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Stone and Bronze Sculptures’, British Pavilion, Venice Biennale (1982)

Barry Flanagan represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1982. This retrospective, like the recent Tate show ‘Barry Flanagan: Early works 1965 – 1982’ (September 2011 – January 2012), included work crafted in stone, canvas, sheet metal and bronze spanning his career from the early 1960s to 1982.

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Title:Stone and Bronze Sculptures’, British Pavilion, Venice Biennale (1982)

Blurb:Explore materials relating to the British Pavilion

On the exhibition page, one is provided with comprehensive information on the exhibition including dates and a list of works shown, and other touring venues, namely the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London and Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld. Scrolling down, the page displays a list of 20 archive files containing material related to the exhibition, complete with reference numbers and thumbnails of any scanned images. These links take the user away from the artworks section and into the archive catalogue.

 

The first two files listed are posters (JBF/5/6/1.8 & 9) for this exhibition, and the touring show at the Whitechapel. One is in Italian and shows one of Flanagan’s hare drawings, while the other is illustrated by an installation shot showing Soprano, 1981 in the foreground. The poster, in turn, is linked to this artwork, enabling further related browsing. These files form part of a series of posters acquired by Flanagan featuring his work and promoting his exhibitions, providing an insight into how they were presented to the public.

 

Visual material, in particular photographs, form a central component of the archive. A wide variety of prints, in addition to slides and negatives, range from installation shots and studio shots of work, to source material for work and photographs of trips and events. Files of photographs linked to the exhibition include images of a gathering held in AB Fine Art Foundry prior to the Biennale (JBF/3/4/2.6). Flanagan maintained a life long connection with the east London foundry and these images show him socialising with friends and colleagues in amongst his work. Installation shots by Anthony Stokes (JBF/3/6/1/3.3) give an insight into how the show was curated. A file of photographs compiled for publication in the exhibition catalogue for a retrospective at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin in 2006 (JBF/3/7/1/2.2) is also linked to the exhibition page. These include a photograph of Flanagan with David Brown of The Tate Gallery and The British Council, at the Biennale by Hester van Roijen, who owned her own gallery and used to work for Waddington Galleries, London.

 

Administrative papers, while less visually appealing, arguably provide researchers with a better impression of how the artist operated behind the scenes. They map out the organisation of exhibitions, the scheduling of media appearances and the proofing of publications. Many of these kinds of papers, including correspondence, invoices, drafts and inventories, are arranged in a category called Operational Papers (JBF/6). Here one can find a chronology of Flanagan’s life drawn up for the Biennale catalogue by one of Flanagan’s assistants (JBF/6/2/8.4). A file of correspondence with the British Council regarding the return of photographs used in the exhibition catalogue (JBF/6/3/1.4) is also linked to the exhibition page.

 

Audiovisual material forms a small but exciting portion of the archive. Flanagan rarely made media appearances, but some of the recordings held in the archive are linked to the Biennale exhibition page. These include Lynne Cooke’s 1982 interview with Flanagan (JBF/4/1.1). The audio recording formed the backing to a slide show featured in the show when it toured to the Whitechapel Gallery. An episode of the South Bank Show, broadcast in 1983 included Melvyn Bragg’s interview with Flanagan that references the exhibition in Venice (JBF/4/1.2). Clips of other audiovisual material can be accessed online in the ‘Media’ section of the website.

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