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

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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.

More on the project and the other new digital humanities research projects announced by AHRC and the Irish Research Council can be found here.


*  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.