Last week I spent some time browsing through the new Dictionary of Australian Artists Online (DAAO). This contains almost 7,000 biographies of Australian artists. The foundation data is drawn from existing print sources but work is already under way to add new entries. Sixteen indigenous potters are represented, reflecting the research interests of the editor-in-chief, Vivien Johnson. Apart from these, Angela Valamanesh and Peter Travis are the only contemporary potters who yet have entries. Valamanesh is there mainly because of her installation work and Travis because of his work as a designer.
DAAO is still a very young service with a forward-thinking publication model. Anyone can register as a contributor and start creating entries or adding parallel entries to flesh out the historical record. I’ve been thinking about how the daunting task of building up a body of entries for Australian potters might be achieved. Unless this is done, their representation in a resource aiming to “reflect the entire landscape and history of artistic production in Australia” may lean towards potters who ‘cross over’ through sculptural or installation work or go on to work in other media.
Postscript dated 27 September 2009
Since I wrote this, a significant number of entries for contemporary Australian potters has been added to the DAAO. Glenn R Cooke is systematically adding entries for potters represented in the Queensland Art Gallery collection, and several other contributors are raising the profile of various artists working in the ceramics medium.