And the Keyword is…..
A behind the scenes look at Artbank’s keyword project for 2020.
Imogen Dixon-Smith: Curator Artbank
It is an unprecedented time for arts organisations, with galleries closed and events postponed across the country. Artbank staff have moved their offices into the home and with no artworks to move around except for those on our own walls, we have taken the opportunity to focus on some projects that had been on hold during busier times.
Curatorial and Registration have commenced the enormous task of updating keywords for our collection of over 10,000 artworks. With the launch of our new website, the timing couldn’t be more ideal. Ensuring each artwork in collection has relevant keywords attached to its record in our Collection Management System will greatly enhance the discoverability of the Artbank Collection when searching for works online.
We have prioritised the most popular sections of our collection, including photography and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art to ensure the impact of the project will be realised as soon as possible. We closely assess the subject and attributes of each artwork and use a standardised thesaurus to select keywords relevant to the artwork. These keywords will provide more ways of searching and filtering through the collection.
Refining the available terms to use as keywords has been a significant part of this project. The team has been faced with the complexity of categorising and defining certain styles and movements within contemporary Australian art. Our training as curators, artists and art historians has, on occasion, made us agonise over the use of simplified terms to describe artworks with expanded, innovative and experimental approaches to art making. However, we have greatly enjoyed the challenging discussion these issues have provoked to ensure our approach to keywords encompasses the multifaceted nature of our collection and allows for both general and specific ways of filtering and engaging with the collection.
Once the project is complete, visitors to our website can look forward to searching the collection in a number of new ways. You will be able to find the perfect, picturesque landscape or a dynamic, abstracted painting by searching simple terms such as Landscape, Still Life or Abstract. For those clients interested in our Indigenous collection, you will be able to search for works by geographical region including Central and Western Desert, Torres Strait Islands or Arnhem Land. If there is a specific community or Art Centre you love, such Papunya Tula and their iconic acrylic paintings or the incredible barks skilfully painted by the Yirrkala masters, you will be able to find everything we have to offer.
You can also search by place name to find an artwork depicting glorious Sydney Harbour or the gritty laneways of Melbourne. If you are keen on supporting unrepresented artists, you can browse artworks purchased through our Roadshow program or, if supporting the practice of female artists is your focus, you can filter the collection by gender. Something our Art Consultants are very excited to hear is that if you are looking to fill a large wall, you can easily browse our selection of artwork series to find something fitting. The possibilities will be endless to delve into Artbank’s rich holding of Australian contemporary art.