Linked projects

Evolving Hands (March 2022 – Present) 

The Evolving Hands project is an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded collaboration between Newcastle University and Bucknell University which explores the use of Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) to convert materials from cultural heritage institutions, improving workflows for conversion of these texts to TEI XML following the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative.  

Enhancing texts using TEI XML will allow for a nuanced and democratic experience of cultural heritage material, providing users with insight into terms, subjects, people, places, and their spellings within the digitised collections.   

The project includes three case studies which demonstrate how digital tools can be incorporated into curation. One of these studies uses a selection of handwritten letters from the Gertrude Bell Archive, covering the summer of 1921 - a crucial period in the formation of the state of Iraq. Upon completion, the case study will result in a TEI-enhanced iteration of a selection of Bell’s letters which will be made available on this website.

Home Colours (2021-2022) 

Home Colours was a project carried out by local artist Dr Kate Sweeney with the aim of colourising images from the Gertrude Bell Archive using organic materials found at the location depicted in the image. The project, which began in November 2021, culminated in May 2022 with the creation of a colourised composite image of Gertrude Bell’s childhood home, Red Barns, as well as two original paintings of the building by Kate. These were completed using ink made from organic materials found at the location in Redcar.  

Whilst producing these unique artistic works, the project also inspired thoughtful discussion and deeper consideration of the nature and scope of archives, highlighting their multifaceted nature and the artistic responses that can be brought to it.  

Dr Sweeney presented on the project and her work at the first Gertrude Bell Lunchtime Seminar held in May 2022 at Newcastle University’s Philip Robinson Library. 

Find more information on Dr Kate Sweeney and her work.

Gertrude Bell Comics (2015) 

The Gertrude Bell Comics project, supported by Newcastle University’s Institute for Creative Arts Practice, aimed to use digital comics as an entry point to original archive materials. The seven comics created during the project by cartoonist John Miers present snapshots of Gertrude Bell’s life and work. Each comic contains a circulate hotspot, linking to photographs, letters and other related material held within the Gertrude Bell Archive and other key sources. The comics were designed as a starting point for readers to explore the Archive and to provide contextualisation for those without subject-specific knowledge on Bell or related topics. The Newcastle Young Archaeologists’ Club was also involved in refining the comics and developing the second phase of the project.