Reflection: Hazel Shepherd

Some thoughts from undergradute Hazel Shepherd on the workshop held at the Rylands:

I have to confess that, for me, much of the morning programme feeling rather nervous at the prospect of having to present later on, though when the time came I successfully avoided having to speak at all! Of course I was paying attention to the other speakers really, and found the variety of experience very interesting. I’m relatively new to considering the issues around trying to preserve and find use for a supposedly ‘defunct’ slide collection, and I’m slightly ashamed to say that I just hadn’t thought about all the different slide collections out there, and how their differing histories and contents make such a difference to the problems of conservation and access. I now feel much more aware of these variances, and know not to take for granted exactly which questions are being asked about particular slide collections.

The session upstairs looking at particular objects from the Library’s collection also caused me to wonder about how individual items, never intended to last forever, could find themselves conserved and part of such an institution. Photographs that perhaps had been taken to serve as private mementos or keepsakes are now looked at by people who have no idea of whose likeness they are looking at, or why it should have been so remarkable. While this thought made me slightly uncomfortable, it also made me consider the reverence we pay to physical objects, that I really don’t think we feel in anything like the same way for digital files, even if they are reproductions of the same object, or photographs of those we love. It is possible for the physical object to seem under threat in the way that a digital file never could, and it is the need we feel to protect these objects that gives rise to projects and workshops such as these, helping us to understand the different opinions people have of their objects, and I am glad to have been part of such an enjoyable day.

Though, I must admit, my personal highlight was probably being left in charge of the slide projector for a bit – there’s something so satisfying about those things.

Hazel Shepherd
Undergraduate, Art History and Visual Studies

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