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New project to record, curate and archive 50 years’ worth of feminist stories and memorabilia to secure the legacy of an extraordinary movement

Loughborough University and the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dún Laoghaire, are working together to record, curate, and archive 50 years’ worth of oral histories and digitised records of feminist artists in Ireland and the UK.

Titled ‘Feminist Art Making Histories’, the ambitious digital humanities project aims to unearth 'hidden' and 'untold' stories of feminist art across both islands from the 1970s to the present day, so the transformative and radical advances of this generation are never forgotten.

The three-year-long project, valued at almost £600,000, is supported by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Irish Research Council*, and will be led by Professor Hilary Robinson, of Loughborough’s School of Social Sciences and Humanities, and Dr Tina Kinsella, from the Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Dun Laoghaire.

The team will be completed by co-investigator Dr Amy Tobin (University of Cambridge), and two research assistants, and will be supported by project partner the New Hall Collection of Women's Art, Cambridge, and archive host, the Digital Repository of Ireland.

The stories and accompanying memorabilia – such as leaflets, tickets, and other written items – they gather will be captured digitally and then uploaded to the Digital Repository of Ireland.

This archive will be an invaluable resource for artists, art students, historians, cultural policy-makers, and many others whose work touches on feminist art.  

Of the importance of the research, Professor Robinson and Dr Kinsella said: “Loughborough University and the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun, Laoghaire, welcome this funding announcement.

“The heritage and care for art by women is structurally marginalised within museology, art history, and arts pedagogies.

“It is not valued by the art market, with just 0-to-5 works by women in lists of the 100 most expensive per year in recent sales by living artists.

“Contemporary art textbooks mention few British/Irish feminist artists and have few British/Irish feminist authors.

“Over 50 years history of feminist art in UK/Ireland thus is ‘hidden’ through bias or ignorance.

“The collection and preservation of this archive is urgent for the purposes of current and future knowledge generation, but it is also time-critical insofar as a distressing number of feminist artists, art writers, teachers, and curators active in the 1960s-1970s have already died.

“These critical practitioners, their unique and rare perspective on and testimony to feminist art practice are, for the most part, lost to us in the present day.

“Our aim is to discover and preserve what histories we can from those still able to tell them.”

In addition to curating the digital archive, the researchers will develop appropriate methods to collate and present such a resource and share their methods at the Centre for Digital Humanities, Cambridge, to benefit artists, historians, curators, museologists, teachers, and digital resource developers.

 

The UK partners are granted funding of £325,201 from AHRC, and the Irish partners are granted €240,000 from the Irish Research Council. The grant is awarded to Feminist Art Making Histories by AHRC/Irish Research Council: UK-Ireland under the Collaboration in the Digital Humanities Research Grants Scheme.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 21/159

Additional quotes

Professor Hilary Robinson said: “I am delighted that this project has been funded. It will allow us archive presently untold histories of the meeting of feminism and art in and between these two countries and explore new ways of gathering and presenting the material that honours the feminism, the art, and the artists. This is an urgent project: some brilliant feminist artists have already left us. It is an opportunity of capture the memories, stories and pre-digital ephemera of that extraordinary movement while we still can.”

Dr Tina Kinsella said: “It is extremely encouraging that the IRC and the AHRC are funding this important research. I hope that the creation of this unique archive, which will be stored in the Digital Repository of Ireland, will be an invaluable resource for anybody involved in, associated with or interested in the Creative Arts sector. Most importantly, I am really thrilled that we will be able to capture, and store in perpetuity, the experiences of feminist artists from both Ireland and the UK and, in this way, honour their legacy”.

AHRC

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training, in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.

Visit the AHRC website at: ahrc.ukri.org, on Twitter at @ahrcpress, and on Facebook search for the Arts and Humanities Research Council, or Instagram at @ahrcpress.

Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

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