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At the heart of English folk
Doc Rowe in the archive

Lore and the Living Archive

Bryony Bainbridge, Natalie Reid and Anna FC Smith

30 January 2019 - 14 April 2019

Lore and the Living Archive is the culmination of two years of research and development for three emerging artists who have responded to artefacts in the Doc Rowe Archive and Collection – and Doc himself as collector.

Photographer, Bryony Bainbridge; printmaker and poet, Natalie Reid and multimedia artist, Anna FC Smith, contemplate what place traditions have in contemporary society and how they influence the communities in which they originate. The artists also consider the role of the archivist and how his presence at some events has become as anticipated and revered as the tradition itself. 

The original artworks will be displayed alongside a curated selection of material from the Archive that illustrate customs from across the British Isles and complement the themes explored through the new artworks.

EFDSS Gold Badge recipient, Doc Rowe, has been documenting the traditions of the British Isles since the 1960s, amassing an enviable collection of artefacts, photography, footage and audio currently housed in Whitby. This living archive, growing year on year, charts the rise, decline and revival of many of our calendar customs.

Lore and the Living Archive opened at Touchstones in Rochdale in 2018 and has been reimagined and reworked for its Cecil Sharp House opening in January 2019.


Dancers process down the streets as a melody repeats like a mantra.

A ghoulish looking costumed horse fights with another in the centre of town.

A hedge of twigs and branches withstands the tide.


Bryony Bainbridge

Fascinated by people, Bryony Bainbridge’s photography has an earthy documentary feel enhanced through analog and medium format film. Graduating in Fine Art from Newcastle University in 2011, Bryony’s portraiture featured in the Inspirational Women of the North East project which exhibited at the Hatton Gallery and has since toured across the UK.


Natalie Reid

Natalie Reid is a visual artist, illustrator and printmaker, whose practice is influenced by and seeks to explore the human relationship with traditional customs and cultural history. Her illustration skills, often incorporating the written word, and her fascination for folksong has led her to illustrate artwork for musicians, including multi-award winning band, The Unthanks.


Anna FC Smith

Multimedia artist, Anna FC Smith, locates herself between artist, historian and anthropologist, with a longstanding interest in folk culture and bawdy communal traditions. Previous solo shows and residencies have explored the Boxing Day fancy dress custom of Wigan (2017/18), Glasgow’s relationship with tobacco (2016/17), Lancashire clog fighting (2013/16), and Harry Hill’s TV Burp as carnival (2012/13).