Behind the scenes Collections Long read Series

Imaging takes an Isolated View (Intro)

Each member of the team has reinterpreted the collections in a creative way of their choice. The results are a real treat...

In March 2020 like many others across the world, the Imaging team found ourselves working from home, in new and very strange circumstances. But if you know us, we like to turn anything we can into an opportunity. So whilst being busy developing our formal Imaging skills (more posts to come on that later), the team have also taken the opportunity to take an ‘Isolated View’ of the collections.

All of the Imaging team are, or have been, creative practitioners at work inside, and outside, the Library. Each member of the team has reinterpreted the collections in a creative way of their choice. The results are a real treat, and whilst we don’t present contextual knowledge of the collections, you will be seeing the collections like never before. For now, I’m going to introduce each member of the team and tell you a little more about them.

Latin MS 8, 14r gets the IMPATV treatment in Jamie’s Isolated View.

Our longest serving member of staff Jamie Robinson is also a Video Artist, originally trained as a photographer Jamie started ‘messing about’ with old video cameras in around 2013 and now has an INCREDIBLE portfolio of experimental streaming, filming, video production, workshops and installations, take a look here For his interpretation of the collections Jamie has taken pages from some of his favourite manuscripts from our new Digital Collections and given them the IMPATV treatment. Highly meditative, highly therapeutic, take some time to spend with them when we release them.

Multispectral Imaging in practice (or disco lights as we like to refer to it in the studio). Images are taken at different wavelengths of light, from UV to Infrared. Tony uses a set of images like these images to create a Isolated View of the collections.

Tony Richards, a prolific blogger and expert in Historic Photographic Processes (although he’ll be very cross with me for saying expert, but there is no denying it, he is) didn’t apply his knowledge of Historic Photographic practice to the collections, but went to the other end of the spectrum and experimented with creative outputs using software that we use for Advanced Imaging techniques such as Multispectral Imaging. His results are so clever, and a nod to iconic ‘Manchester’ imagery… watch this space.

Our project photographers Jo Castle and Lisa Risbec have taken inspiration from the projects that they are working on. Jo has just completed the digitisaton of the Heinrich Simon Papers held at the Rylands and has started to compile a Sigillography, a study of wax seals found within the papers. And Lisa Risbec, who has been working on the Unlocking the Mary Hamilton papers project, and is also a visual artist, has been inspired to create new artworks using elements of the visual aspects of the material she has been photographing.

‘dom sylvester houédard’s glasses – side view’ providing inspiration for Angie McCarthy.

Even our Imaging Assistant, Angie McCarthy, who keeps our Imaging Service in excellent working order, is also a practising artist in her own time. Angie has taken inspiration from Dom Sylvester Houedard to create some fantastic new work in response to his style of Concrete Poetry.

I’ve been working on my own contribution too, I am a practising photographer outside of the Library. I usually create portraits of people, and have managed to find a way to do that even in lockdown. But I really enjoyed being able to spend some time actually looking at the digital collections. I have been thinking about how to visually interpret isolation, and have used my favourite digital collection (no prizes for guessing which one that’s going to be) as source material – the Photography Collection.

We’ll be releasing our work as a series of posts tagged ‘Isolated View’. We’d love to hear what you think, and if it inspires you to interpret the collections in new ways, we’d love to see what you create. You can comment on the posts here, email us or contact us via the usual social media channels @thejohnrylands

Where possible images in our Digital Collections are available to download and reuse for non-commercial purposes. Just click download and get creative!

Manchester Digital Collections

Library Digitised Collections

5 comments on “Imaging takes an Isolated View (Intro)

  1. stellahalkyardoutlookcom

    Love this blog and really looking forward to further installments!

    • Gwen Riley Jones

      Thank you very much! Next installment arrives tomorrow!

  2. Penelope Blackburn

    This is lovely Gwen, what wonderful creative ideas you all have. I’ll pass this on to my youngest daughter who is currently working through her Foundation Fine Art Degree. She is finding it hard because she is working, obviously at this moment in time! isolated from her friends on her course. She’s missing them a great deal and you begin to realise for these young people how, when you are a newly emerging artist, bouncing ideas and interacting with other creative people it’s so important to the creative process to share physical your ideas. She has very happily been offered an unconditional place to study Contemporary Art and Illustration at Huddersfield, we are very excited about her future. We begin to see how photography and its digital applications, is a very powerful and immediate tool which conveys a multitude of feelings and ideas in one picture. Thank you so much for sharing this, I hope it goes to inspire her some more, keeps everyone’s spirits up in this strange and uncertain time💖🌠

    • Gwen Riley Jones

      Dear Penelope, I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the post and I really hope its useful for your daughter. Please let her know that is she takes a look through our digitised collections, its a great idea to search ‘illustration’ or ‘illumination’ to help her look for source material that might inspire her. I hope these posts in some way help her through this time that she isn’t able to bounce off her friends. Perhaps they could set themselves a similar group challenge and share their outputs with each other? And us! If they do that I’d love to see it! Tell her good luck from us, and to keep making work! It will keep her going!

  3. Jane Gallagher

    Thanks Gwen and looking forward to seeing more from the team. We’re so lucky to have such a skilled and enthusiastic team at the University Library!

Leave a Reply