Student engagement and support with the Collections

Sue Walker and Emma Minns were pleased to welcome Clara Fidler-Brown, part 2 student, as a funded Collections Assistant in the summer vacation of Summer 2023.

Clara writes:

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working as a Collections Assistant across the summer. It has been a fantastic opportunity to observe and organise a range of materials from the Lettering, Printing and Graphic Design Collections, and the Centre for Ephemera within the Department for Typography & Graphic Communication.

Some of the materials that I worked with included various prints by Paul Peter Piech, covering various portraits, quotations, and haikus, in addition to topics regarding social issues such as war, racial discrimination, and torture. Beyond Piech, I also organised the department’s collection of newspapers, which contains extracts dating back to the 18th century. It was fascinating to see historical events recorded through print over time, and equally the evolution of newspaper design in typography and layout.

Furthermore, a significant part of the role was supporting the ‘Up in Arms’ exhibition within the department. This included reviewing, categorising, and organising a range of protest posters, which covered topics including politics, war, and industrial action. Large-scale wall stickers were also designed and printed to designate sections and advertising for the exhibition, in addition to an A5 handout for visitors. This exhibition particularly showcases the wealth of materials within the Collections, featuring originals by Ken Sprague and David King, which combine powerful messages with striking graphics.

Working as a Collections Assistant has allowed me to explore a range of rare objects and ephemera within the Collections and understand their contexts and efficacies. The ‘Up in Arms’ exhibition has also allowed me to work on a wider, collaborative project, and design on new scales using new materials and objectives.

In combination, this role has been an invaluable experience that has enriched my both understanding of the Collections materials, and my experience with displaying them together to create a cohesive whole.