This month, we have a guest blog from Alice Mew, Collections Volunteer
April marks the sixth month I have been volunteering with the collections team here at the Mary Rose Trust. Archiving the 35mm film strips has slowly become part of my weekly routine. Each Monday I encounter a new set of photographs, another layer of history waiting to be uncovered. I came to the project as a museum enthusiast and a novice archivist, eager to pull on a pair of white gloves with hopes to learn the practical skills of digitising photographic material. But the truly unique part about this project is the (rather special) added bonus of following the story of the excavation. Every Monday I see Tudor objects within the depths of Portsmouth dockyard make their way from a cloudy underwater image into the hands of a diver above sea level, given to a conservator to clean and examine, recorded by an illustrator and photographed with a photo scale reference before ending up in store or on display within the museum. I’ve found this particular part of the complex narrative (understanding the roles of those involved in excavating the ship and her many artefacts) to be the most rewarding part of archiving. You are transported back to 1980s Portsmouth and invited behind the scenes of the excavation through those moments capturing the crew. They effectively punctuate the mass of photographic material, grounding this particular history of the ship in those who rose her.
I wanted to recreate our experience within the archive and bring together a set of images that were scanned on one day. They have been selected in hopes of showing the breadth of images we encounter: from archaeological demonstrations of airlifting from the sea bed, to divers eating sandwiches at sea level. Because we scan the images chronologically, you begin to get a real sense of how one particular day in the project panned out.