In 2011, as part of her MFA Degree Show, Shelton Walker started to draw the Library’s entire Artists’ Books Collection – that’s over 1,000 books! Each book was rendered in exquisite detail in its own pencil drawing, with the drawings then collectively stored in a shipping container moored on the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow ready for transport to the ocean. By doing so, Shelton imagines a fictionalized future world in which cultural archives, through pressure on space and resources, are transported to the nation’s coasts to remain unseen in huge outsourced repositories. Shelton explains:
“Through the process of drawing, I investigate and unpack the logic of the archive and recorded history. What do we elect to remember? And what do we allow to be forgotten? Often archive- and location-specific, I use hyperbolised, fictional proposals to visualise the effects wilful neglect of recorded knowledge can have on our history and our environment.
My drawings to date have been developed through dialogue with archivists, proposing a Swift-ian ‘solution’ to a hypothetical situation: as the volume of records continues to grow, yet digitised formats become the norm, the allocation of physical space to store archives diminishes in priority. Cultural, business, educational and governmental bodies then elect to relocate their collections to coastlines around the globe.”