Edwardians Online: Using expertise in Edwardian visual culture to increase interest and enhance Tate Britain’s open access online scholarly research catalogue
Submitting InstitutionNorthumbria University Newcastle
Unit of AssessmentArt and Design: History, Practice and Theory
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies
Summary of the impact
Ysanne Holt was Academic Advisor and Commissioning Editor for Tate's
Camden Town Group in Context project, funded through the Getty
Foundation's Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative which aims to
transform how museums disseminate information about their collections.
Holt undertook and commissioned new research into the Group's artworks and
their broader contexts. Impacts derived from the project's online
catalogue include increased awareness for national and international
public and specialists; and improved access to the art and its contexts
via a multi-platform open access facility. In addition, the project has
influenced the Tate's Digital Strategy and led to the creation of the new
post of Digital Editor within Tate's Research Department.
Holt (employed at Northumbria as Senior Lecturer in 2000 and from 2007 as
Reader) is an art historian and acknowledged expert in the field of late
nineteenth and early twentieth century British art and broader visual
culture. She has edited `Visual Culture in Britain' since 2001. Following
the success of their 2008 `Modern Painters' exhibition (curated by Robert
Upstone), in September 2009, Holt was contracted by Tate Britain to
provide academic leadership for the Camden Town Group (CTG) project. Her
role was to develop the scholarly content for a multi-disciplinary
investigation into the Group, its aims, history, impact and achievements.
The research Holt carried out and commissioned, and the materials
identified (early films, photographs and related archival material) to
populate the publicly accessible Tate online catalogue, provides a new
multi-platform resource for specialists and the wider public not only to
view the Group's artworks, but to contextualise it through direct access
to a range of contemporary materials and information, supported by expert
Holt organised a colloquium at Tate, comprising curators and academics
with diverse disciplinary perspectives and spent the next two years on
research. Between 2009 and 2011, Holt commissioned and edited texts from
24 academics, curators and picture conservators from the UK and USA, as
well as from local history organisations. She selected significant
historiographic texts for reprinting and contributed her own new essays.
The project's distinctiveness comes from combining digital functionality
with access to extensive contemporary materials, enabling the user to
relate CTG art to its context. To support this, five key themes were
established for the project: Modernity and Metropolis; Social Class and
Social Type; Gender and Sexuality; Performance and Popular Fiction; and
Beyond the City.
In October 2010, Holt's work was presented at two international events,
which informed the development of content for the website. First, she
delivered a paper at the `Mid-West Annual Conference on British Studies'
in Cleveland, Ohio. Second, she was invited to detail the progress of the
CTG project, at `The Scholar and the Museum' roundtable discussion at Case
Western Reserve University, Ohio, for museum and academic staff. The
co-ordinator was Anne Helmreich, now Senior Program Officer at the Getty
In May 2012, Holt (with Andrew Stephenson, University of East London)
convened the launch event at Tate Britain, entitled `Edwardian Art and its
Legacies', with 45 delegates from UK and USA, including the Yale Center
for British Art and the Getty Foundation. Selected papers from this event
were published in a guest-edited (by Stephenson) issue of `Visual Culture
Following Holt's research foci, the project focused on individual
artists' unique engagements with metropolitan modernity, revised dominant
narratives about modernism and gave new insights into the ways that
particular artworks relate to the transformation of social and cultural
life in the rapidly expanding imperial city of London.
References to the research
Holt, Y. (2005) `Eddie Marsh: a Picture-Collector's `Lust for
Possession'', Visual Culture in Britain, 6(2), pp125-137.
Available from Northumbria University on request.
Holt, Y. (2003) British Artists and the Modernist Landscape.
Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. Available from Northumbria University on
Peters Corbett, D., Holt, Y. and Russell, F. (2002) The Geographies
of Englishness: Landscape and the National Past, 1880-1940. New
Haven and London: Yale University Press. Available from Northumbria
University on request.
Holt, Y. (2000) `London Types', The London Journal: A Review of
Metropolitan Society Past and Present, 25(1), pp34-51. Available
from Northumbria University on request.
Tate received funding for two phases of project development from the
Getty Foundation in 2009 and 2011.
Details of the impact
The impacts of the research for the Camden Town Group in Context
include enhancing cultural life through increased cultural awareness of
national and international audiences (public and specialists); increased
access to, and knowledge of, the art and its context via a multi-platform,
open access facility; and opportunities for public engagement in
developing this and future online art catalogues. The research has also
impacted on Tate's Digital Strategy and led to the creation of one new
post at the organisation. Holt's underpinning research contribution chimes
with the development of new perspectives on Edwardian visual culture and
`Edwardianism' in general. It also taps into, and enhances, current public
interest in a wider appreciation of `heritage', providing scholarly
expertise to underpin both general and specialist access and
understanding. This project is part of the wider Online Scholarly
Catalogue Initiative (OSCI) collaboration between the Getty
Foundation and the J. Paul Getty Museum, bringing international prestige
and attention to this artistic group and Holt's expertise.
The Tate Camden Town Group in Context website was launched in May
2012 and in the 12 months since then it has received 93,242 page views
from 51 referral sites. This comprises 28,439 visits with an average
number of pages per visit of 3.12, showing that these are engaged rather
than accidental visits. Analysis by country demonstrates international as
well as national interest in this resource: UK - 14,387; USA - 5,437; and
France - 1,422. Qualitative comments recorded in Tate's Post-Grant
Evaluation report to Getty includes, for example, a note from an Assistant
Professor, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island: "one of the
most useful features of the site is its scholarly depth (historical
analysis, archival elements...) and readability. There are few
publications that strike this balance as effectively, and no others that
do so for the Camden Town Group and this time period... students
responded positively to open source material".
Another impact of this project, and one which is directly related to
Holt's research contribution, concerns the active public engagement with
the Camden Town Group, as a result of the deliberate accessibility of the
open access `In Context' website. Since May 2012, the Tate's curatorial
staff report communications from visitors to the website offering
additional information on the artworks or on related works by members of
the Group, along with suggestions for material that might be included in
the future. This demonstrates how the website elicited user generated
This project, underpinned by Holt's research, expertise and networks of
specialists in the field (formed in part through her editorial position in
`Visual Culture in Britain'), has directly led to other Camden Town Group
projects, as well as influencing the wider practice of online art
cataloguing. For instance, a new `Focus' gallery exhibition at Tate
Britain of `Drawings by the Camden Town Group' (November 2011 - May 2012)
provided a further opportunity for specialists and the wider public to see
these works and to raise awareness of the group and its artistic approach
in its Edwardian London context. The practice of providing a continuing
online access to the art after the physical exhibition was taken down
links all visitors to the Camden Town Group in Context webpages
bringing the contextual information and links to an international
Holt's research approach and the software underpinning it are being used
to produce a new `In Focus' series of mini-collection research projects,
which as Tate's final report on the completion of the CTG project to Getty
outlines, they intend to expand over the next three years.
In addition to its enhancement of cultural awareness, the project's
success has underscored Tate's commitment to online scholarly publishing
and resulted in the creation of a post of Digital Editor within Tate's
Research Department (2012).
The project has impacted on policy, being instrumental in shaping Tate's
Digital Strategy 2013-2015: "A new model of online publication — manifest
in the projects The
Camden Town Group in Context ... has transformed collection
research. Built as extensions of the online collection (Art and Artists)
rather than as `stand-alone' publications, the projects take advantage of
the affordances of the digital medium — rich interlinking, multimedia,
multiple voices, both linear and nonlinear journeys etc."
In July 2013 Holt contributed to Getty's new social media campaign,
`Getty Voices', an OSCI Facebook discussion focused on usage of the Tate
Camden Town website and designed to make broader US audiences more aware
of OSCI itself. Tate's Google analytics registered a marked increase in
visits to the website in mid-July as a result.
Sources to corroborate the impact
The Tate website itself: Ysanne Holt, `The Camden Town Group: Then and
Now', in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden
Town Group in Context, May 2012, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/ysanne-holt-the-camden-town-group-then-and-now-r1105679.
Accessed: 26 July 2013
Head of Collections Research, Tate Britain (CTG Project Leader). See
project acknowledgements http://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/acknowledgements-r1105681
Head of Collections can also be contacted to corroborate the impacts
Senior Program Officer, Getty Foundation, LA can be contacted to
corroborate claims. The Senior Program Officer is a peer-reviewer for the
project, commissioned contributor, speaker at the closing symposium in May
2012 and involved in developing an overview of the project's success from
Assistant Director for Research, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in
British Art, has attended the symposium and has used the website for
research purposes. Extract from letter to Tate Britain from the Assistant
Director: "The combination of scholarly research, collaborative work,
excellent images, film, audio and digitized resources is an important
and path-breaking model for any institution thinking about publishing
research on line".
Assistant Professor, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island has
provided comments concerning the quality of the site.
Review /recommendation from websites:
Public Catalogue Foundation, Painting in Focus, July 2012,
Tate's Digital Strategy 2013-2015, available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/tate-digital-strategy-2013-15-digital-dimension-everything