Sound Art at Tate Archive

Based at Tate Britain, Tate Archive was founded in 1970. It holds the world’s largest collection of items relating to British art, from 1900 to the present. It contains more than a million artifacts arranged in 900 individual collections (The National Archives, 2018). Included in the Archive are papers from Francis Bacon, Kenneth Clark, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland and Walter Sickert (Tate, n.d.).


The rolling stacks in the archive store. Tate, 2010.

While still relying on the “impenetrable rows and rows of boxes on shelves” module and only allowing visitors to request particular items while waiting in a concealed subterranean room (off-putting?), Tate Archive gives access to an incredible reserve of items. From artworks to letters, journals, audio recordings, photographs, sketches, objects, diaries, and audiovisual material. The collection has started its process of digitalisation a few years ago and currently holds 52,000 items on its digital archive.

I recently discovered that cassettes’ from William Furlong’s Audio Arts Magazine have been acquired by Tate Archive in 2004 and are available to the public (under formal access to the Library). Audio Arts was a collection of cassettes containing interviews material, readings and conversations recorded by Barry Baker and William (Bill) Furlong, who also conducted some of the interviews. Andy Warhol, Philip Glass, Marina Abramovic, Marcel Duchamp, Gilbert & George, and Ellsworth Kelly were only some of the people who contributed to Audio Arts over the years. Between 1973 and 2006, the Magazine “developed to comprise interviews with artists and curators, commentary by artists on their works, documentation of major international art events, collaborations with artists, sound performances and other sound works” (Tate, n.d.)


Material from the Audio Arts Archive, Tate Archive © William Furlong

Bibliography: (n.d.). About Audio Arts. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018]. (n.d.). Audio Arts: all volumes. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Breakell, S. (2008). Perspectives: Negotiating the Archive — Tate Papers | Tate. [online] Tate. Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018]. (n.d.). Tate Gallery Archive | The National Archives. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

The National Archives. (2018). Tate Library and Archive achieve Archive Service Accreditation — The National Archives. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Oct. 2018].

Conceptual Art, Fluxus, Digital Art. (2010). Books LLC.

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