Peoples with a computer link can now view some of the province's best art works
Radio interview by Christine Davis, CBC Radio


April 16, 1998. Copyright © 1998, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Reprinted with permission. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation can be reached on the web at www.cbc.ca/programguide/radio/

ANNE BUDGELL: Well if you have a computer and a link to the Internet, you can now view local art works without leaving your home. A website launched yesterday will carry a selection of images from the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador and this is one of the largest digital art collections in the Province. It contains more than 400 images of work by people like Christopher Pratt, Josephina Kalleo and Gerald Squires. The project was funded by Industry Canada's SchoolNet Digital Collections Program coordinated by the University's Smallwood Centre for Newfoundland Studies and the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Website. Patricia Gratton is the Director of the Art Gallery and she spoke with Christine Davis.

CHRISTINE DAVIS: Ms. Gratton, low is this different from the website that the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador already has?

PATRICIA GRATTON: Our own home page is actually more an information page about the gallery, about the upcoming events and exhibitions and that kind of an Informational reference. It has a few Images on it to sort of whet people's appetites but the images available through the Newfoundland Heritage Website or on SchoolNet really are where people can see a whole range of the Newfoundland and Labrador works in the permanent collection, That's where you go for a whole range of art works by a number of different artists.

CHRISTINE DAVIS: So what will people see if they click on, click in? Click in?

PATRICIA GRATTON: They can see the work of about thirty artists and also what we've done is worked from the theme shaped by the sea and from an actual exhibition of the permanent collection that has existed, We've taken that as sort a care direction for this program and for the artists who are in that for instance, Chris Pratt, Don Wright, Bill Ritchie. The (inaudible) you can see the works in that show but also other works by them In the permanent collection, You can also call up biographical material on the artist. So overall there are over four hundred images that will be available to this site.

CHRISTINE DAVIS: Why did you want to get involved in this at this time?

PATRICIA GRATTON: Well in a way I wish we might even have done it sooner, As much as we believe that the best way to experience a work of art is to be right there with the real work, and it's a very different experience than seeing a digitalized Image on a computer screen, the truth of the matter is many people can't get to the art gallery and we can't get our touring shows, you know, to every place in the Province or the country and so this is a wonderful way for us to get those images out there and at least give people some sense of the extraordinary richness of the, you know, the visual art in this Province.

CHRISTINE DAVIS: But do you think they do lose something though in the translation?

PATRICIA GRATTON: Well I'm a gallery person, so yes, I'm absolutely convinced. Sure. You're looking at a, most people would be looking at these on a computer screen and if, for instance, you looked, say, at Gerry Squires painting, Uprooted, you've got it the dimensions of the screen. The actual work is about five by seven feet, so the emotional experience of seeing that or the ability to see the texture and the work of the artist's hand and so on Is really an entirely different experience. This can't replace it. What I hope it'll do is whet people's interest in coming to the art gallery.

CHRISTINE DAVIS: One thing I was wondering about and that's copyright. What is to prevent someone from downloading one of these images from their own computer and perhaps using it in a way that is not just for their personal appreciation?

PATRICIA GRATTON: It would be a bad thing, of course. We've been very careful to get permission from all the artists involved, I should say, up front. In fact if people try to download the images they will find that the resolution of the image is so poor when it's printed out as to be virtually useless. Now that's certainly with today's technology. What technology produces In the future we're not certain but I'm quite convinced that if technology gets that far so will the possibility of encoding images to protect from that. So I think, and my opinion is shared by experts in the copyright field, I think that artists are still quite safe from that kind of unauthorized use.

CHRISTHER DAVIS: Now there are four hundred pictures of pieces of art work now on the website. Is it sort of going to be a changing exhibition?

PATRICIA GRATTON: The SchoolNet program is a sort of fixed entity and that's a package that we hope has some coherence. That will be available through SchoolNet to people and it is as it stands. The Newfoundland Heritage Website on the other hand can be added to down the road by us and certainly we hope to do that because it's, you know, a small portion of the collection. Our hope will be eventually to have the entire collection digitalized but I should add that the collection is not entirely by artists of this Province. There is other work as well. So (inaudible) connection the Newfoundland and Labrador works were the most appropriate for launch.

CHRISTINE DAVIS: What difference do you think this site now or this access will make for the gallery?

PATRICIA GRATTON: Well we'll be very interested and we should, in fact, try and work out a way to test whether it, in fact, directly produces increased visitation. I expect that it will. I think people will begin to realize what's available here and that it should have an impact on out visitation.

CHRISTINE DAVIS: Thank you very much.

PATRICIA GRATTON: You're very welcome.

ANNE BUDGELL: Patricia Gratton is the Director of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sidebar updated April, 2007.

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