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This wiki space contains archival documentation of Project Bamboo, April 2008 - March 2013.

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Technology Support for Collaborative Development of a Catalogue Raisonné

Please fill in the following metadata about this narrative (and delete this line when finished!):

Collection Date: January 5, 2009
Scholar #1 Info: (if more than one scholar's process is described, copy this set for each scholar)

  • Name: Judith Pearce
  • Email:
  • Title: Technology Support for Collaborative Development of a Catalogue Raisonné
  • Institution/Organization: ANU
  • Field of Study/Creative Endeavor:

Collector Info (can be the same as "Scholar" above):

  • Name: Judith Pearce
  • Email:
  • Title:
  • Institution/Organization: ANU

Notes on Methodology:

Please briefly describe the collection methods used (eg. "self report", "questionnaire", "ethnographic interview")


The scope section is provided by the collector, with input from the scholar(s), and attempts to estimate the scope of the group that performs the processes described: How broadly do the practices described in this narrative apply to others in same field, in related fields, etc?

  1. In the opinion of the scholar, who participates in the process the story describes?
    (e.g. "just this scholar", "many people in the scholar's field of inquiry", "all academics", etc.)
  2. What is this process intended to accomplish for the scholar?
  3. Who is the intended audience of the processes described?
  4. Is this the only process the scholar uses to accomplish his/her goals?
  5. What "shared services" would help transform the story into something of more benefit for the scholar or his/her audience?  What process or processes in the story could be automated?


To provide technology support for the collaborative development of a
Catalogue Raisonné.


A Catalogue Raisonné is "a monograph giving a comprehensive catalogue of artworks by an artist". The required elements are well described in the Wikipedia article from which this definition is taken [Catalogue Raisonné (2008, December 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:03, January 5, 2009, from].

In the past the development of such a catalogue takes years of a researcher's efforts and its publication is a major effort at the end of the process. Once published, it becomes an essential tool for other researchers. As the Wikipedia entry says, "It contains most of the information a researcher will need up to the year the catalogue raisonné was printed".


The Internet provides unprecedented new ways of compiling and publishing this information as a dynamic, collaborative, ongoing process. A seed catalogue containing known information, perhaps from an already well-documented collection or exhibition catalogue can provide a model for the entries and can form the basis for gathering new works and information. One of the important characteristics of this method of research is to make the seed catalogue discoverable on the Internet. This can be a potent way of attracting potential collaborators and also of enabling non-researchers - dealers, buyers, sellers and private collectors - to discover the project and contribute information on works they own or that have passed through their hands. Some may become researchers in their own right and contribute directly to the growing catalogue. Others may provide information via more traditional methods - letters, email, telephone discussions, visits. Support for a creative commons approach might be the default for this tool. However, there would need to be a minimum level of access control for inviting contributors and approving contributions. At some stage in the process, a version of the Catalogue Raisonné might still be published in the form of a high quality printed monograph.


My particular area of research interest is ceramics, a medium where art, craft and social history merge and the Catalogue Raisonné is not yet necessarily a commonly deployed form of research output. One issue is that, while each hand-made studio pottery work is unique, it may form one of a nearly identical line. A second issue is that the provenance of ceramic works is more difficult to track than with other art works. A third issue is that there may be very little published information about the artist or pottery. Research in this area once the capture of oral histories is no longer an option, may depend on study of the works as found objects.

Voulkos & Co (retrieved January 5, 2009 from is the only example I've yet found of a website dedicated to the development of a formal Catalogue Raisonné for a particular ceramic artist. It has a quest section with two sections; "LOST is comprised of known works by Peter Voulkos for which the whereabouts are unknown and FOUND features pieces for which the disposition is currently known along with information about them." (The fact that so much of Voulkos' output is known is indicative of his status as an artist.) The data model includes many of the elements described in the Wikipedia article and may well be supported by an underlying database. The website invites the contribution of information about lost works but does not invite direct collaborative contribution to the catalogue. (There may be support for collaborative development of the catalogue behind the scenes.)

Remued (retrieved January 5, 2009 from is an example of a website that is building a catalogue for a line of art pottery. The aim is not to identify the location of known works but to provide a register of shapes and shape numbers. The researcher is an independent scholar drawing his information from the world of auction catalogues and online auctions; and tapping into the collective knowledge of private collectors. Like Voulkos & Co it invites contributions but does not support direct collaborative contribution to the catalogue. In fact, the technology is relatively primitive - hand-constructed html pages.

As well as providing support for funded research, at grass-roots level, there is a need for a simple open source cataloguing tool that could be deployed as part of a social networking website for use as a way of gathering the collective intelligence of enthusiasts not necessarily having any formal qualification as researchers. Oddly enough, blogging tools have some of the capabilities needed. My third example is a demonstrator I mocked up recently for a tiny community of collectors interested in the work of Gundars Lusis (Gunda: Australian Studio Pottery by Gundars Lusis, retrieved January 5, 2009 from However, this example has had to work against the blogging meme to achieve the required navigation capabilities and has no underlying support for structured metadata, the generation of thumbnail pages or linking to related information.

Sections below have not been completed


Please provide some keywords that will allow us to group or cluster related stories--or aspects of stories.

1. Was this story collected for a particular Bamboo working group?  If so, please include, as keywords, the appropriate group(s).

  • Education
  • Institutional Support
  • Scholarly Networking
  • Shared Services
  • Scholarly Narratives
  • Tools and Content Partners

2. Suggested keywords: Does this narrative contain elements that could be mapped to these keywords?  If so, please indicate which ones and briefly describe the mapping.  Add any additional keywords in #3. (These are global keywords from this page keywords)

3. Please list additional keywords here:


Please include the text, documents, media, or other material which comprise this narrative

Other Comments:



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