GSA’s institutional archives are one of the finest and fullest examples of an art school’s archives in the world. The institutional archives include records created in relation to the day to day functions of various School administration departments, for example, Finance, Personnel, Estates etc. There are also departmental records relating to disciplines such as Design and Fine Art. These include material about the curriculum and reveal more evidence and information about higher education, arts administration, and art school pedagogy. Registry records meanwhile provide a wealth of information about former students and enable the Archives and Collections team to answer family history enquiries.
To supplement student records, the School’s prospectuses and annual reports offer further information on courses, prizes, tutors, buildings, fees etc., and help to provide a fuller flavour of what GSA was like at various periods of the School’s history. Directors’ papers and the papers of the Secretary and Treasurer open up a treasure trove of correspondence including letters to and from the likes of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret Macdonald, Sir John Lavery, William Morris, Walter Crane and Joan Eardley.
In addition to these institutional records, the Archives and Collections also looks after over 100 deposited collections. These are collections of material which have been donated to GSA and which relate to former GSA staff, students or businesses closely associated with the School.
Deposited collections relating to former GSA staff include, for example, the archives of Jimmy Cosgrove, an artist, GSA alumnus and former Deputy Director of The Glasgow School of Art; Conrad McKenna, GSA alumnus and former member of staff in the design Department; Dugald Cameron, GSA alumnus and former Director of The Glasgow School of Art, and Kath Whyte, former Head of Embroidered and Woven Textiles. Deposited collections which relate to former GSA students include for example, fashion designer Garcia Hunter, a student in the 1940s; Donald Melvin, a student in the 1960s; the art critic Cordelia Oliver who was a student in the 1940s, and the architect Sir Anthony Wheeler who also studied at GSA in the 1940s.
These deposited collections, as well as sometimes being very personal, might contain material such as sketchbooks, diaries, personal papers as well as artworks like textiles and paintings, and help to illustrate what it was like to study and/or work at GSA over the course of its history. They often act as an interesting counterpart to the finished pieces which feature in GSA’s collection of artworks and artefacts, revealing information about the process of creating a work of art or an architectural drawing.
Then there are records relating to associations or businesses closely associated with the School, such as Gillespie, Kidd & Coia, a Glasgow-based architecture firm renowned for their modernist, often described as Brutalist churches and schools in west and central Scotland. There are also various collections which help to illustrate the extracurricular activities of the School, such as the records of the Drama Club, the Student Representative Council, and the Staff Association.
The Archives and Collections continues to add to its archival holdings in order to document the development of GSA as an institution as well as the development of disciplines taught at the School. Over the next few years, the A&C hopes to undertake collections development activities to help diversify its archival holdings and better represent the School’s student and staff body.