Pathway: CD, SP-ARK, NFT1 by Charles Drazin

The Living Archive

The great joy of archives is the way that they allow you to see behind the facade, to bring alive the thinking that resulted in the documents. For this reason, I find notes such as this irresistible. In their immediacy, they help you get into the mind of the artist more than the work itself. The finished painting, book or film is as much a process of hiding as revealing. But if you come across notes such as these in an archive, then you begin to get that wonderful sense of being able to see all.

Watermarked paper, handwritten, with wax seal, Paper, [front] Letter from artist Christopher Hobbs concerning his set paintings for

This is the only letter I have found on the site so far. Whenever I'm in an archive I find myself drawn to letters, because they are much more full of individual life and personality than scripts, budgets, call sheets, photographs, etc. So more letters please. And emails!

Video file, Digital, Unedited video rushes of location scouting at Hatfield house -- Sally Potter with Alexei Rodionov operating camera

The artist in a maze. I thought this was a terrific symbol of the creative process. You can't find the words or the image, you're not quite sure which way to turn. Is it this way or that way? Yet you want to push on. You want to get to the other side. It also happens to be one of my favourite moments in the film. A sublime transition through time, which makes me recall with fondness Colonel Blimp plunging into a Turkish bath and climbing out the other side forty years later. Somewhere else on the SP-ARK site (I think Sally Potter's DVD commentary), I learnt that the maze was a last-minute thing. It came with the house, and must have seemed too good not to try to use. It is a great example of the vital importance of chance in creation.

Video file, Digital, Selected Scene Commentary by Sally Potter

1 x colour slide in transparent plastic hanging sheet, Digital, Film Stills - Scene 3 - Queen Elizabeth I (Quentin Crisp) in the film

Video file, Digital, Screen Test - Quentin Crisp reading Elizabeth I

This is a little frustrating. I can’t get Quentin Crisp to speak. I’m longing to hear what he has to say. This sort of material is another example of the 'potency of life' that one longs to find in an archive - a place where the ghosts from the past can speak to you.

Video file, Digital, Screen Test - Quentin Crisp reading Elizabeth I

Please to find sometime later that now Quentin can speak!

Video file, Digital, Venice Film Festival Press Conference

The three assets that follow are all examples of Sally Potter giving a public account of her work: a press conference, a DVD extra and a diary intended for publication from the outset. They all serve to provide enormous insight, but there is a sense now of passing out of the secret garden into the public world.

Black and white book pages, Paper, On Tour With '-Sally Potter's diary published in 'Projections 3' on 21/03/1994

Whenever I see a published diary, I find myself thinking wouldn't it be more interesting to see the unpublished diary. Part of the value of an archive lies in the way that we are able to see what we were not originally intended to see - thought captured without preparing itself.