Academic journal article The Sculpture Journal

'Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland, 1851-1951' Victoria and Albert Museum, London 25-26 February 2011

Academic journal article The Sculpture Journal

'Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland, 1851-1951' Victoria and Albert Museum, London 25-26 February 2011

Article excerpt

Introduction

Back in 2004 Ann Compton proposed a project to set up an online database of sculptors, entitled Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851 to 1951. This would complement the printed A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660-1851, then being prepared by Ingrid Roscoe and her co-authors, Emma Hardy and Greg Sullivan, which was itself an expanded and thoroughly revised version of Rupert Gunnis's Dictionary, first published in 1953. A development phase followed, supported by the Trustees of the Henry Moore Foundation, with work proper on the database commencing in 2008.

This issue of the Sculpture Journal is in part a celebration of Ann Compton's achievement in bringing her ambitious plans to fruition, as director of the project, working with Alison Yarrington as principal investigator, Marjorie Trusted as co-investigator and Matthew Barr as systems developer. The project was enabled by a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and a team of dedicated and active collaborators and researchers, not least colleagues at the University of Glasgow.1 After three years the database went live in February 2011 (http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/). An additional dimension, Mobilising Mapping, enabled through AHRC Digital Equipment and Database Enhancement for Impact (DEDEFI) funding, was originated and developed by Matthew Barr. This secondary project, with Alison Yarrington as principal investigator and Ian Anderson as co-investigator, has further enhanced the database's public accessibility by making it available on handheld devices. The project's public launch was a culminating conference held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, when a range of papers both arising out of, and inspired by, the Mapping Sculpture database were presented.

During the period of research and implementation Mapping Sculpture held the imprimatur of British Academy Research Project status. This 'kitemarking of academic excellence' is awarded to 'major infrastructural projects or research facilities intended to produce fundamental works of scholarship, in most cases for the use of a variety of disciplines, rather than to produce interpretative works or monographs'. One of the significant aspects of the Mapping Sculpture database is the way in which it communicates the changing concepts of the practice of sculpture during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It helps reveal sculptors' training, workshop practices, exhibition histories and the productive networks among sculptors and between artists and patrons. It is clear that, as published studies of studio practice have previously shown in relation to individuals or families of sculptors, practitioners were almost invariably part of a team, with assistants and collaborators. …

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