Creative Matters

Strong Room: Material Memories and the Digital Record


  • Jane Wildgoose Centre for Life-Writing Research, King's College London
  • Roelof Bakker Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin Univeristy, Cambridge



memory, materiality, archives, remains


Strong Room, by the artist and researcher Jane Wildgoose and the artist Roelof Bakker, was published in 2014 by Negative Press London, a small press established by Bakker with the aim of initiatiing collaborations in print between artists and writers. Strong Room mixes photographs showing traces of preserved past human activity with writing, which highlights the loss of tangible experience and lack of physical presence in the digital world. Reflecting on the aesthetics of abandoned workspaces and the historical and academic importance of paper-based archives, Bakker and Wildgoose explore the potential for perceptions of materialiy to prompt the imagination and evoke memories. In this article, the artists reflect on a range of subjective responses to archives and archival materials and discuss the background to their collaborative approach to developing the book: presenting a selection of Bakker's photographs together with extracts from the accompanying essays in Strong Room.

Author Biographies

Jane Wildgoose, Centre for Life-Writing Research, King's College London

Jane Wildgoose was awarded her Ph.D. at Kingston University London in 2015. She is an artist and researcher and Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King’s College London. Her practice centres on collecting, memory and remembrance. She works to commission with museums and has exhibited at Waddesdon Manor (Rothschild Collections/National Trust) and Sir John Soane’s Museum in the UK and Yale Center for British Art in the USA. Recent publications include “Ways of Making with Human Hair and Knowing How to ‘Listen’ to the Dead” (West 86th, 23.1, 2016); “Collecting Human Skulls and Hair: In Pursuit of Wonder in Death’s Chambers,” in Wonder in Contemporary Artistic Practice, Christian Mieves and Irene Brown, ed. (Routledge, 2017).

Roelof Bakker, Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin Univeristy, Cambridge

Roelof Bakker is a photographer and publisher of Negative Press London. His work addresses the ever-increasing speed and momentum of contemporary life and the often tragic disposability of memory and the material. Negative Press publications include How Many Hopes Lie Buried Here Mother (2016), Strong Room (2014) with artist/writer Jane Wildgoose and Still (2012): a collaboration with twenty-six writers, runner-up Best Mixed Anthology at the 2013 Saboteur Awards. He is currently studying for a Masters in Photography at Cambridge School of Art/Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.





Creative Matters