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UAL Research Online

Development of 'Artists' Lives'

Courtney, Cathy (2001) Development of 'Artists' Lives'. British Library Sound Archive

Type of Research: Other
Creators: Courtney, Cathy

'Artists Lives' is an oral history project, part of the National Life Stories Collection (NLSC) at the British Library Sound Archive.

Cathy Courtney initiated and developed ‘Artists’ Lives’, an oral history project within the National Life Stories Collection (NLSC) at the British Library Sound Archive, run in association with Tate Archive and in consultation with an Advisory Committee. The first recordings were made in 1990; between 2001 and 2007 approximately 60 life story interviews were added, including Alan Bowness, Peter Blake, Ian Breakwell, Michael Craig Martin, John Hoyland and Paula Rego. To date there are 250 recordings ranging from Eileen Agar (1899-1991) to Abigail McLellan (b.1969).

‘Artists’ Lives’ documents first-hand material, which would otherwise be lost, foregrounding the language and testimony of artists to confirm or challenge the conceptual framework, vocabulary and concerns of critics, art historians and other commentators. In 2003, the project expanded to include life stories with ‘art professionals,’ such as officers of the Arts Council, Museum Directors and Dealers.

Historically, British oral history has often focused on rural and industrial occupations, regarding the arts as ‘elitist’. ‘Artists’ Lives’ is unique in the field of the arts in its scope and scale and situates its recordings within the broader social history context of NLS wider collections. The life story methodology allows comparison not only within ‘Artists’ Lives’ but across the whole of NLS holdings at the British Library Sound Archive. Architects’ Lives, Crafts Lives, Lives in Design, Fashion Lives and An Oral History of British Theatre Design are sister projects developed from the success of Artists’ Lives. Courtney has provided essays and edited interviews for a range of books and catalogues derived from material collected within the recordings, including studies of Jo Self, Anthony Fry and Richard Slee.

Official Website: http://www.bl.uk/collections/sound-archive/nlsc.html
Additional Information (Publicly available):

Cathy Courtney is a freelance writer and oral historian, and also a Trustee of the archive of theatre designer Jocelyn Hebert. In her role as Project Officer for National Life Stories, an oral history organisation based at the British Library Sound Archive, Courtney has created Artists' Lives and Architects' Lives as well as steering other NLS projects.

Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: British Library Sound Archive
Your affiliations with UAL: Other Affiliations > RAE 2008
Colleges > Wimbledon College of Arts
Date: 1 January 2001
Funders: Henry Moore Foundation, Yale Center for British Art, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Jerwood Foundation, Rootstein Hopkins Foundation, Fleming Collection
Related Websites: http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelprestype/sound/ohist/ohnls/nlsart/artistslives.html, http://www.wimbledon.arts.ac.uk/41141.htm
Related Websites:
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2009 00:43
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2010 13:39
Item ID: 1839
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1839

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