Dundee students breathe new life into rare texts

Historic texts held by the University of Dundee have been dusted down by a group of students to kick-start a creative chain reaction.

Students from the English department’s MLitt Writing Practice and Study course have sought inspiration from historic books and poems to create new works, before asking students from the University’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) to illustrate them.

The project, named Vaulted Marvels, aims to highlight the wealth of thought-provoking volumes that lurk within the University’s archives, with a plan now under way to publish the re-imagined stories and accompanying artwork.

Student Rhoda Neville, project editor, said, “The University archives have six centuries of work within them and everyone who has participated in this project is sensitive to how they interpret somebody else’s ideas and dreams.

“However, it has been fascinating to see how the students have been motivated by these works, which may not have been read for decades, before witnessing how the DJCAD students have taken these thoughts forward once again.”

Students were taken on a series of visits to the University archives, located within the basement of Dundee’s Tower Building and which are open to the public by appointment. With each individual identifying a text, the dozen participants have written their own poetry and prose, breathing new life in to centuries old works.

With the accompanying artwork now ready, the students are now hoping to publish the combined pieces and have launched a crowdfunding campaign to allow members of the public to get involved.

The project was partly inspired by the latest exhibition to be hosted within the University’s Lamb Gallery. Titled Bodies, Botanicals and Bindings, it features rare books from within the University archives  that artists and writers have utilised to get their creative juices flowing, with some material dating back to the 15th century.

Rhoda added, “This project feels like an appendix to the Bodies, Botanicals and Bindings exhibition and proves that stepping in to the past can prove hugely rewarding when creating new pieces of work.

“Working with students from another part of the University has been really interesting and I cannot thank the students from DJCAD enough for joining us for this project.”