The RBSA Archive Team in 2014

30 December 2013

This week, Archive Team Volunteer, Becky Sexton introduces the expanded Archive Team and reviews the role of existing and new volunteers for 2014.


With over 400 works in the Permanent Collection the RBSA Gallery would not be able to run without the hard work and commitment of the Archive Team Volunteers. This year, the team has expanded to enable the Gallery to meet the increased workload for 2014. It welcomes three new members who will help with research, enquiries and database tasks.

The Team is just as reliant on long-standing members of the Archive Team such as David White. David oversaw the loans (and safe return) of the four Chattocks and Sidney Causer to the recent Butler Bayliss exhibition at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery (for more information about this exhibition, click here).

As part of the Reaching Out project with the University of Birmingham two new roles have been assigned to PHD students, Alice Insley and Jamie Edwards, who will be researching the Archives and relatively understudied material such as press cuttings. The Reaching Out project offers PHD students an opportunity to gain experience and training by working with museums and cultural organisations in the West Midlands. As one of the participating organisations the RBSA hopes to relate Alice and Jamie’s work to its 2014 Anniversary Exhibition. Other examples of Cultural Institutions that students will be gaining experience at include: Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Town Hall/Symphony Hall.

This year Honorary Archive Team Member, Brendan Flynn, was appointed to work in the Archive as a freelance research curator as part of the RBSA’s year long celebration of the bicentenary of the first exhibition held by the Birmingham Academy of Arts, the forerunner of the RBSA. This was made possible after the Society received a grant of £76,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the project ‘Celebrating 200 years of Art, Artists and Audiences in Birmingham.’ This has also been generously supported by a curatorial research grant of £40,000 from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Brendan’s research will be revealed in the exhibition ‘A Place for Art: The Story of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists’, which will be on display from October to November 2014.

Brendan has been able to make notes on, and bring together, information about overlooked artists and links, particularly of Wolverhampton-based artists. He has also started a number of new files for artists who previously had no notes, which could lead to further lines of enquiry in the future. As one part of his research Brendan hopes to focus on female artists - in particular addressing the unfortunate loss of information about distinguished female RBSA Members.