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Interview with LSE Library Curator Daniel Payne about the Library's new environmental exhibition

This Earth Day, find out more about the Library's new exhibiiton “Clothing this Naked Earth”: Politics and the Planet

"In February this year we launched   “Clothing this Naked Earth”which showcases some of the stories in the collections that speak about the environment; from the Keep Britain Tidy campaign to the extraordinary series of women’s protests held at Greenham Common in the 1980s and 90s."

Can you tell me about LSE Library’s new exhibition?

As well as making our Library’s archives and special collections available to researchers in the Women’s Library Reading Room, we also do lots of engagement activities, like using our archives and collections in teaching, working with schools and community groups, and putting on exhibitions. For these exhibitions we have a fantastic Gallery next to the Library entrance.

In February this year we launched “Clothing this Naked Earth” which showcases some of the stories in the collections that speak about the environment; from the Keep Britain Tidy campaign (founded by chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes Elizabeth Brunner), to the extraordinary series of women’s protests held at Greenham Common in the 1980s and 90s.

How did the exhibition come about?

We wanted to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Green Party of England and Wales, which began life as PEOPLE in 1973. We have recently become the custodians of their archive, and after the hard work of cataloguing the collection (done by our archivist Nick White), we chose to highlight them in our exhibition to let people know about this fantastic new resource. We invited guests from the Green Party Archives Group as well as researcher Mitya Pearson (King’s College, London) to select items from their archive, which they’ve used to tell the story of the party’s origins.  

Can you tell me about some of the team’s favourite items in the exhibition?

I really love a poster featuring a very happy, hand-painted lion from the “Keep Britain Tidy” campaign. We believe it was part of a competition that the public got involved in during the 80s to design a new poster for the campaign, which still exists today. I picked out some of my favourite items in a recent post for LSE Review of Books.

The exhibition also marks LSE Library as the new home of the Green Party archives. Can you tell us more about how this happened?

In anticipation of their upcoming anniversary the Green Party of England and Wales started thinking about their history and put the word out that they were looking for help and advice to create an archive. We got in touch with them, as we already have a large archive of political ephemera and bits and pieces related to the party. We worked with them and other prominent long-standing members to put together an archive of significant material. This work is still ongoing and we will be adding further material to the collection in the coming years.

What are some of the key components of the archive?

You can read things like the party’s first manifesto “Manifesto for Survival”, election ephemera, correspondence, printed material, newsletters, conferences, and meeting minutes. You can browse through the catalogue to see what kind of things are in the Green Party collection.

We’re still on the hunt for more of the early material such as minutes of the Executive Committees and Regional Council to help fill in the gaps.

What events has the library hosted to mark the exhibition and what else do you have planned coming up?

We recently had an online launch with a panel event on alternatives to growth, which included Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. You can watch the recording on our YouTube channel.

Coming up we have a joint exhibition and roof top garden tour in partnership with LSE Sustainability, and we’re planning a workshop in May with Judy Ling Wong (founder of the Black Environment Network). Head to the Library’s “What’s On” pages to see details of all of our upcoming events.

How can I access the archive?

Our archives and special collections are open to everybody. You can view our pages on how to book an appointment in the reading room.

We’re particularly interested to hear from the LSE community if they are interested in using the Green Party or any of our other archives in teaching, so please get in touch if you would like to talk further about this.