Archisle : The Jersey Contemporary Photography Programme, hosted by the Société Jersiaise (Jersey Society) in the British Channel Island of Jersey aims to promote contemporary photography through an ongoing programme of exhibitions, education and commissions. The Archisle project connects photographic archives, contemporary practice and experiences of island cultures and geographies through the development of a forum for creative discourse between Jersey and international practitioners.

    Since its inception in 2011 the Archisle project has developed a series of open call exhibitions, created an international residency programme for photographic artists and produced occasional commissions for the Archisle contemporary photography collection. Archisle is committed to supporting independent photo-media practice by creating professional development opportunities for artists and to demonstrating the social benefits of funding for the arts. Through collaborative approaches Archisle seeks to connect photographic artists with writers, curators and archivists. We work with Jersey and international practitioners to develop and resource thematic projects.

    Conceived and hosted within a nineteenth and early twentieth century photographic archive, Archisle seeks to engage current practitioners with archival research as source material. Through interrogating the content, themes, narratives and histories of institutional, public and private archives from the viewpoint of contemporary practice, artists have a critical role to play in shaping our understanding of their meanings and uses. By extension, through the process of research artists can come to consider and question the condition of their own archives and the ideas, subjects and treatments manifest within them. Collaborative work between the archive and the artist acts both as a method for defining coherent practice and produces a dialogue that informs and highlights the importance of contemporary collecting.

    The Archisle Project draws upon the extensive Société Jersiaise Photographic Archive of Jersey and Channel Islands images dating from the 1840s to the present. The island of Jersey is host to the world’s most significant photographic archive of the French Surrealist Artist Claude Cahun. Archisle welcomes project proposals from individual artists and collaborations with institutional partners.

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    A note about islandness

    ‘Certain natural environments have figured prominently in humanity’s dreams of the ideal world: they are the forest, the seashore, the valley and the Island.’ [1] Islands, both real and fictional, have inspired artists and writers since antiquity. But islands can be sites of paradox: prison or paradise, exiled to or exiled from. [2]

    The physical and cultural borders of islands define and challenge the lifestyles of their inhabitants and shape insular and external perceptions about them. Small islands have limited natural resources and their economies can be based on a limited range of activities. [3] Island artists may find inspiration in their distinctive settings but must respond to challenges of isolation and remoteness from artistic movements and trends breaking in ‘mainland’ urban centres.

    Islands support unique and fragile ecosystems which are vulnerable to environmental stress and invasive species. Today, Island Studies [4] is an active field of research seeking to define the nature of islandness, ‘…a complex expression of identity that attaches to places smaller than continents and surrounded entirely by water.’ [5] The medium of photography provides a useful tool for interrogating this concept.


    1 Tuan, Y-F, Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes and Values, 2nd edition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990); quoted by Baldacchino, G, ‘Editorial: Islands, Island Studies, Island Studies Journal’, in Island Studies Journal vol.1 no.1, 2006, p. 11.
    2 See Hay, P, ‘The Islanders Speak, and Others Hear…’, in Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, summer 2003, pp. 204-205; Baldacchino, G, 2006, p. 5.
    3 Festa, M, et al, ‘‘Islandness’ as a Resource (Amenity): a look at how being small and isolated has found a place in a globalizing world’, Proceedings of the 6th International Congress on Coastal & Marine Tourism 2009, Accessed February 24th 2011.
    4 For background on Island Studies see online resources at:; ; and Accessed March 9th 2011.
    5 Stratford, E, ‘Islandness and Struggles Over Development: A Tasmanian Case Study’, in Political Geography 27, 2008, p. 160.