This site contains detailed searchable information on the holdings of the esea contemporary Archive & Library. You can also find information on the organisation’s past programme and biographical data on the artists who have worked with esea contemporary.


What is available on this site?

Why isn't everything accessible online?

How to access materials not online?

Previous Projects

What is available on this site?

On the online catalogue you can find information about our holdings and the organisation's programme activities since 1986. The information is arranged into the following categories:

  • Collections: Also known as Fonds, they are groups of materials gathered from a single source or creator. The materials within a collection are arranged hierarchically within Record Sets.
  • Record Sets: Hierarchical levels within a collection. These can either mirror how the original creators stored the materials, or can be a way of classifying the contents of a collection to aid research.
  • Records: Descriptions of individual items within our collections, such as a single book, document or file. The information can represent both physical objects and digital files. They contain key information about the item, including details on how it can be accessed and copyright permissions. The site holds three types of records:
    • Bibliographic records: documentation of items in our library.
    • Archival records: documentation of individual archival documents in our archive collections.
    • Record parts: descriptions of parts of archival records which require further documentation. This may be a document within an archival record or an attachment to an email.
  • Events: Descriptions of events linked to the history of the esea contemporary's programme. These are further split into the following categories: exhibitions; artist-in-residences; festivals and seasons; performances; other programme events; projects; non-programme events (eg. notable occasions at the which do not fit into the categories above); and other events (events arranged by external bodies but associated with the Centre, eg. biennials and other festivals).
  • People and Organisations: Also referred to as agents, these contain information on people, groups and corporate bodies associated with our collections.
  • Places: geographical locations associated with our collections.
  • Subject Terms: terms used to classify our holdings.

All the data on our site is interlinked. For example if you look at the page of a particular artist, you can see all our holdings that relate to them and any events they were involved in. Our records also can provide access to digital surrogates of some our archival records, many which are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Why isn't everything accessible online?

We are working towards making as much of our holdings accessible online as we possible can, however, full access is restricted due to limitations on our resources and UK legislation. We can only make copies of our holdings online if we have the permission of the copyright holders, and we can not make any sensitive data accessible due to the requirements of the Data Protection Act (2018) and UK GDPR.

How to access materials not online

Unless closed under Data Protection legislation, our holdings are available on site for private non-commercial research. To access our on-site materials you need to book an appointment at least a week in advance to ensure a member of staff is available.

Previous Projects

Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Centre carried out a project between 2016-2018 to bring meaningful access to its historical collections. As as a result the online catalogue was established and we began to document our collections. By the end of the project we had processed our our administrative and programme records dating up to 2003; our marketing materials dating up to 2010; and documented over 500 publications from our library.

In 2021, with support from the London Metropolitan University project Multicultural Heritage at the Crossroad: Organisational Resilience, Institutional Archive and Multicultural Voices project we were able to begin to process documentation relating to our artist-in-residence programme, 2003-2010. The funding was courtesy of the Research Centre for Creative Arts, Cultures and Engagement (CREATURE) .

GB3451/OC/7/1/1/3 Photograph of Chinese New Year calligraphy workshop, 1998 Mary Tang leading a Lunar New Year calligraphy workshop, 1998. (GB3451/OC/7/1/1/3)
Chan, Suki, Lucida (2016-2017: UK) (S4.020) Suki Chan's Lucida (2016: UK) (S4.020)
GB3451/OC/M/3/2/8: OpFlyer 'Representing the People' Invite to the private view of Representing the People, Upper Campfield Market, Manchester, 1999,(GB3451/OC/M/3/2/8)
Foo Lo Bing's Photo Album - A File left by an Observer (Hong Kong, 2008) (S1.188) Foo Lo Bing's Photo Album - A File left by an Observer (Hong Kong, 2008)(S1.188)
GB3451/OC/D/1701/574/28: PAD scheme Talent Scoput card, 2007. PAD scheme Talent Scout Card, 2007, GB3451/OC/D/1701/574/28.
GB3451/OC/D/1704/29/45: Open Studio: 'TRANSplant', Pamela So, (2005), Breathe Residency, 2005 Mar 21 - Jun 20, Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester. Photography by the Chinese Arts Centre. Open Studio: 'TRANSplant', Pamela So, (2005), Breathe Residency, 2005 Mar 21 - Jun 20. GB3451/OC/D/7/1/1/3