Background to the Photographers' Archives Research Project
We are living in a period of huge expansion in independent photographic practice. Since the mid 1960s, hundreds of photographers have made new work, frequently in the form of sustained series, which explore artistic as well as social, cultural and political issues. Much of this work has been supported through Arts Council and other public funds and has resulted in publications and exhibitions in public galleries, experienced by a wide range of audiences.
Photographers’ archives – their work and the contextual material relating to their work – are potentially very valuable resources to individuals, communities and wider arts and culture. However, there is little discussion about the future legacy of physical archives in the UK, neither for established mid or late-career photographers with a large collection of prints and related material, nor among early-career practitioners with small but growing archives.
Artists, both established and emerging, need to think through the implications for their work, what future they want for it, what level of public access, and how much supporting and contextual information should be retained and made available. This project is investigating these questions through case studies and research leading to practical guidance for current and future generations of practitioners.