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Volunteering at the Archives and Special Collections Centre: Paul Campbell

Published date
16 Oct 2017

I have been volunteering at the ASCC since August 2017. I am pursuing a career change from digital marketing to archives management because I am passionate about collecting and cataloguing elements of history that tell fascinating stories about society.

I am working on a project to catalogue the personal papers of the artist and illustrator Les Coleman whose collection of underground and alternative comic books we hold. So far I have listed over 80 papers which mainly consist of photocopies of work from other artists including Robert Crumb, René Magritte and Maurice Sinet and Roland Topor. His collection of Robert Crumb material is the most varied out of what I have seen covering catalogues, press reviews for the controversial biopic Crumb and a dedicated section in the Guardian called G2 in Crumbland.

Reading Coleman’s handwritten notes which accompany most of the photocopied material has given me an insight into what a meticulous researcher he was and how he wanted to use examples of artists’ work for his books.

On a personal note, I was pleased to discover through reading the correspondence he had with publishers that he once lived a mile away from my hometown in Battersea, south London!

Over the last three months I have enjoyed being curious about what inspired Coleman to collect each piece of material and mapping out the relationships between each one. I have learned that these relationships may not be immediately obvious but to keep an open mind and not overthink it as the themes will develop over time.

I feel honoured to have the opportunity to document this collection and I hope it will inform and inspire the next generation of artists.


Written by Paul Campbell, ASCC Volunteer

Image Credit: Georgina Orgill