NDS, The full collection

  • Richardson, Lindy (Principal Investigator)

Project Details

Description

STATEMENT

Objectives
Locating the Full Collection of The NDS
Whilst the major benefactors in 1962 of the dispersed embroideries have been identified and located it is now desirable to locate the full NDS collection as far as is possible. Organisations for example The Women’s rural, The women’s institute and local authorities listed in the NDS paperwork will be approached to help identify the whereabouts of some pieces. There are however some unknown organisations which may take more challenging investigation, for example The Townswomens’ Guild and The GLC.

Gathering oral histories of the scheme.
Having identified a handful of individuals to begin the process of gathering oral histories from people who remember the scheme in the 1940’s-1960’s it now seems vital to push this part of the project forward. Time is of the essence. The target group for this part of the project will be reached through various guilds, institutions and through alumni of the associated Universities.
The oral history gathering needs to be conducted with good quality equipment. Due to the age of the participants it is essential in most cases to travel to them to conduct the interviews as well as bringing more able bodied individuals together for central meetings in institutions or museums. These recordings have the potential to be utilised as part of the digitising of the reunited NDS online.

These will be used as part of anticipated larger grant applications to set up an online presence of a united Needlework Development Scheme (please see below) with supporting oral histories and associated material alongside the artefacts themselves.
Gathering of this information will increase the potential for broader collaborative research across a wider geographic area and with smaller local museums and galleries as well as major national institutions. This addresses a different demographic from the more traditional academic and educational perspective of the major museums and Scottish art colleges already involved in the project.


Timeline

Anticipated outcomes




PERSONAL STATEMENT
As the Programme Director for Textiles and honorary curator of the ECA textiles collection , I have been working with this archive for the past 18 months. Funded by an innovation initiative grant I have visited the 6 other major recipients of the pieces from the NDS . I have developed a network of archivists, curators, conservators and academics associated with and responsible for part of the original NDS. I organised a colloquium bringing together 30 participants to develop research clusters and focus direction for the revival, conservation and future of these precious collections, as well as their relevance for 21st century education. My continued interest in collaboration and collaborative practice in education include

This experience coupled with my genuine skills and understanding of the technical complexities of the collection place me in the best possible position to undertake this research.

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13. Outline of Project
As the Programme Director for Textiles and honorary curator of the ECA textiles collection which is almost exclusively made up of part of the NDS collection donated to ECA in 1962 I have been working with this archive for the past 18 months.

Background to project to date

The needlework Development Scheme was established in 1934, funded by J and P Coats the Paisley yarn manufacture. Originally involving the 4 Scottish Art Colleges, the intention was to encourage interest in embroidery and improve design through the loan and circulation of historic and contemporary embroidery examples from both the UK and abroad. Disbanded in 1962 the collection was distributed in the main to The 4 Scottish Art Colleges, 3 national museums and The Embroiderers Guild. Having rediscovered the ECA part of this collection in boxes safely stashed in the ECA boardroom wine store in 2011, a research project to revive and reinvent the use of this archive was established in 2012. The Edinburgh College of Art NDS project has since generated a healthy breadth of interest from academics, curators, archivists and conservators across a range of institutions including The V and A, Royal Scottish Museum, GSA, Grays School of Art and Dundee University. A colloquium held at ECA on 24th April 2013 demonstrated commitment to future collaborative funding proposals across institutions, driven by ECA.
At this stage two further strands of gathering together vital information in order to ready the project for application of significant larger grant applications is now required.

Aims and Objectives

The original NDS collection consisted of over 3 thousand samples. Having identified the location of part of the collection, this project now needs to further research the whereabouts of the Full Needlework Development Scheme examples across the UK. With an original 1962 list of places and institutions given parts of the collection, a focussed project to follow up and determine where these samples are now is desirable to complete a FULL collection of the NDS.
Gathering of this information will increase the potential for broader collaborative research across a wider geographic area and with smaller local museums and galleries as well as major national institutions. This addresses a different demographic from the more traditional academic and educational perspective of the major museums and Scottish art colleges already involved in the project.

Having identified a handful of individuals to begin the process of gathering oral histories from people who remember the scheme in the 1940’s-1960’s it now seems vital to push this part of the project forward. Time is of the essence. The oral histories will help to contextualise the collection. The target group for this part of the project will be reached through various guilds, institutions and through alumni of the associated Universities.
The oral history gathering needs to be conducted with good quality equipment. Due to the age of the participants it is essential in most cases to travel to them to conduct the interviews as well as bringing more able bodied individuals together for central meetings in institutions or museums. These recordings have the potential to be utilised as part of the digitising of the reunited NDS online.



14. Target group and plan for how to reach them
Group 1. Museums and galleries listed on the original 1962 list of recipients of the scheme.
Group 2. People who were associated with the scheme before it disbanded. We have already identified a handful of individuals who are willing and eager to be involved with this research. Most have come through word of mouth, however we have also used flyers at the Embroiderers Guild conference and set up a blog. The museum and galleries group should also help generate more participants for gathering oral histories.

15. Method of Working/Activities
Visits to the relevant galleries and museums will involve interviews with current curators/archivists in a bid to determine the location of NDS specimins and associated materials.


16. Major Milestones and Time/Activity Chart
October/November.
Initial contact through phone and email with 1962 listed museums and galleries around the UK
Appointment made to visit museums and galleries in England
Initial first phase of oral history gathering in Edinburgh and Glasgow
December
Visit to Surrey for oral history session with Margaret Blow ( a key contact who studied embroidery at ECA in the 1940s )
January/February
Other UK visits to look at collections and gather further oral histories through individual sessions and group meetings
February/March
Transcribing and editing oral histories, refining catalogue lists and accession lists from ALL collections.
March/April
Writing report

17. Anticipated knowledge transfer outcomes/benefits

Short term benefits will be in the establishment of links across the smaller museum and gallery sector with The University and the larger galleries holding NDS collections. Through the oral history gathering we will make links between these galleries and museums and the oral history participants, potentially holding some sessions within the museums.

18. Evaluation
Target groups will be provided with a report. The museums and galleries will be invited to future colloquium events and will become part of collaborative funding applications where appropriate. Those contributing to oral history sessions will be added to the database for all future events. This research will undoubtedly spark further network opportunities and contacts. An online presence through blogs will keep the project active.

Layman's description

The needlework Development Scheme was established in 1934, funded by J and P Coats the Paisley yarn manufacture. Originally involving the 4 Scottish Art Colleges, the intention was to encourage interest in embroidery and improve design through the circulation of over 3 thousand historic and contemporary embroidery as teaching aids. Disbanded in 1962 the collection was distributed in the main to The 4 Scottish Art Colleges, 3 national museums and The Embroiderers Guild.
With a longer term aim of establishing a united online presence for the collection a research project is underway. Using an original 1962 list of places and institutions given parts of the collection, some of the pieces have been located. The ECA part of this collection was safely stashed in the ECA boardroom wine store in 2011, having lain unused for decades. A focussed project to follow up and determine the whereabouts of the remaining pieces is desirable to complete a FULL collection of the NDS.
In addition to the artefacts themselves the people associated with them and the provenance of many of the pieces will enrich the collections. The oral histories will help to contextualise the collection.

Key findings

Anticipated outcomes
■Location of pieces in local museums, galleries and local authorities listed in the 1962 original document listing the dispersal of the pieces.
This aspect of the research has been addressed to a point, with several large collections located. An additional list of benefactors of the scheme was uncovered in The V and A archives with defined numbers of samples donated to each organisation. This will continue to prove useful for future searches. Many current museums had not heard of the scheme despite having the samples within their collections. ( attached spreadsheet)
■Series of oral histories.
10 oral history sessions have been conducted to date including a group session.. All have been astonishingly productive in terms of information about the scheme and in particular with reference to personalities and the nuances of individual relationships within the organisation over the years. Communication with the over 80’s has slowed down the process of identifying individuals and making contact. 6 remaining candidates will be interviewed in September 2014. We have full transcriptions of all interviews plus photos of our interviewees.
■Build the NDS publications collection at ECA
The textiles collection has been supplemented with approximately 30 books which are either NDS publications or include NDS samples. This library will contribute to our NDS study hub alongside the samples.
This library includes a full set, plus duplicate copies of NDS bulletins from the 40’s and 50’s, and an original folder for the bulletins.
I am currently negotiating sets of NDS slides which were created in the 1950s and sold in sets.
■Establishing further research to underpin major cross institutional research funding bids for
1. The re-united online Needlework Development Scheme Project
As a result of this project we have located collections in regional museums and witnessed the breadth of the collections across institutions. Additionally we have reviewed associated materials in the form of letters and minutes at GSA, The V and A and in ECA archives. This has allowed cross referencing and provided greater insight into the motivations behind the scheme and in its operation. Having had a symposium in 2013 it is now the intention to run a similar event in the near future to discuss cross institutional bids. Fueled by our extensive additional research we believe there is excellent potential to attract further funding.
2. A major exhibition
This still remains a major ambition for the project.
3. A publication
This will accompany the major exhibition
Additional Outcomes
■ Network . We have now brought together an excellent range of contacts within education, museums and galleries, and particularly with individuals associated with the scheme. This will provide the basis for the development of a stronger network for future initiatives and will support the planned exhibition and publication.
■This project has provided a huge wealth of information ripe for synthesis and dissemination in a variety of formats.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/10/1331/07/14

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  • NDS colloquium

    Lindy Richardson (Organiser)

    24 Apr 2013

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar