Following on from the last post on creative writing workshops, Sarah Johansson gives her take on how the Leeds Russian Archive has inspired her.
"I am currently finishing a master's degree in postcolonial literature and my introduction to Special Collections came through a creative-writing module. It was during one session on research methods, led by Special Collections archivist Sarah Prescott, that I came across Leonid Andreyev's autochromes. Sarah showed us items from some of the most prominent collections and I was immediately intrigued when I saw a photograph of Andreyev's son.
"Andreyev was a famous writer in Russia before the Revolution: the Leeds Russian Archive holds over 300 of Andreyev's colour photographs, taken around the years 1910 to 1919. Many of these are beautiful explorations of light and perspective, and they provide an intimate documentation of Andreyev and his family. Not only are the photographs intriguing in themselves, but the conflict between their immediate quality and their (relatively) old age makes them all the more interesting.
"I have been to Special Collections several times to look at the original glass plates and the staff have been immensely helpful. Seeing and touching the originals is truly inspiring and I have turned my research on this area into a creative activity by writing a collection of prose pieces which respond to Andreyev's photographs. With the intent to mirror the visual medium, they are all concise and self-contained, aiming to capture a specific moment in time. In essence, they are 'verbal snapshots' which creatively reimagine Andreyev's autochromes."