Hope Fulton has been appointed as our full-time archivist and will initially oversee the cataloguing and digitization of our archival material. Once this complicated process is completed, our collection will be made accessible to researchers both physically and via an online catalogue.
Here, Hope shares her first impressions of the archive and what her current work entails:
“My current and most pressing task is to go through the entirety of this incredible collection, all 371 boxes of it, to see just what we have and how I can arrange it. Arrangement is hugely important in the archive world; arranging things in either their original order or by the department that created them allows the documents to provide context for each other. It will also make it easier for me, my colleagues and members of the public alike to find what they’re looking for.
The process of listing what every box contains has been a great experience. On a daily basis, I am delighted, surprised and very occasionally taken aback, as I stumble across items from over 40 years of Riverside’s history. Some items are the very fabric of Riverside’s history (quite literally in the case of a piece of cinema carpet we have), and some - such as an entire magazine with a very brief mention of Riverside in a rather obscure article - are incredibly tenuously linked to us, yet still provide an insight to the culture and world in which Riverside has existed.
I am so excited to see the collection through arrangement, cataloguing and digitisation, alongside the outreach and engagement which breathes life back into the archive.”
This month we have also begun leading free historical tours of Riverside Studios, during which we share the stories behind our buildings’ plaques, guide participants through our photographic exhibition and allow some behind-the-scenes access. As a parting gift, each attendee is given a full set of our popular Riverside Icons coasters.
Additionally, we have been added to Hammersmith & Fulham’s Black History Trail, which means we accommodate visiting local school parties and introduce them to stories and visual material celebrating black artists who have worked at Riverside, including Eartha Kitt and Benjamin Zephaniah.
Our first archive volunteer has been appointed to assist our archivist Hope with cataloguing the contents of our 300+ archive boxes. Here, Holden tells us about the sort of work he’s been involved with so far:
“I was delighted to become a volunteer in the archives at Riverside Studios this summer. Working in close co-ordination with Hope Fulton, the senior archivist, has been a gratifying and educational experience so far, and I am looking forward to learning more in my time here. In the weeks that I have been working at Riverside I have witnessed the archive gradually taking shape, transforming from a collection of boxes housing unknown and indeterminate materials into an archival catalogue that will be used to assist budding historians, researchers, artists and beyond. I have really enjoyed being part of this unravelling, and I am grateful to Hope and Daniel, the Projects Manager, for allowing me to assist in this process.
The archive itself is full of interesting documents and is a wonderful resource. Through internal briefing documents, press releases and cuttings you can chart the careers of the many actors, musicians and artists who performed and exhibited at Riverside over the years, and there is a real thrill in opening a box, uncertain of what or who might pop out. Riverside itself is a fascinating institution, and it has been edifying charting the stages of its life. It has metamorphosed from a TV studio used by the BBC to an arts centre presenting the best in European dance, through to a multimedia space with a cinema, TV studio and space for performing arts, now with a marvellous temperature-controlled archive to boot. Working in the archive makes you aware of the difficult decisions involved in these transformations in the appeals for funding, fight against budget cuts, and desire to stay relevant to audiences in rapidly changing times.
If this process sounds interesting to you, I would really recommend volunteering in the archives and learning more about the various, meandering histories that constitute Riverside Studios.”
August - September 2022