Thanks to the generous support of the ARTES-CEEH Travel Scholarship, I was able to carry out archival research at the Archivo General de Indias (AGI) in Seville, Spain, during the month of August, 2021. I was searching for lists of illustrated books and images that were sent to America before 1615, when Guaman Poma’s illustrated Nueva Corónica would have been completed. Before arriving at AGI, I got in touch with Prof. Pedro J. Rueda Ramírez, who knows the documents I wanted to read backwards and forwards, so my task in relation to my doctoral research was pretty straightforward. Now come the fascinating hours of systematizing the information I gathered. I also took advantage of being in Seville to visit the Biblioteca Americanista and read Spanish-language publications regarding the book trade in America that are difficult to find in the UK. One day, I visited nearby Cordoba and walked the streets that Inca Garcilaso de la Vega would have walked on that side of the Atlantic. I’m including a photo from that day, as I escaped the heat in a forest of columns!
In addition to successfully completing the research I set out to do, the ARTES-CEEH Travel Scholarship made possible two other deeply enriching moments during my month at AGI. First, due to covid restrictions, only a reduced number of researchers were allotted desks in the archive. In order to secure a spot for the day, we had to place our names on a list as early as possible and then wait an hour or so for the archive doors to open. This meant that, during this hour each morning, researchers could get a coffee and chat about their topics. This is incredibly beneficial to, not only each of us personally, but to the field as a whole, as we can get input and feedback in a more relaxed way. Usually, getting the chance to share with researchers in a silent archive requires some effort and planning. This time, however, the space was made for us, and I’d like to thank Stephanie, Marlis, Viviana, Kate, Scott, Grant, Cody, Jesús and José for the powerful and passionate conversations we had each day. Much success to all of you and I hope we meet again.
The second special moment took place on my third day at the archive. On that day, I read a document that, from the very first line, I knew was very special. It was filled with art-historical information regarding a sixteenth century Indigenous gold and silversmith, active in both Mexico and Peru, that I had never read before. I was so sure that what I had read was special that I reached out to Prof. Tom Cummins, who agreed that it was indeed very exciting! The document provides points of entry into discussions around artistic transfer (between Mexico and Peru, as well as transatlantic), circulation and mobility, pre-guild hierarchies and structures, surveillance, authorship, Indigenous and European artistic practices and iconography, mining and materiality, imperial power and artistic tastes, and the visual cultures of colonial contact zones. I have written a note regarding the document that will hopefully be published soon in order to make it accessible to researchers. Thanks to the ARTES-CEEH Travel Scholarship, this once-known silversmith is brought back into view, generating questions around artistic practice as a result of, and in spite of, colonial invasion. Thank you so very much. Support like yours has an even more valuable role now that we are again able to travel and meet our peers face-to-face. Thank you.