Random Archive Workshops & Symposium

Symposium Documentation

The Symposium ‘Silences, interventions, disruptions: Exploring the text art archive’ was held on 12th August 2017 and marked the close of the RANDOM Archive exhibition, with invited artists, writers and performers. Our thematic was guided by the work carried out during the curation process, then particularly some of the conversations with visitors and in workshops around the ideas of archives both official and DIY in nature. Increasingly it seemed some of the most intriguing artworks and ideas were occurring in the spaces between, outside of the institutional or through a process which challenged the expected nature of the archive. Equally, a key thematic which emerged was to explore those who were excluded from the artistic, institutional archive (and thereby those histories) – how can we these narratives be marked, is the most appropriate place these sites of exclusion or another model for archiving?

Programme and Speakers


11:10   Tony Trehy

Speaking on the formation of the Text Art Archive and launch of the 2019 Text Festival.

11:30   Philip Davenport

Objects ventriloquising human concern; Heart Shape Pornography (2004) onwards. The ways in which this work (featured in the RANDOM Archive exhibition) influenced practice since.

Philip Davenport has a longstanding connection with the Text Festival, since its inception, as poet-in-residence at the first festival, and a contributor and curator during subsequent festivals.
Davenport’s poems appear in art galleries, recordings, posters, publications, performances, streets and shop windows, inscribed on objects, and in books. His has exhibited works at The Southbank, The Houses of Parliament, Whitechapel Gallery, Walker Art Gallery, Henry Moore Institute, tea houses in China, streets in Paris, Berlin, Bilbao, Reykjavik and many more.
His work often questions social inequality and emotional dis/engagement. Many of the projects are in the form of collaboration (as ‘arthur+martha’) with marginalised communities, especially people with dementia and homeless people. Several of these projects have intertwined with various Text Festivals.

Images – Phil Davenport.


12:00   Helmut Lemke

Performance The Archive of Failure, an interim outcome of the residency Listen Backwards to Advance at Bury Museum. (Below) Helmut’s recipe for processing and archiving your own rejections.

Helmut Lemke specialises in sound and installation art and he has developed site-specific concerts, performances and installations in a whole variety of sites and settings since he began his work in the 1970s. Lemke works with a variety of sounds, some ordinary, some unusual and combines them with other media and art-forms in his exhibitions. Venues that he has explored and used in his performances include: concert halls, outdoor markets, galleries, museums, the frozen sea off Greenland, function rooms of pubs and international festivals. His latest project examines European sound art practice through rigorous investigations of past work. This project unpacks one person’s creative practice and collaborations across Europe. Lemke has moved everything associated with his art practice throughout his life into the Fusilier Museum, opposite Bury Art Museum & Sculpture Centre. He will create a public archive over the course of the project, investigating a 40 year career in sound art as a durational public performance.

the archive of failure12:30   Lisa Wigham

The Two AM Press Pop-up Library – including pieces from working with Book Works studio, collaborative multiples from the mid 90’s, fanzines and postal art. http://www.twoampress.com/ 

Lisa Wigham began working under the name The Two a.m. Press in 1997 when she graduated from a BA in Fine Art at Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury. This venture was initiated to make and disseminate artists books and multiples as conversation starters with democratic intent- outside traditional gallery spaces. Lisa curated happenings and exhibitions through collaborations in parks, bookshops, cinemas, public houses and homes around London until 2007 when she relocated to the north west. Since then her practice has extended through teaching workshops and public art commissions; one of which is visible on the windows of Preston Train Station Waiting Room as flickering gold type visible from moving trains.


13:15   Afternoon session

Three practitioners working with text as a means to highlight hidden lives, protest, dissent, social injustice and overlooked histories.

13:20   Penny Anderson

Penny Anderson is a writer, artist, and researcher, making text art in Glasgow. Anderson is a published writer of fiction and also social issues for inter allia The Guardian and The Pool. Artwork often takes the form of sewn embroidery, either as traditional style samplers or as labels attached to ready-mades such as doll’s house furniture or mass-produced domestic crockery. Text is painted onto surfaces such as sandpaper and tracing paper. Together this is placed into larger installations, intended to encourage conversations. Much of this is gleaned from the hypothesis of ‘Speechbubbles’. People say amazing things in public, and unless heard, conserved and recontextualised, their thoughts, beliefs and memories will disappear.

Images: Original text pieces by Penny Anderson

13:40   Lauren Velvick

Lauren Velvick is a writer, artist and curator based in the North of England. She is currently Programme Co-ordinator at Bluecoat, Liverpool and is a Liverpool Biennial Associate Artist. As Co-Director of The Exhibition Centre for the Life and Use of Books Lauren has produced exhibitions, events, performances and screenings including Butterworth: the Use and Abuse of Books, WE (Pil & Galia Kollectiv) & Onion Widow performances, Simon Bookish & Jennet Thomas performances, and in 2015 was featured in Modern History Vol.I, curated by Lynda Morris. Lauren has recently co-ordinated a six-person residency and commissioning project based around the work of Christopher Joseph Holme, an unknown Preston artist whose prolific oeuvre she is custodian of, and is writer-in-residence for In Certain Places during their ongoing ‘Expanded City’ project. She is a regular contributor to national and local arts publications including Art Monthly, The Skinny, The Double Negative and This Is Tomorrow and is a Contributing Editor of Corridor8.

Images: collection of artworks by CJH now an archive in the custodianship of Velvick, and work done by invited artists and writers to interpret these artefacts.


14:00   Jez Dolan

queer identity and the codification of language, secrecy and hiddenness. He works with a range of media according to the needs of each project and his work is research driven, often utilising archival material in the creation of new work. He is currently exhibiting in the major show, Coming Out at The Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, which subsequently tours to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery later this year. His work is also currently exhibited at The People’s History Museum, The Britten-Pears Library at Aldeburgh, and The House of Lords.

http://jezdolan.com / @jezdolan

Images: collection of original work and visual research by the artist

14:20   Panel Q+A

Discussion focussed particularly on the ethics of creating and curating archives which might be otherwise excluded from institutions and historical dialogues. That attempting, even resulting in perceived failure, is preferable to allowing these histories to be lost and the voices silenced. Need for discussion and sharing of best practice amongst amateur and DIY archivists and artists, although there will not be one standard approach for all. One of the advantages of the amateur approach means we can tailor the model used to the content it contains.

(Audio of this session to be added)


Close – Tours  

Helmut Lemke tours his residency space at Bury Museum.

Rachel Defay-Liautard, Performance tour within Pavé Numérique installation – (meta;dia)logos

Rachel Defay-Liautard is a French poet born 1973. Her work which consists of concrete, vispo, e-poetry/net-art, installation, street and mail-art, performance and videopoetry has appeared in the following publications – nokturno, GAMMM, zswound, InternaPwoWriMo, new post-literate, REM, coupremine, PE#64, batterie faible (LP), She has performed/exhibited in the 2014 Bury Text Festival, The Other Room (UK)as well as, Klebnikov carnaval (Holland), and Overwriting, Le placard (live + streaming performance, 4ninabis (radio).

 https://storify.com/hannaheallan/symposium-12th-august-2017 – Twitter record of the day; #RANDOMArchive



Workshop Documentation

Some key ideas and themes which emerged from these sessions was the need to experiment, take control and agency for materials which would otherwise be lost. That our archives should be intersectional and open to others. Pairing and linking of ‘sister’ archives that can create a network – individuals joining up to share knowledge.

Ways to approach an exhibition through the catalogue – writing your own, a guide could be an artwork in itself, the experience of the individual valued and recorded as part of the exhibition format.


RANDOM Archive Event Programme: June – August 2017

Saturday, 12 August, 11am-3pm
Symposium at Bury Art Museum

‘Silences, interventions, disruptions: Exploring the text art archive’
Invited artists, writers and researchers respond to the notion of practice based archives and the collection of text art held within ours. Including papers, performances, readings and informal panel discussions. A launch event for the 2019 Text Art Festival, and to mark the close of the RANDOM Archive exhibition.
The day will feature presentations and panel discussions with a number of artists and writers including Lauren Velvick, Helmut Lemke, Penny Anderson, Phil Davenport and Jez Dolan. We will consider the ways in which archives might be spaces used for generating text art, and ways in which this art might resist the constraints of the space. The afternoon panel will examine the people and narratives ‘absented’ from institutional archives and the practitioners who seek to create alternatives and mark out these histories. We will close with the launch of the 2019 Text Festival announcement by Director Tony Trehy, followed by drinks and a final opportunity to view the RANDOM Archive exhibition.
Lunch and refreshments provided – please sign up in advance (link)
All workshops will take place at Bury Art Museum and are free to attend – to book a place please ring the gallery on 0161 253 5878

Thursday, 1 June, 6pm – 8pm
In-conversation: the Random Archive
Celebrating the opening of our new exhibition Random Archive this discussion with resident philosopher Dr Yiota Vassilopoulou (University of Liverpool) and curators Dr. Hannah Allan and Susan Lord gives you a behind the scenes look and the opportunity to explore the wealth of perspectives from which the exhibition may be approached. Followed by drinks reception, open to all.

Friday, 2 June, Tuesday 20 June & Saturday 5 August 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Caring for Community Archives Workshop
This workshop will give members of local art and history societies and those individuals who have a passion for collecting, the opportunity to learn how to catalogue and care for the documents you collect.

Saturday, 17 June, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Feminist & DIY Archives Workshop
Some of the practical and experimental approaches to creating archives of overlooked or undervalued material. Bring your own objects, images, stories and memories to begin the process.

Friday, 23 June, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
The Archive Maze Workshop
Is the art archive the information or the actual objects it contains? And are these objects just documents or works of art themselves? Resident philosopher Dr Yiota Vassilopoulou invites you to reflect on these questions and explore together new ways of engaging with this part of the exhibition.

Saturday, 24 June, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Catalogue Poetics- Workshop
Exploring the language and syntax used when cataloguing an archive, and how this might be used creatively to draw out narratives or work with the documents.

Thursday, 6 July, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
The Digital Archive Workshop
How does technology impact on our relationship with the past, the lived experience of the present, our imagining the future? Join resident philosopher Dr Yiota Vassilopoulou in exploring how philosophy can help us understand this part of the exhibition and its relevance for our life today.

Saturday, 15 July, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Polari-Divine Workshop
Exploring the various language categorisations that can be used when cataloguing an LGBTQ archive.

Saturday, 22 July, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
Creating Digital Galleries Workshop
Looking at innovative ways of how to display archives and artworks using digital technologies and DIY tools.

Random Archive Workshop Programme​ – funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund