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Explore the Leeds Animation Workshop archive!

A new collection of feminist, grassroots material joins our Special Collections.

The Leeds Animation Workshop (LAW) archive is an impressive collection of over 3,900 pieces of animation artwork, documents, print and film, telling the story and achievements of  LAW as well as the films it produces.

LAW is a pioneering institution … holding the archive here strengthens our feminist and campaigning collections considerably.

Tim Procter, Collections & Access Manager

Donated to Special Collections in 2021, the two-year cataloguing project was funded by the Wellcome Trust, with the support of Terry Wragg, a founding member of LAW. It can be viewed via the Libraries’ Primo and Special Collections catalogues.

Tim Procter, Collections & Access Manager in Special Collections, highlights the value of such a collection of incredible items to researchers at Leeds: “We’re really proud to be able to safeguard the heritage of LAW at the University.

“LAW is a pioneering institution that is studied internationally, and holding the archive here strengthens our feminist and campaigning collections considerably. We’re already seeing researchers and tutors making use of it. We’re looking forward to seeing all the research that will come out of the archive.”

LAW was founded in the late 1970s when a group of women came together to make a film about the need for pre-school childcare. Since then, the workshop has developed animated films addressing a wide range of social issues including racism, sexism, homophobia and global environmental issues.

It was a joy to work on material showcasing the beauty and hard work behind animated films,

Olivia Weekes, project archivist.

“The archive contains excellent examples of various animation techniques, from hand-painted cel animation to articulated paper puppets. Beyond the colourful artworks, the archive also holds fascinating files on research, funding, and distribution of these films.”

A special exhibition is in the works for 2025 to celebrate the acquisitions of the Leeds Animation Workshop archive along with the recently catalogued Women’s Aid Federation of England archive. The exhibition will be an opportunity to explore these collections and to hear stories of feminist history and activism over the last fifty years.

For all those interested in animation, creative communication of social issues and feminism from the late 1970s onwards, this is an archive to celebrate and enjoy.