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Guest Blog: Clara Searle, Archives and Special Collections Centre Volunteer

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Published date 31 July 2018

Volunteer Clara cataloguing single-issue comics from the Les Coleman collection. (c) Robin Sampson

With a strong interest in popular culture, design and comic books, I knew a volunteer position at the ASCC would be an opportunity I couldn’t miss; archiving is an area I’d always considered delving into and so far my work experience has really taught me, not only how a thriving and functioning archive is run, but how my creative interests can be incorporated into a career.

In July 2017 I graduated from London College of Fashion, UAL with a degree in BA Fashion Illustration, and following this I decided to pursue an MA in Publishing at UCL; over the 3 years of my undergraduate degree I’d learnt that I loved engaging and working with artists’ work and that was something I wanted from a career. Having kept in touch with one of my tutors from LCF through social media, she’d seen I was watching The Shining and immediately put me in touch with the ASCC to go see the Stanley Kubrick Archive. I couldn’t believe how extensive the archive was and realised that it was somewhere I could see myself wanting to work.

I began my volunteer work in June 2018, and have been working with the extensive range of comic books held by the archive. I have been predominantly engaging with the Les Coleman Collection which features underground comic artists such as Robert Crumb, Jeff Johnson, and Charles Burns. Whilst I had grown up reading more conventional comics (a large number of which are also available in the archive’s Comic Book Collection), I found that the more abstract, adult, and perhaps controversial, titles of the Les Coleman Collection are those I can really connect with now. Whilst my time has primarily been spent cataloguing the mini comics and anthologies from the collection, having a chance to flick through such a creative plethora of work has been the undeniable highlight of the placement for me.

The tasks have been varied and balanced, and the interaction with material has prevented any possibility of monotony to the work; as an illustrator, a film lover, or just as someone who loves delving through pop culture history, the ASCC is an incredible source of inspiration, knowledge, and enjoyment.


Clara Searle, Volunteer