Committee for Art & Design Archives

This committee is no longer active.


The Committee for Art & Design Archives works to encourage best practice amongst those working with art and design archives including archivists, librarians, curators and artists. It aims to promote awareness and understanding of such collections amongst researchers and information professionals and to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue about their management, care and exploitation. The Committee works both collaboratively and independently putting on training days and workshops, organising visits and producing publications. Recent events have included The Archivist as Curator: exhibiting collections, from conception to realization and review (White Cube, London, 2013 and 2014) and Copyright and Art Archives (London Metropolitan Archives, 2015).  Publications include First Steps in Archives: a practical guide (2004), selected papers from The Archival Impulse: Artists and Archives available online in Tate Papers, Issue 9 (Spring 2008), and All This Stuff: Archiving the Artist (2013).

Past Events

Symposium: Matter and Meaning: Materiality and the Visual Arts Archive

Where: University of Brighton, Room M2, Grand Parade, BN2 0JY

When: Friday 23 September, 2016, 10.00-18.00

Within the expanding digital environment that encompasses our professional and personal experience, ideas of materiality have received extensive recent attention, across a range of disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, art history, literary studies and material culture.  As yet, archival theory and practice have given limited consideration to materiality as an approach to the archive. Conservation practices, while focussing on material qualities of archives, may not attend to more philosophical implications beyond technical research. This symposium seeks to reach across and between these various bodies of knowledge, considering materiality as a framework for analysing, interpreting and engaging with archives of art and design.

Please click here to see the full programme for the day and here to read the speakers' abstracts.

The Archivist as Curator: exhibiting collections, from conception to realization and review

Where: White Cube, Bermondsey Street, London.

When: Thursday 23 May, 2013, 10.30-17.00

This study day explores the practice of displaying archive material in hard-copy and digital format, from the conception of an idea/theme through to post exhibition feedback and analysis. It covers how to identify the most appropriate platform for display, who to involve, how to select and prepare material, promotion and feedback as well as a range of practical concerns such as conservation, insurance, and copyright. The speakers are all experts in the field having, between them, a wide range of experience planning and exhibiting multi-format archival material, including photographs and audio-visuals, in a variety of ways.

For further information and to book a place go to the Events Page.


All This Stuff: Archiving the Artist. 2013

All This Stuff: Archiving the Artist explores the documentation of the creative process. From their different viewpoints, fifteen leading artists, archivists and art historians, reflect on ways that artists and archivists deal with 'all this stuff' and how artists manage and relate to their own archives.

Introduced by Clive Phillpot, All This Stuff includes artists and writers such as Gustav Metzger, Bruce McLean, Barbara Steveni, John Latham, Barry Flanagan, Edward Burra, Penelope Curtis and Neal White.

All This Stuff: Archiving the Artist breaks new ground in the field of archive theory, documenting the innovative ways in which the arts are challenging the distinctions, processes and crossovers between artworks and archives. This critical reexamination exemplifies how the field of art archiving is changing theory and practice and our understanding of what an archive is, or could be.

Valuable insights are given into the archival process, addressing questions about what material artists should be keeping and what may happen to it after it has been accepted by an archival institution. This book also explores how archives can be made accessible using original and non-traditional approaches, and the unpredictable ways in which they may be recontextualised, explored and interpreted in the future.

2013 ISBN 9781907471766. Price: £25

For more details and to a see a list of all ARLIS/UK & Ireland publications go to the Publications Page.

First Steps in Archives: a practical guide. 2004

This publication is a straightforward introduction to the key principles of archive work and is designed for anyone whose collections include archive material but who has no formal training in this area. It includes contributions from experienced archivists on the core subjects of acquisitions and appraisal, cataloguing, preservation, reader services and marketing, as well as a glossary of archive terms. ISBN 0951967495. Price: £25 for ARLIS/UK & Ireland members; £30 for non-members

To order a copy and to a see a list of all ARLIS/UK & Ireland publications go to the Publications Page.

Selected papers presented at the Art Archives Committee 2007 study day entitled The Archival Impulse: Artists and Archives are available online in:

Tate Papers, Issue 9, Spring 2008.

Useful Links

Selected Web Links (PDF) (168KB)

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