Northumbria Archive 2014 – 2016


The Charles Sims (1873-1928) archive at Northumbria University is the source for this series of drawings. Initial studies in the archive seek to investigate connections between approaches and techniques pertinent to both Paper Conservation retouching and to drawing of another drawing in Fine Art practice. More specifically this first series of six large exploratory drawings, together with supporting in-situ sketches, notes, and photography, explore an example drawing lesson by nineteenth century artist and teacher John Ruskin in which a trace of an original drawing is placed over the copy. This test of practical observation skills is employed using retouching techniques particularly associated with painting conservation.

Series 2 aims to separate layers and juxtapositions within a single sketch selected from the archive. Conservation retouching techniques inform documentation of this process.

Northumbria Archive Series 3 tests speculative methods for conservation retouching of a small sketchbook study found in the Charles Sims archive at Northumbria University.

Active at the turn of the twentieth century Sims drawings are of interest as examples of drawing practice poised between traditional figurative aesthetics and modernist material concerns. A number of drawings by Sims have been selected for research. Studying and drawing in the archive has highlighted Sims’ custom of manipulating his earlier drawings by means of tracing, retouching, repeating, rescaling and pricking out, all pointing to observation and copy at the core of an inventive visual practice.