The Doc Rowe Archive and Collection has announced an exhibition of artworks inspired by the archive, following confirmation of Arts Council support.
Two fine artists and a photographer – Natalie Reid, Anna FC Smith and Bryony Bainbridge (see more details on each below)– are set to work with folklorist and collector, Doc Rowe, to explore his archive and collection, amassed over decades of documentation of British folk culture and customs.
Following three days of research and development at the archive, based in Whitby, the artists will create new, original artworks which explore the meaning and content of the archive, as well as contemplating Doc Rowe as a collector.
Traditional song and custom have been the focus of Doc Rowe’s life. His voracious documentation of customs – including an annual pilgrimage to Padstow’s May Day since 1963 – has seen him amass an enviable collection which is currently housed in Whitby. A seasoned teacher, speaker, broadcaster and writer on traditional song and custom, Doc is in demand for his knowledge. He is a committee member of the Folklore Society and the Oral History Society, and a member the Traditional Song Forum, and has been awarded an honorary doctorate and the English Folk Dance and Song Society’s Gold Badge for his services to traditional song and dance.
The Museum of British Folklore previously collaborated with Doc Rowe on two exhibitions in 2012 (hosted by the Museum of East Anglian Life) to draw attention to the valuable work and this short video montage gives a great feel for richness of folklore and customs covered.
The new artworks will be displayed alongside a curated selection of pieces from the archive chosen to reflect customs found in the area local to the exhibition or selected in order to complement the themes explored through the new artworks.
Project manager, Stephanie West, says:
“Doc Rowe’s archive is of national importance and significance. The sheer volume of audio and video material documenting British folk culture is unmatched by any other collection in the country, and for the first time, we have the opportunity to understand its continuing relevance by opening it up to artist interpretation.
“The exhibition will allow us to explore the role of the folklorist and collector in the present day, and how intangible traditional customs can be ‘preserved’ for future reflection and artistic contemplation.”
Research and development is underway, with the exhibition opening in two locations in 2018.
For more information and for future developments including exhibition venues, please visit the project blog at http://
Fascinated by people, Bryony Bainbridge’s photography has an earthy documentary feel enhanced through analog and medium format film. Graduating in Fine Art from Newcastle University in 2011, Bryony’s portraiture featured in the Inspirational Women of the North East project which exhibited at the Hatton Gallery and has since toured across the UK. www.facebook.com/BryonyBainbridgeArt
Natalie Reid is a visual artist, illustrator and printmaker, whose practice is influenced by and seeks to explore the human relationship with traditional customs and cultural history. Her illustration skills, often incorporating the written word, and her fascination for folksong has led her to illustrate artwork for musicians, including multi-award winning band, The Unthanks.
Anna FC Smith
Multimedia artist, Anna FC Smith, locates herself between artist, historian and anthropologist, with a longstanding interest in folk culture and communal traditions.