Artists at Gloucestershire Archives

My name is Julia O’Connell and I am one of the artists working at Gloucestershire Archives.

My arts practice is in textiles and I am creating wall panels that celebrate and feature local archives.

Currently, I am researching the actual work that takes place within the archive offices as well as with other organisations and archives such as the Gloucestershire Constabulary, Dowty (Safran) and the Gloucestershire Family History Society. I have already made a few site visits in Gloucestershire. I have been particularly struck by the work, care and methods taken in repairing and preserving archival material by the professional team at Gloucestershire Archives. I have also enjoyed meeting the wonderful volunteers who look after the afore-mentioned organisations’ records and archives. People, memory and stories are the connecting thread in life’s journey and having a unique access to these amazing archives are where I hope to draw inspiration as I create the textile pieces for the new building.

Before Christmas, I visited a care home in Chipping Campden and spent an afternoon meeting residents.  We spent the time talking about home crafts, textile techniques, childhood memories and family – all very relevant to my research and practice.

I am absorbing as much as I can about the various records and archives so I can move onto the next stage of my creative process, i.e. developing the concept behind each work, and sampling and playing with textile materials.

Below are a few images from my early research trips to Gloucestershire Archives.

I’ve also included some sample pieces from a day spent in the workshop where I experimented with laser cutting and engraving silk fabric. I sampled F.W Harvey’s poem ‘A Song of Gloucestershire’, part of the inspiration behind the new building’s internal colour scheme as well as the Gloucestershire Family History Society’s wonderful logo which features the map of Gloucestershire and the River Severn. In my practice, I like to use both traditional and new technologies as well as vintage fabrics, notions and sewing ephemera.

I will be giving an artist’s talk in 2018 in the new Heritage Hub building about my textile work and the work in progress. It would be great to hear people’s stories of family and work life in Gloucestershire, both from the past and currently too. Look out for a date announcement soon.

In the mean-time, if you want to drop me a line about a significant event or story for my research, then please contact me via

Julia O’Connell

January 2018

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