Images and Sound by Artists.

The day will:

  • Introduce you to the range of research materials available in the British Library
  • Enable you to attend special workshops 
  • Show you how to access online and electronic catalogues, and carry out bibliographic research on your topic 
  •  Introduce you to specialist curators at the Library 
  • Give you an opportunity to meet and network with postgraduate students from other universities across the UK

Programme *

09:30 – 10:00    Registration and coffee
10:00 – 10:15    Introduction to the Day (Dr Joanna Newman, Head of Higher Education, BL)
10:15 – 10:45    Overview of Library collections in the British Library (Speaker TBC)
10:50 – 11:50    Curator Session
11:50 – 12:10    Refreshment Break
12:15 – 13:15    Curator Session
13:15 – 14:15    Lunch Break
14:15 – 15:15    Panel Discussion
15:15- 15:30    Prize Draw
15:30 – 16:00    Networking

*subject to change

Curator Sessions

You have the opportunity to attend two of the sessions described below:

  1. Oral History Collection:  

Rob Perks, Curator Oral History, and

Cathy Courtney, Project Officer Sound Archive

This workshop will give an overview of the BL Sound Archive's oral history collections and activities, highlighting collections of particular relevance to art and design.  The Curators will also play a number of audio extracts and give some examples of how existing oral history material can be used in postgraduate research.  Art and design collections that will be showcased include: Artists’ Lives (run in association with Tate Archive and with input from the Henry Moore Institute), An Oral History of British Photography, Architects’ Lives, interviews with Pentagram designers, Crafts Lives and An Oral History of Wolff Olins.  The talk will also highlight some of the basic concepts for researchers to consider when recording oral history interviews. 

  2.  Futurist Books: 

Peter Hellyer, Curator, Russian Collections, Slavonic and East European Collections, and

Chris Michaelides, Curator, Italian Section, West European Collections 

Two presentations on the British Library's collections of Futurist material. The first, on its rich collection of Italian Futurist publications, will highlight their innovative use of typography and graphic design, with examples showing their experimental 'words-in-freedom’, collage techniques, and use of materials such as tin or aluminium. The second will show how the Russian Futurists' visual style was influenced by Russian folk-art, iconography and primitive art filtered through a knowledge of Cubism and contemporary art movements.  Focusing on handwritten lithographed artists' books, it will trace the development of Cubo-Futurism, Rayonism and Suprematism and the achievement of a new integration of image and word.

 3. Book Arts/Artists' books
   Stephen Bury, Head of European & American Collections
   Richard Price, Head of Modern British Collections
The workshop will focus on how artists in the 20th and 21st centuries have used the book format to explore ideas about narrative, documentation, the archive and the relationship of text and image. It will also discuss the future of artists' books in the digital world.

 4. A beginner's guide to intellectual property
   Curators to be confirmed

An understanding of intellectual property and its protection is vital for anyone with an idea, whether it’s an invention, a product or a creative output.
This session will introduce the four areas of intellectual property and help you understand which may apply to you and your business:
•    Patents
•    Trade marks
•    Registered designs
•    Copyright

5. Sound By Artists
    Stephen Cleary, Curator of Drama and Literature, Sound Archive

A presentation of the British Library’s holdings of sound by artists, which will cover original audio artworks, installation soundtracks and sound poetry, as well as ancillary research material such as interviews, talks and discussions. The Library’s holdings of video documentation of contemporary performance and live art will also be discussed. 

6. Photography & Moving Images
   John Falconer, Head of Visual Materials
   Luke McKernan, Curator, Moving Image
This presentation will cover the photographic and moving image collections of the British Library, focussing on their relevance to art and design. Areas to be covered include the Library's photographs of Africa, the Pacific and Africa, historic photographs of the British Isles, photographic books, recordings of television programmes 1985-1999, and the popular music and silent cinema video collections.

7. Graphic Art in the British Library
    Felicity Myrone, Curator of Topography
The British Library holds a vast collection of prints, drawings and paintings, often of unique artistic and historical importance. With a chance to view a selection of our rich and varied holdings of materials such as illustrated and extra-illustrated books, prints, drawings, oil paintings, illuminated manuscripts, brass rubbings, maps, plans and views, this session will explore the history of the collections, their dispersal across the Library, our relationship with the Department of Prints and Drawings at The British Museum, and the various manuscript, printed and digital finding aids available.

Plenary Session

Speakers will be drawn from the pool of previous Pearson Creative Research Fellows at the British Library who will discuss their experience of using the British Library’s collections to inspire their creative work. Details of the plenary session and the contributors are still be finalised and these will be made available as soon as they are confirmed.

Prize Draw

National Postgraduate Training Days are run annually and we wish to ensure that they meet the needs of researchers. To help us do this, we will ask you to complete a feedback form, which will be used to enter you into a prize draw to win book tokens and a gift from the British Library book shop. You will be given time at the end of the day to complete your feedback form and the winner will be drawn immediately afterwards.

Contact Name:
Sophie Villiers
Contact Telephone:
+44 (0)20 7412 7309
Contact Email:

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