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Semantic Archive

A dialogue on the acquisition of meaning within the archival and artistic methods. 2013


Preface The Semantic Archive has followed the pattern of enquiry and reflection common to both artistic creation and academic research. The archive staff selected 16 documents from the 8 miles of shelves and wrote a small note to explain their choice. The documents were selected for their resonance within a field of study or for their personal significance to the individual who selected them. The associated notes were sealed and only revealed to the artists once they had made their selection and begun to create artworks in response to the archive. This process of selection and isolation revealed new aspects upon the archive, which previously had not been explored. The project rejected the immediate capture of images through photography in favour of retaining the duration inherent within the artists’ creative method. The artist was required to create their response through deliberate and considered mark making, where each stroke of the pencil retained a reference to the consumption of time. Just as an archivist searches for revelation within the past the artists looked for and recorded their own observations, which were translated to the creation of drawings. Space was made within the project for contemplation and conversation; quiet passages of time within which the artist created a new meaning for the archival document and enriching conversations extended the understanding of both artist and archivist. This artist-made book binds together a selection of these works. The book will be donated to the archive and will be included as part of an exhibition of the artists’ work at the Young Gallery, Salisbury in October 2014. Peter Tyas Julie Smith


Acc.1619H CR


G25/223/1 KM


G25/223/1 KM


628/7/MS SK


A1/265/11 LG


“My argument is that history is made by men and women, just as it can also be unmade and rewritten, always with various silence and elisions, always with shape imposed and disfigurements tolerated.� Edward W. Said This project is a visual exploration of these ideas by 15 artists using only a 2B pencil.

The document seemed to be returning to natural state, fibrous leaves with soft edges fragmenting into nothing. It reminded me of the cycles of production and decay; and the historical discourse on the survival of evidence. I was struck by the idea that thoughts would have been placed on these pages for safekeeping, but the very pages were betraying that trust by turning into dust.


Fragile Exact List 1739 PJ


628/7/MS SK


Acc.1619H CR


161/109 MC


A3/125/2 JS


patent design for an adjustable pencil

I can do nothing more than laugh at the style and precision of the author of this excellent display of good humour and satire.

‌they remind us that hindsight can colour our view of events, invasion was considered a certainty after the fall of France and detailed planning was put in place to deal with it when it happened.


161/109 JT


1340/76 RG


1340/76 RG


161/109 EH


1738/1 GC


F8/500/263/1/2 EM


A/265/11 LG


161/109 RH


161/109 MC


2667/22/ Box 4 BM


2667/22/ Box 4 BM


The letter’s beauty is not just visual, in the carefully written words of a schoolboy, but in his unassuming sadness and realisation of his family’s mortality and his duty as eldest son. The use of language is interesting and so are the sentences, which seem harsh at first glance, but are comparable with sentences for minor theft at that time. The head teacher clearly following closely the progress of ex pupils involved in the conflict and notes in the logbook when they were killed, wounded, awarded medals for bravery etc.


1735/1 ZS


A3125/2 JS


This document is illuminated so the different crowns of the titles shine with gold. To touch, also, it is soft and luxurious. The modesty of the roll shields the beauty inside; a small roll, delicate and with simple information yet so attractive to look at and to touch. “All knowledge that is about human society, and not about the natural world, is historical knowledge, and therefore rests upon judgement and interpretation. This is not to say that facts or data are nonexistent, but that facts get their importance from what is made of them in interpretation‌for interpretation depend very much on who the interpreter is, who he or she is addressing, what his or her purpose is, at what historical moment the interpretation takes place.â€? Edward W. Said


161/109 MC


Fragile Exact List 1739 PJ


End Notes Catalogue Reference Number Short Description 628/7/MS Parish Map fisherton 1738/1 Parish Register 1738/1 Parish Register A1/265/11 Quarter Session Juror's List 1739 (A complete List) A1/265/11 Quarter Session Juror's List 1739 (A complete List) 161/109 1774 letter 161/109 1774 letter 161/109 1774 letter 161/109 1774 letter Acc. 1619H Hanging Map F8/500/263/1/2 school log book F8/500/263/1/2 school log book G25/223/1 Invasion committee book G25/223/1 Invasion committee book A3 125/2 Court session 1868 1340/76 Patent design 2667/22/ Box 4 Surrender of Wardour Castle Fragile Exact List 1739

Artists Susan Kester Zoe Seed George Ciora Peta Jacobs Lorraine Green Maris Cole Judy Thomson Ruth Henderson Emma Hodges Cathy Richardson Eleanore May Kay McCrann Kay McCrann Liwia Dekert Julie Smith Roger Green Beatrice Mar Peta Jacobs


2B/15 JS


Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre 2014


Design by: Nicky Ackland-Snow nicky@jackgraphics.co.uk


Semantic Archive  

The Semantic Archive is a collaborative project which seeks to explore the connections between archival processes and the interpretation of...

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