The hotly anticipated re-launch of the South West Image Bank is proof that heritage projects working in the South West are not ALL on the decline !
Set up in 2007 as the 50th anniversary initiative of the Plymouth Barbican Trust with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the photographic archive – which is managed by a full time qualified Archivist supported by a team of some 30 volunteers – has grown from strength to strength in a relatively short space of time.
Wholly dependent upon the good will of the PBT and external funding support, SWiB started out from very humble beginnings with just one collection, one computer and a very small office. By 2010 SWiB had developed to such a degree that a further application for HLF funding was produced, submitted and approved which from June of this year enabled the archive to relocate from very small and cramped premises in Looe Street to a bigger, better and fully accessible premises on the Parade.
Building work within the new building has now been completed to house the rapidly expanding archive and includes the creation of stimulating public access gallery spaces with interactive technologies and educational displays as well as designated display areas to both show case the SWiB archives and allow onsite searches for images. There is also a small shop area and ample office space to accommodate their growing team of volunteers ! A bespoke archive storage suite has been purposely installed which will enable the SWiB to continue in its good work to safeguard the region’s important visual heritage.
The SWiB is now recognised as a specialist photographic repository in the City which cares for over 160 collections covering the South West region dating back to the 1870s through to the present day. These unique archives have been deposited with the archive by local businesses, photographers and members of the public.
On the afternoon of the 10th November, an official public launch ceremony will be held to formerly launch the opening of SWiB’s new archive and gallery premises. This event will be attended by the Deputy Lord Mayor and Deputy Lady Moyoress, a representative from the Heritage Lottery Fund South West and members of the press including local radio personality Gordon Sparks, a good friend of the archive who has agreed to cut the obligatory ribbon ! There will also be those who have been directly involved with the archive including the Directors and the SWiB Project Outreach Officer Colette Hobbs, who has been appointed with the HLF grant to encourage and support the archive’s learning and participation targets.
The event will serve to really highlight the existence of this unique little jem which has been a relatively unsung hero in working to provide access to the City’s important heritage and has served as a silent catalyst for many other organisations in developing their public services. With better and more central premises, the SWiB is now finally getting the public accolade it deserves.
Following the official re-launch, the SWiB gallery and archive will be open to all visitors from 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday to Friday and some Saturdays.