Wednesday 24 November 2010 – 3

Thanks to everyone who responded so helpfully to my postings about data on Trailing through their responses, I wondered why there is so little material brought up about Toss Woollaston while there is a great deal more about other artists like Colin McCahon? It appears that not all of Toss's artwork in our public collections is being delivered yet to portal.

Thinking about it further I realised that the data accuracy issue is always connected with what is visual versus with what is textual. Visual material always seems to bring up issues related to an image that are more associational. Consequently, more haphazard. For instance, Tilly Frankl is not associated with Toss Woollaston other than he had lessons with Robert Field at Dunedin, who was the sculptor of Tilly’s head in stone.

I undertook another search on about Brian Brake (do not miss Athol McCredie's Brian Brake show!) and this brought up 3608 images, many of which are now in the care of Te Papa. Three of my favourite results from this search directed me again to some of the terrific films that Brian made for the New Zealand Film Unit. His personality and interests come through strongly in these short samples and I recommend them. You can see how Brian looks at people very clearly here:

Incidentally, thanks to Art + Object, last weekend I joined a group tour of the house that Ron Sang designed for Brian Brake in Titirangi . Ron gave a moving account of how he came to design this home, which has to be one of the finest houses in New Zealand.

I was lucky enough to visit this miracle of a home many years ago while it still retained Brian's original furnishings and art. I have never forgotten that experience.

Ron commented on how he had to include a consideration of all of Brian’s furniture in his blueprint designs.

For two of Becky Nune’s images of the house’s later interior see this posting from Home New Zealand’s blog. It is not the original furniture, but you will see why this is one great example of Ron Sang’s astounding ability to relate interior to exterior.

1 comment:

Courtney Johnston said...

Hey Ron

Thanks for your ongoing investigation of Digital New Zealand and the metadata associated with New Zealand's art collections.

It's an interesting point that there are fewer returns for Woollaston than McCahon. There are several possible reasons for this:

-- there may be fewer Woollastons held in public collections (or, more to the point, held by collecting institutions that are digitising their collections and then contributing their metadata to DigitalNZ) than there are McCahons

-- Woollaston's work may not be being digitised at the same pace as McCahon's (as you'll know, there are all sorts of reasons for why works get digitised when they do, from publication projects to exhibition projects to conservation projects to curatorial decisions)

-- if you dig into the McCahon results, you see there are more returns for research papers and books, suggesting that either (a) more is published about McCahon than Woollaston or (b) more that is published about McCahon is digitised and then contributed to Digital New Zealand.

I think it help to clarify that Digital New Zealand is not creating this content, but aggregating the digitised collections of partner organisations. Therefore, the content presented within DigitalNZ reflects decisions made by all sorts of organisations and individuals - from art historians choosing who to write about to curators deciding what to have digitised to artists deciding how prolific they will be.

Overall, the decisions collecting institutions make about what they will digitise and make available online from their collections (and how they will do this) is a fascinating topic, and thanks for giving us reason to discuss it. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say it would be amazing - unrealistic, I know, but amazing nonetheless - if collecting organisations could commit to digitising and making available online all the New Zealand artworks in their collections (and then the international ones).