Title: ‘Girls with Bicycles’, taken at the Women’s Christian College in Madras; Artist/Maker: Unknown; Date: Unknown (probably between 1930s-40s based on style of dress); Dimensions: 10.70 x 6.50 cm
; Medium: Gelatin silver print
; Copyright holder: National Galleries Scotland

Enter The Archive

Collaborative project with National Galleries of Scotland

This project builds on the recent activity of the Fast Forward group in the project Putting Ourselves in the Picture (2021-2022) and in The Fast Forward Research Workshop (2022) held at the Hyman Foundation and written up in the report on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion for Women in the Photographic Industry.

Through this new research project, Enter the Archive, we will be revealing and discussing work from the collection at the National Galleries of Scotland that has rarely been seen and that looks at pertinent issues such as women’s lives, conditions for migrants and the working classes and photography that points to the need for social change. We will be developing a strategy to ensure an interest in these stories is maintained and that there is the potential for creating public outputs (such as exhibitions and publications, which could be online and/or physical). We aim to ensure a minimum of 50% women to be included in all research and we will also ensure that we foreground how the category of women intersects with class, race, sexuality, disability and migration within the photographic stories in the collection and how policy can be developed to ensure that the photography archives of Scotland represent the diversity of its communities.

The knowledge uncovered through this research will impact on the nature of the proposed collections policy for Scotland and will have the potential to impact on other institutions across the UK (as well as in Scotland). Fast Forward and NGS will work together to organise a research workshop with regional and national experts in the field of photography and curatorial research to enable knowledge exchange and development of new strategies for collections policy.

As a part of Enter the Archive National Galleries of Scotland and Fast Forward have commissioned Alexandra Gow as a researcher to work in the collection to investigate and draw out the stories pertinent to the project. The purpose of the role is to evaluate the status of the National Galleries of Scotland photography archive in relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and to develop knowledge surrounding the stories of diverse communities within the collection, with an emphasis on the lives of women and non-binary people. Gow also conducts research into a previous exhibition programme, Migration Stories (2011-2013), articulating what this project entailed and evaluating its relevancy to the Galleries’ current EDI commitments and collaboration with Fast Forward. After the commission, Alexandra Gow continues her job at NGS as Collections and Research Assistant. 

This project is supported by University for the Creative Arts.