In celebration of International Women’s Day 2020, GSA Archives and Collections remember “A Feminist Chorus”, a spoken word project by Lucy Reynolds in collaboration with MAP Magazine in 2014. Drawing on the collections in the Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL), the City’s Archives and The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections, a Feminist Chorus was performed live at the GWL and two sound installations were later installed at both the Glasgow School of Art and Blythswood Square (more information on the performance, its creation and its initial release can be found here).
Lucy Reynolds works as an artist, curator and academic explores the questions of feminism, political space and collectivity through a practice of film, performance and sound – which often invites and involves others. Her films and performances seek to excavate the rich seams of memory and experience inscribed in sites of a feminist resonance: from Greenham Common to the Glasgow Women’s Library, bringing these pasts into a contemporary register through the collective voice and memories of current day women. She is interested in the potential of creative collaboration for generating new ways of making art, and re-imagining what a feminist practice might be in the future.
MAP publish artist writing, film, video, performance, audio and readings, alongside interviews, conversations and critical essays. Working across on-and offline situations, MAP curates an expanded site for re-examining and developing practices of active looking, reading, creating and sharing. We regularly commission and distribute new work online and programme concurrent events.
See our interview with the project below.
Why did you use GSA Archives & Collections?
MAP (an independent producer and publisher based at CCA, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, www.mapmagazine.co.uk) worked in collaboration with artist Lucy Reynolds on A Feminist Chorus, a project that required historical GSA material specifically that which related to women students in the early days of the school at the turn of the 20th century. A Feminist Chorus is a collaged collection of texts taken from three Glasgow sources—GSA, the Mitchell Library, Glasgow and the Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL).
The texts from the GSA segment were recorded using the voices of women students enrolled at GSA today. This recording was then edited and installed as a sound work in the GSA’s Hen Run during Glasgow International throughout April 2014.
To create a second recording, installed at Blythswood Square, previously headquarters to the Society of Lady Artists’ Club, MAP invited contemporary women artists based in Glasgow to read from texts illustrating the clubs’ activities during the same period. These texts were found in the Mitchell Library.
The GWL texts were selected by individual members of A Feminist Chorus choir and were read during a live, filmed performance of the complete score of archived texts (included those from GSA and the Mitchell). The texts are currently being compiled into a limited edition book to be published by MAP at the end of 2014.
Had you used archives or museum collections previously in your work?
Yes, all members of MAP and the commissioned artist have used archives for study, research and teaching purposes.
What was your experience of visiting the Archives & Collections Centre?
Fast, helpful, friendly and efficient.
What did you find out from our holdings?
The GSA annual reports and registers offered a vivid snapshot of the life of women art students from the end of the 19th century. Being able to use a selection from these volumes in a contemporary context was key to the project.
Has your visit led you to using other Archive / Museum sources?
We were already using other archives, but using the GSA holdings has been a valuable experience, leading to exciting realms of knowledge that we have been able to interpret through performance and publication. We will be very keen to continue to use this wonderful resource.
Adding a communal voice to Glasgow’s feminist history, ‘A Feminist Chorus’ was created by Lucy Reynolds in collaboration with MAP. Reynolds is interested in the collective power of the Women’s Movement, (with Greenham Common as the subject of her film installation ‘Silo Walk’, 2009) tracing it on this occasion through the spaces, writings and memories of the city.
A limited edition of 300 copies of the score for A Feminist Chorus was designed and printed by Gabriella Marcella of Risotto Studios. Edited by co-producers at MAP, Alice Bain and Laura Edbrook.