Outside In and the West Sussex Record Office hosted a special sharing event to mark the end of the Vawdrey Archive Project on Friday, 12 July. It offered a unique chance to hear from the artists and team involved in the project and find out more about the process, the challenges, and ideas for the future.
Artwork from the collection, and the responses from the Outside In artists who took part were on display – the evening also included a performance by Emma Louvelle.
During the presentations, county archivist Wendy Walker said it had been a ‘really interesting partnership project’ which had allowed the partners to ‘really challenge eachother on the way they do things’. She added that the ‘extraordinary group of artists’ had helped the team to ‘look at this archive in new ways’.
Outside In director Marc Steene recalled how the collection had been brought along by Dr Vawdrey’s son Alan to an event regarding the West County Asylum in what he described as these ‘black bin liners full of magic and mystery’. “It was a privilege to be there at that point, collections like this are few and far between,” he added. “We have appreciated over time the significance of the collection.”
Regarding the archive project, Marc explained how it had been prompted by a desire to involve artists with mental health experience in order to ‘have that voice, that experience – that lived experience, to be a part of the cataloging and archiving process to give it some kind of ethical consideration’.
He concluded by thanking the project participants for ‘taking what is a risk’ on a ‘unique and unknown piece of work’.
Below you can hear audio from the presentations by Wendy Walker; county archivist at West Sussex County Council, Marc Steene; Outside In founder and director and Rachel Johnston, the project consultation co-ordinator, who explain more.