Living in and out of psychiatric hospitals, the artist Audrey Amiss documented her everyday life in a striking visual diary. When she died, her family donated her archive of hundreds of scrapbooks, sketchbooks and notebooks to Wellcome Collection. In this series, archivist Elena Carter writes about cataloguing and caring for the collection to understand the artist’s life, which is also the subject of the feature film ‘Typist Artist Pirate King’, directed by Wellcome Screenwriting Fellow Carol Morley.
Elena Carter introduces the vast collection left behind by artist Audrey Amiss, who documented her life in astonishing detail.
Work begins in earnest to restore order to the archive Audrey Amiss kept of the minutest happenings in her life. Like detectives, the archivists search for subtle clues to chronology in the mass of materials.
In working on Audrey Amiss’s archive, Elena is getting closer to understanding her. But the way her niece and nephew remember Audrey adds essential detail to the picture.
Elena describes how specially designed storage allows Audrey’s scrapbooks to retain all traces of her creative process, although their intrinsic fragility means deterioration is almost inevitable.
Available 30 March 2023
Available 6 April 2023
About the contributors
Elena Carter focuses on developing the collections at Wellcome to challenge the way that we think and feel about health. Elena is particularly interested in radical and social histories and material that gives voice to marginalised groups. As Collections Development Archivist, she works directly with people to find the best home for their materials, with a focus on working collaboratively and ethically.
Kate works at Pushkin Press. When not submerged in a book, she can be found walking or practising Spanish. Sometimes both at once.