Creative Design: the old inspiring the new
This wonderful object was designed and created for Chaos and Order, a collaborative project between Archive Services and Level 3 Illustration students at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design which ran in 2017. Each student was assigned an archive box, the contents of which would inspire a creative response.
The box which led to the design of this object contained a notebook belonging to John Grant who worked in the spinning department of Angus Jute Works in West Bengal. It describes the work of the spinning department and details the spindles and some of the machinery on the factory floor. The student used this information to re-create upright wooden spindles with etched details on discs of acrylic visualised from the written descriptions in the notebook.
The archive box also contained Colloquial Hindustani for Jute Mills & Workshops written and published by Mohiuddin Ahmad in Calcutta, 1947. Excerpts from this phrasebook have been printed and wound around the spindles, creating a connection between the jute industry and the change in lifestyle and language that impacted on jute workers who left Dundee to work in the mills in Calcutta.
Interestingly, both Grant’s notebook and the Hindustani phrasebook were originally handed in to a charity in Fife, who subsequently deposited the items with Archive Services to form part of the extensive textile collections held at the University. The items add a great deal to understanding the work and wider societal changes for those who chose to relocate to India in the 1940s.
Chaos and Order culminated in an exhibition which showcased the new works of art alongside some of the archive collections which inspired them. We are delighted that Claire, the student who produced this object, has kindly donated her art work to the archive collections. It can be viewed in the searchroom as can the items that inspired her design.
April image: Wool samples, Spring 1938
These samples of wool were produced by Wilson Bros (Alva) Ltd for the Spring season. They're a timely reminder that Scottish springs can be more like winter than summer.
March image: Spring has sprung
As the snow melts away the first buds of spring are starting to appear, welcoming in the new season. This colourful and cheerful image is the front cover of a catalogue listing bulbs and seeds for sale at Small’s of Brechin in 1910.
David Small & Sons of Brechin was established in 1896 when David bought an existing seedsman business from James Young at 20 Swan Street, Brechin. The seedsman aspect was a constant in the business, as they further expanded into nurserymen and floristry. Continuing success led to a second shop opening at 147 High Street, Montrose. David Small & Sons thrived until the son of the founder retired in 1976.
The collection consists of colourful advertising catalogues and price lists some of which contain horticultural advice on how to best prepare the ground before plantation of seeds, how to cultivate a crop and even uses for the vegetables grown. There are also photographs of the premises and the horses and carts used to transport the sacks of seeds. Documents relating to financial side of the business include cash books, day books and the valuation of stock when Small took over from Young.
The advice, tips and colourful illustrations will inspire the green fingered and the novice gardener alike.
Ref: MS 41/4/5 (11)
February image: Polynesian portrait
These two women have no names and we don’t know when their photograph was taken, or exactly where. But it doesn’t really matter as their serenity and dignity shines down through the years.
The photograph is in an album featuring 19th century Polynesian scenes and people which forms part of the Alexander Thoms collection. As well as knowing nothing about the women, we know very little about Thoms.
Alexander was a member of the Thoms of Clepington family and as a young man went to Bengal, India, where he remained engaged in estate and plantation business for about thirty years. In 1884 he returned to Scotland, living in St Andrews until his death in 1925 aged 89 years.
The collection also contains another photograph album featuring pictures of geological formations and bird colonies, nests and eggs from the Hebrides and Shetland. Thoms was an amateur mineralogist, and he presented a valuable collection of stones and minerals to University College, Dundee.
Thoms’s Polynesian album was possibly a souvenir of a trip from Bengal to the Islands. It contains photographs of ancient and modern buildings, of scenery and people and of them all, these two women were likely to have been remembered by Thoms.
Ref: MS 180