Alex's Pics

Bridgeman's Footage Cataloguing & Research Manager (Maternity cover) reveals his favourite images and clips in the archive

 
1. What is your role at Bridgeman?
 
I am maternity cover for the Footage Manager, Holly, overseeing existing and incoming footage collections while she is away. I edit and catalogue new content and provide footage research support to our sales teams in the London and international offices. Before Bridgeman, I worked in the British Library Sound and Vision Archive for eight years. I left in 2014. Since, I've been working in various roles in the audio-visual archive sector including English Folk Dance Song Society, the National Jazz Archive, Goldsmiths University. I've also worked in the music industry for Warp and Rough Trade and I run the record label, Public Information.

 
2. What do you love most about the job?
 

Research. I have just returned to academia to study for an AHRC funded PhD, researching Independent Film and Video in Yorkshire between 1970-1990. Much like that diverse area of study, here at Bridgeman, no two-research projects are the same. As requests flood in, it is a joy to search through our archival collections and find content that connects to the project; from early 20th Century home movies, to WWII war footage, arts documentaries, and experimental animation the Bridgeman Footage collection is a constantly growing resource to fit many of the most fascinating projects. As an experienced audio-visual archivist it is exciting to see this research manifest itself into something tangible like a documentary; it makes everything we do worthwhile. 

 
3. What misconceptions do clients most commonly have about the archive? 
 
That Footage exists at all. I have colleagues who have worked in footage archives all their lives who have heard of the internationally recognised Bridgeman Images, but didn’t know we had a footage collection. That perception is changing, thankfully, as we continue to add more collections and archive researchers and film-makers realise we can offer a different, bespoke service to suit their project’s needs.

 

Alex Wilson, Footage Manager

 




Alex's favourite images and clips in the archive are...

 

 

John Cage / Creative Arts Television / Bridgeman Footage

 

 
 
 
 

A fascinating interview from 1978 with a titan of the avant-garde, during which the smoking, brown-suited Cage philosophises and muses on the very concept of sound - revolutionary ideas that still shock and influence to this day. I particularly like the sequence when Cage and Kroll listen to excerpts from ‘Variations 2’ and the ‘Williams Mix’. Metallic sound crashes. Radio dials are twisted. Musique concrète cut-ups scrape. Tone generators scream. Interviewer Kroll tries to raise a smile. Cage does not move. Important stuff, from inside the mind of a genius.

 
Many years ago, as a history undergraduate, I studied 20th Century African-American history. At the centre of my thesis was a study of music and the Black Panther Movement. This stunning sequence of Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver is taken from an extended batch of clips we have from this era: buzzing with, pride, passion, invective and style. To see the pair speak so eloquently about their struggle is highly powerful. That the issues they speak of –police brutality, inequality, housing and education- are still at the centre of the debate in 2016 is a damning state of affairs.

 

Black Panther Party leaders Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver speaking in 1969 / Bridgeman Footage

 

 

Living at Thamesmead, 1973, part 1 - Establishing shots, children playing, girl waiting for boy / London Metropolitan Archives, City of London / Bridgeman Footage

 

 
Part 1 of the GLC funded public information film, Living At Thamesmead, is a semi-fictional account of a couple that live in the estate. This opening chapter establishes the new modernist estate as a utopian concrete space of swimming pools, children’s play, and bright sunshine. We follow the teenage couple throughout the documentary as they make use of the ‘exciting’ facilities Thamesmead has to offer its residents.
 
Three years before this documentary was made, Kubrick shot Alex and his droogs indulging in a spot of ultra-violence around Thamesmead for A Clockwork Orange. While Tom (Spencer Banks), Living In Thamesmead’s awkward teenager would next appear in Alan Clarke’s ground-breaking TV play, Penda’s Fen (1974).
 
I Am A Professional Yorkshireman. This 1970 documentary, then, was bound to appeal. This is part four of the seven part doc, One of Our Own directed by John Edwards and narrated by thespian Anthony Quayle (Lawrence of Arabia, The Guns of Navarone, Ice Cold In Alex).
 
In this section, we get the handsome Arthington viaduct, the meandering River Wharf, an historic printing press, and scenes from a roaring iron foundry (my favourite sub-genre of industrial footage). Hot off the presses we also receive news of ‘The Death of Gordon’, with Quayle remarking - “Dear me, is that all the news we’ve got to print? Bit depressing ‘int it? Never mind…” Proper Yorkshire, that.

 

One of Our Own Kind part four - rural scenes and landmarks in Yorkshire, iron foundry, printing press. 1970 / Buff Film & Video Library / Bridgeman Footage

 

 

 Hull Illustrated (engraving), English School, (19th century) / Private Collection / © Look and Learn / Illustrated Papers Collection / Bridgeman Images

 

 
 
 
This 19th century engraving draws a vivid scene from the city of my birth. The market place. The docks. The Theatre Royal. The world revered fishing trade. The River Humber. Poet, Andrew Marvell. Leader of the Abolitionist movement, William Wilberforce… Much of this has gone now, The Blitz and time's winged chariot’ put paid to that, but what remains is a great city of fine architecture, no-nonsense people, high energy and creativity. What was once named the UK’s No.1‘Crap Town’ will celebrate its status as the UK Capital of Culture in 2017, and I can’t wait to show everyone what ‘ull (one drops the ‘H’ in pronunciation) is really all about. 

 

 

Changing Nappies

I am soon to become a father for the first time. Simultaneously petrified, underprepared and excited by this prospect, I have become hypnotised by this clip. That is all.

 

 

Changing nappies and feeding - a how to for new mothers / The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision / Bridgeman Footage

 

J. G. Ballard, outside his home in Shepperton, 1973 (photo) / Photo © David Reed / Bridgeman Images

 

 

 

 

J G Ballard

Ballard is one of my all-time favourite authors. I love this image of him at the home where he scribed some of the most harrowing, visionary fiction ever committed to prose. In the photo, the writer of mind-bending stories like The Drowned World, High Rise and Crash leans in front of his semi-detached house in the unassuming West London suburb of Shepperton – it could be anyone, anywhere.

If you cut under the surface, however, it is brilliantly Ballardian. What lurks behind the net curtain? What horrors lay in the overgrown foliage? The sound of the nearby M3. The shabby white fence. The sinister grimace. The prostrate dog.  All possible clues to something uncanny afoot.  

 

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