Pre-Sessional English: The Exploration in/of the GSA Archives

It was a joy to see what the students from the first intake of this years Pre-Sessional English cohort made of GSA Archives! See their fantastic creative outputs in the gallery below, along with a blog post about their experiences with us. This blog post was  written jointly by Lijie, Zeng and Handong, Yu, and edited by their classmates and tutors. The photos were taken by Huang and posted here with the permission from the persons in the photos.

On the right: Cat is showing what an archive is; on the left: an embroidered pattern, an example object from the GSA Archives

What does an archive mean? 

As Cat Doyle, who works at the GSA Archives, told us it can be the documents or the objects which can be recorded from everyday activities. They can come in a variety of formats, including text, audio and video. The objects are protected by copyright and can be stored by category. Usually, archives are kept long term if they are useful.

On the way to the GSA Archives

The journey to the GSA Archives

On 20 June 2019, we took a short walk to arrive at the GSA Archives – it took us almost 20 minutes by foot from Blythswood house. The weather was too cold at first and Chaeeun didn’t bring her jacket, so she felt quite cold at that moment, but few minutes later, the sun came out and the weather became warmer than before, and she said that it was the true Glasgow. Maybe some students felt it was quite far away to go there, but the weather and landscape was great to explore, so that all the students were happy to walk. During the journey, we could view and take photos about some beautiful murals with cool drawings in it, appreciating the fascinating canal with swans, boats as well as the reflection of the buildings.

The students are focusing on what Cat is telling them about the Archives

The activities in GSA archive 

The object-handling session took place in the GSA Archives on the fourth floor of the Whisky Bond building. It gave us some ideas about archive and museum objects through speculation, discussion and summary. Cat, who works in GSA archive showed us several kinds of objects which were stored in GSA archive, and gave us an opportunity to think about how to communicate with others through objects and how to observe the objects.

Our groups were divided into several smaller groups of two or three people in order to do some activities related to the objects. Each group selected one object which inspired them most. All of our classmates were trying to figure out what it was, who made these gorgeous things, when they were made, what the object’s characteristics are, why they were made and how they worked. We were trying to utilize our every sense to figure it out, so we could learn this activity which could help us to think more deeply and feel about the objects, instead of just seeing them.

The students are discussing the role of the Archives


The session gave us an opportunity to talk about the selected object more deeply, and we had a chance to communicate with other students about the objects, and we learnt how to communicate with each other only by using English. Although it is quite difficult to only use English to express our opinion yet, but it’s very helpful and great experience before we get into our BA/MA degree courses.

The students’ reflections on the visit to the Archives as part of the research carried out by the writers of this blog post


Students’ opinions about the archive 

The students used some summary words such as ‘fantastic’, ‘cool’, ‘adventurous’ to express their views of the session from the archive, and all the comments were positive. They thought it was a good chance for new students to explore GSA and a great opportunity to touch the museum’s objects. Although students who study in pre-sessional course will learn different majors in the future, most of them thought the inspiration from the objects can be used in their further projects.

The Archives objects the students have chosen:

Many thanks to Cat Doyle and the rest of the Archives team for such a warm welcome, and organising such an interesting and inspiring session! She and her team also use a blog called The Hatchery – we are hoping she will write about our visit too! 🙂