by Laura Damon-Moore

Today we are just super thrilled to present an overview of a recently-launched resource developed by the Glasgow School of Art Library. The Hatchery offers documentation and insight into how the library inspires and informs the artists that use it. Needless to say, we’re totally taken with the project (I mean, “The Hatchery”? Long live the idea egg motif!).

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Get started exploring The Hatchery here: gsahatchery.wordpress.com. The Hatchery is organized into ways that current artists use the library, and includes examples of finished projects for each “way.” Artists use the library to debate issues and encourage discourse; they pull items from the collection to add depth to their exhibitions and displays; artists use the library space to install installations and artistic interventions that promote dialogue and enrich the everyday workings of the library; they find inspiration and new ideas in the library’s collection.

A nice surprise on the library’s Extend page – the Library as Incubator Project is included in The Hatchery’s list of arts and library communities! Lots of other fun places to explore from this page, too.

I put a few questions to Duncan Chappell, the Academic Liaison Librarian for the Glasgow School of Art Library, about the impetus for The Hatchery and its creators’ hopes for its future. Here’s what he had to say:

Why did you develop the Hatchery?

Over a number of years we’ve been approached by our own students, staff or other creative practitioners with a view to using the Library’s spaces and collections to create, view or show art. We’ve noticed that there is a growing trend for contemporary visual artists to engage with libraries and archives in order to explore issues such as memory, categorisation, collecting, and curatorship. Artists such as Rachel Whiteread, Uriel Orlow, Alex Finlay, and Martha Rosler have used libraries and archives beyond their simple capacity to provide information – they have staged interventions and installations within libraries, or reimagined what libraries can be. We wanted to document what our own creative practitioners are doing in this area, as well as marketing to others that the library provides a space for these kinds of activities. 

Book sculpture (artist unknown) of "Lanark," displayed in Glasgow School of Art's Mackintosh Library. 2012.

Book sculpture (artist unknown) of “Lanark,” displayed in Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Library. 2012.

How did you develop the project?

We approached a number of artists and practitioners that we have worked with over the years, and suggested co-developing case studies of their works. Without exception, all the people we approached were excited by the potential of the resource and happy to co-develop content with us. We photographed their work and provided contextual information on their artistic preoccupations and motivations. We solicited artists’ statements, on the premise that these would better explain the art than we ever could. Throughout, the concept of co-creation was important to us. Over time we noticed that other libraries and archives were encouraging similar activities, although not recording them to the same extent. We started to incorporate some of this external content too, in order to grow the resource still further.

Carla Novi, "White Books," 2010. Part of the MFA Interim Show at the Glasgow School of Art Library.

Carla Novi, “White Books,” 2010. Part of the MFA Interim Show at the Glasgow School of Art Library.

What lessons did you draw upon when developing the Hatchery?

In particular, we were encouraged by the Library as Incubator project, which was established by three American librarians to record and market creative advocacy in libraries and information services. We were amazed at the breadth of creative activities taking place in these settings, from artists-in-residences to bibliotherapy groups, or from bookbinding surgeries to art installations. We were also aware of artists-in-residence schemes that had taken place in our own orbit, as places such as the University of Edinburgh Library, National Library of Scotland, and British Library. We realised that what was taking place in our own library was part of a larger growing network of creative arts activities within libraries and archives.

Theresa Moerman Ib, "Lost Memory," 2012. Memory sticks left behind by students in the Glasgow School of Art Library. Displayed at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh.

Theresa Moerman Ib, “Lost Memory,” 2012. Memory sticks left behind by students in the Glasgow School of Art Library. Displayed at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh.

How do you intend to use the Hatchery?

We are currently exploring ways of fully embedding The Hatchery into our learning and teaching activities within the Library. There are opportunities to develop innovative content for the workshops we provide, in order to make learning activities more engaging and more closely aligned to creative processes. We are developing a public engagement programme within the Library, which will see us increasingly contribute to external events such as National Libraries Day or Book Week Scotland, and The Hatchery may become our main outward-facing portal for these contributions.

What are your future plans for the Hatchery?

The Hatchery will always be an evolving resource that will continue to grow and develop. We’ll be adding further case studies as we work alongside future artists, designers and creative practitioners. We would perhaps like the artist’s voice to become even stronger, and will probably begin to incorporate video interviews, or films of the creative process in action. As ever, we’ll firmly embed all our new content into our social media channels, so that it reaches a wide audience, both internally and externally.

Visit The Hatchery.

All images on this page are copyright of their respective artists. Used with permission. 

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