Tag Archives: Wimbledon Space

The Jocelyn Herbert Archive

On Monday 16th February 2015 the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation hosted a reception to celebrate the move of the Jocelyn Herbert Archive to the National Theatre Archive in the NT Studio on The Cut. Speeches were by Sir Nicholas Hytner, Sir John Sorrell, Sandra Lousada and Professor Eileen Hogan- Director of the Jocelyn Herbert Archive. The Rootstein Hopkins Foundation which has supported the Jocelyn Herbert Archive during its time at Wimbledon College of Arts will continue to fund research relating to the collection now that her archive is housed at the National Theatre.

Jocelyn Herbert (1917 – 2003) was a seminal figure in postwar twentieth-century British theatre. Her approach altered the way directors and audiences came to view stage design and contributed to a fundamental shift in the relationship between writer, director and designer. The Jocelyn Herbert Archive is one of the most complete and extensive of the period, covering many world premieres of plays which have since come to be seen as twentieth century classics.  She wanted her archive to be used in a practical way by students and other researchers and made as accessible to them as possible. She had a long connection with the theatre department at Wimbledon College of Arts, was often called in as an external examiner or otherwise to advise the students, and in 2000 she received an honorary doctorate. In 2008 the archive moved to Wimbledon College of Art and was installed in a newly built, environmentally controlled room. This, together with the digitisation of all the drawings and the cataloguing of the archive was made possible by a substantial grant from the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation.

The archive consists of over 6,000 of Herbert’s drawings for set and costume designs spanning student work made at the London Theatre Studio in the late 1930s, to the notebook she was using on the day she died. It includes production photographs, notebooks relating to film and theatre and to personal life, sketchbooks, diaries and contact books, three-dimensional stage models, ground plans, research material, budgets invoices and Minutes relating to meetings, posters and programmes, scripts, moulds for masks, masks and puppet figures.  Herbert’s career was characterised by long collaborative relationships with directors, writers and actors, and her archive embraces a significant body of material and correspondence with figures such as Lindsay Anderson, Samuel Beckett, Tony Harrison, John Osborne, Tony Richardson, David Storey and Arnold Wesker. As well as her vital connection with the English Stage Company at the Royal Court theatre, she had an influential role at the National Theatre, designing many plays there and as a member of Lawrence Olivier’s Building Committee for Denys Lasdun’s National Theatre South Bank design.  Olivier’s letter asking Jocelyn to become the company’s resident designer (a role she declined) is among the correspondence relating to her relationship with the National.

From 2008 to 2014 the archive has been used by students and staff from Wimbledon College of Arts as an inspiration for re-enacting historical designs and as a catalyst for new work and exhibitions. It has also been the subject for graduate and doctoral research both within the UAL and externally. Collaborative relationships have been established with the University of Stirling, where Lindsay Anderson’s archive is held, University of Reading in relation to Samuel Beckett’s archive, the V & A, which holds the archive of the English Stage Company, the Archive of Performance in Greek and Roman Drama at the University of Oxford and, most importantly, the National Theatre, host for the Jocelyn Herbert Lectures, first given in 2010 by Richard Eyre and funded by the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation for ten years. This lecture series is designed to increase public awareness of a largely invisible discipline within an otherwise closely monitored activity. Other lecturers so far have been the designer ULTZ and the playwright Christopher Hampton.

In 2014 an exciting collaboration was established between UAL and the National Theatre, whereby the National Theatre has become the new home for the archive. This coincides with far-reaching developments at the National which put design and education at the heart of the theatre. The move provides improved access for all students, and annual internships for CCW’s (Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Art) MA Theatre Design and Curating and Collections courses. New PhD and post-doctoral work will be funded by the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation.  A CCW research project to create new work inspired by Herbert’s archive will start in 2015. Wimbledon Space is currently exhibiting Work From the Collections #3: Jocelyn Herbert and Samuel Beckett, curated by students from Chelsea’s MA Curating & Collections course.

Top image: Erin Lee talking to colleagues about the Jocelyn Herbert Archive in the National Theatre Context. Photo by Karen DiFranco.

The Olympics Drawn: Study Afternoon

Shortly before the opening event for The Olympics Drawn at Wimbledon Space, there will be the opportunity to delve into some of the stories that have been unearthed while researching artefacts for the exhibition. This study afternoon for The Olympics Drawn brings together scholars of drawing, designers involved in the delivery of the games and researchers. The panel, consisting of curator Dr Joanne O’Hara, Kevin Owens, Professor Stephen Farthing and Tania Kovats, will discuss how drawing informed the planning and orchestration of the London 2012 Olympics. It will be chaired by Angela Brew, CCW PhD candidate, on 9 October, 3-4:30pm, in the Theatre at Wimbledon College of Arts.

Owens, the former design principal for LOCOG (the Local Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), was crucial in the planning and delivery of all aspects of the built environment. He was heavily involved in decision-making processes throughout the organisation of the Games and, as an architect, drawing formed a key part of his work. Owens was responsible for commissioning and reviewing each of the permanent and temporary designs and it was his job to oversee thousands of drawings made by a range of designers from different specialties. A number of his own drawings can be seen in the exhibition, and this study afternoon will provide the opportunity to hear first-hand from one of Games’ executives.

Farthing, Rootstein Hopkins UAL Chair of Drawing, who conceived of the idea The Olympics Drawn, has been instrumental in steering the project to completion. Since the commencement of this project, Farthing’s vision has been inspirational, and some of the issues surrounding the wider themes of the project – including the communicative and expressive power of drawing, and its evolution over time – will be discussed. For example – what would this project have looked like had it begun alongside the first Olympic Games? What will it continue to look like in the future? He may also explore the issues which link the project with the charting of taste, national identity and the development of drawing processes.

Kovats, Course Director for MA Drawing at Wimbledon College of Arts, will be able to help the panel understand the project within the wider realm of the world of drawing and join the dots on all of the panel’s thought processes. Her work focuses on drawing and mapping landscapes as well as describing or using geological processes in the making of both sculpture and drawings. Much of Kovats’s research has focused on geology, to further understand how landscapes are formed, exclusive of humanity’s effects upon them.

O’Hara is looking forward to the panel discussion and exhibition, as the culmination of her 2 year post-doctoral research fellowship. ‘As the researcher on the ground, I will be able to share some of my stories about the practicalities of the project and how we brought it all together. We will hopefully tease out some of the interesting stories, while considering such issues as where the drawings fit into the wider processes of design and production, and also the main issue I faced which was searching archives and portfolios and tracking mystery caches of drawings!

We also hope to hear on the day from some of the contributors to the exhibition who will be able to go into more detail about their own work, potentially spanning numerous disciplines and providing an amazing insight into some of the inner workings of the drawings shown in the exhibition.’

Image credit: Charlie Cobb, concept drawing of the Olympic Opening Ceremony (2011)

Mike Taylor Senior Partner Hopkins Architects

The Olympics Drawn

In November 2012, Dr Joanne O’Hara was selected to be the Rootstein-Hopkins Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, exploring the role of drawing in the planning of London’s 2012 Olympics, working alongside Professor Stephen Farthing. O’Hara describes the work she is doing and the forthcoming exhibition which will present these research findings.

‘The project The Olympics Drawn began in earnest in November 2012, only a few months after the close of both the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The aim of the project is to chart the role of drawing (of all types) in the preparation, planning and implementation of London 2012.

‘My appointment was made to work with Professor Stephen Farthing on the project for its two year duration: eighteen months in and the initial scoping phase has been done. In this research context we realised pretty early on that a full survey of drawings made for London 2012 would be beyond the scope of the project. We have always aimed to create an interesting, illuminating, and engaging sample or cross-section of drawings from across the board, spanning a multi-disciplinary group of artists, designers and everyone else in between who drew to contribute to the Olympics. By covering a range of topics which are familiar to our audience and to which they will instantly relate, and other more obscure but essential aspects of the production, we hope to bring the scale of London 2012 and the importance and variety of drawing together.

‘The sourcing of these materials has been much harder than we originally expected. Rather than using a central repository, or archive, much of our research has been conducted through individuals themselves and our findings as a result have been dependent on what drawings they held onto. In many cases, frustratingly, we listened to what they had just gotten rid of! It has been fascinating to hear about all levels of the design and production process, from the intern working during the summer of their university holidays, to the design principal through whose office every development of the design of the built environment passed.

‘After a fascinating scoping exercise, talking to people from all sorts of areas of expertise, we are now looking forward to displaying the fruits of our research at Wimbledon Space, 10 October-14 November 2014. We hope to showcase a range of these drawings in the exhibition to bring together a multitude of drawing types, from different disciplines and with varied purposes, produced for the London 2012 Olympics.

‘As we now are bringing together all of the practical elements of the show in time for opening in October, we look forward to welcoming you to the exhibition!’