The National Museum of Roller Derby (NMRD) collection was founded at Glasgow Women’s Library in 2012 as Harrison’s contribution to the Library’s 20th anniversary celebrations. As a new ‘outreach’ initiative, the NMRD aims to bring a whole new, strong and revolutionary young audience to the Library, by using it as a home for the UK’s first permanent archive for the new and exciting all-female, full-contact sport of Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby.
To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Glasgow Women’s Library commissioned twenty of Scotland’s leading female contemporary artists to make new work in response to their collection. Harrison initially chose to use this invitation as an opportunity to undertake an informal residency in the library and to develop her knowledge and understanding of women’s history – specifically the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s.
Rather than produce an ‘edition’ to be sold to raise funds for the Library (which was the initial brief), Harrison thought it would be more beneficial and have greater lasting impact on everyone involved if she used her real skills as an artist – specifically those of administration, project coordination and communication – to develop an ‘outreach’ project; an experiment in audience development. The “National Museum of Roller Derby” (NMRD) attempts to bring a whole new, strong and revolutionary young audience to Glasgow Women’s Library, by using it as the home for the UK’s first official archive of the new and exciting all-female, full-contact sport of Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby (WFTDA).
Working closing alongside the Glasgow Roller Derby league (with which she is currently training), Harrison hopes to use this project to examine the essence of contemporary grassroots organisation captured in WFTDA mantra “by the skaters, for the skaters”. In the much-hyped year of 2012, she aims to test the political limits of sport by brokering a lasting partnership between Roller Girls all over the country and the important shared heritage contained within the Library’s archive, to see what might emerge. At a time when the UK’s women are being disproportionately affected by so-called ‘austerity measures‘, which may eventually risk reversing the important gains made in the 1970s, it is now, more than ever, vital that we remind ourselves of our successes in the past and work out how we can best work together in the present.
The NMRD project was officially inaugurated by Harrison on 14 June 2012 at a special event held at Glasgow Women’s Library. The ‘national launch’ was held at the “Chaos on the Clyde” Roller Derby Tournament at Glasgow’s Kelvinhall on 25 – 26 August 2012. For more information about the ideas behind the project, please listen to the talk given by Harrison – in full Roller Derby attire – at the Library on 22 March 2012.