Collecting the traces: an archivist's perspective

Sue Breakell, Victoria Worsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The phenomenon of artists drawing on their own and other archives is not a new one, but over the past few years there has undoubtedly been a significant increase in attention, among both artist and art historians, given to the archive as part of the creative process, as well as to archive practice. Archives have also become contested territory, caught up in discourses about the nature of museums and individual anxieties about the significance and preservation of documentation. From an archivist's point of view, archives have a positive and fertile role as both a resonant collective memory resource and a site of creative regeneration through revisiting the traces of earlier ideas and actions. Archive theory also emphasizes the importance of context in the assessment of the meaning of a document within a body of archive material. Consideration of the archives of Prunella Clough and Helen Chadwick within this wider context of archival theory and practice reveals in both cases a distinctly archival attitude to the documentation of the creative process, one which provides a rewarding insight into their work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-189
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Visual Arts Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • archives
  • contemporary art
  • creative process
  • documentation
  • Helen Chadwick
  • memory
  • Prunella Clough


Dive into the research topics of 'Collecting the traces: an archivist's perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this