Trinity College Library Dublin recently hosted an event focusing on the work of the Harry Clarke Studios, one of the most famous stained glass studios in Ireland, and the ongoing digitization of this historic collection by the Library’s Digital Resources & Imaging Services Department.
If you were not able to attend you can find the speaker’s podcasts and presentations on their blog’s Media page.
The event brought together the analogue and the digital in a wonderful day of visual presentations, stimulating talks and interesting discussions. The Clarke Studios Symposium was held in the Long Room Hub and was funded by its Research Incentive Scheme, with addition funding from The Irish Art and Research Centre. The digitization of the Harry Clarke Studios Archive is a demonstrator project for the Digital Repository of Ireland project and is being undertaken by staff in the Library’s Digital Resources & Imaging Services department in conjunction with the Manuscripts and Archive Research Library.
The event, introduced by Helen Shenton, Trinity College Librarian and Archivist, was attended by over 120 people and had thirteen speakers ranging from experts in the field of history of art, to world leaders in digital humanities. The morning session focused mainly on the history of art aspect of the project (the “analogue”) and the keynote speaker was Nicola Gordon-Bowe. Nicola is the world’s leading expert in Harry Clarke and gave a wonderful presentation on the life of this amazing stained glass artist and the progression of his work; even describing how she got “stuck on a windowsill at a wedding trying to get close to a Harry Clarke window”.
The keynote speaker for the afternoon (“digital”) session was Simon Tanner from King’s College London, one of the leading experts in digital humanities and Director of Digital Consulting at the College. His paper reflected on the huge benefits and many challenges associated with digitization, and reflected on his past experiences of photographing stained glass windows.
Other papers discussed the global reach of the Clarke Studios, particularly Africa, America and New Zealand; the contribution of digital collections to humanities research; the cultural context of stained glass windows in Ireland; and also practical demonstrations from Ken and Muriel Ryan. Ken and Muriel from the Abbey Stained Glass Studio brought along a wide variety of props, examples of stained glass windows and working designs. They also displayed a sample of shattered Harry Clarke glass they gathered at St. Mel’s Cathedral in Longford, after the fire of Christmas Day 2009, which totally destroyed the Church along with the original windows.
It was fantastic to have such a variety of speakers contributing to the day and engaging with each other; connecting the analogue and digital world of research and stained glass windows.
The Symposium also engaged the online community through Facebook and Twitter. With the hashtag ‘#ClarkeStudios’, attendees were able to tweet pictures, interesting points or general comments about the day. This use of social media was a great way to document the day and encourage further engagement with the digital collection. A brilliant Storify was created and clearly shows the positive experience of speakers and attendees. The Symposium’s blog page will also be a way to continue this engagement and inspire the speakers, researchers and all interested in the Harry Clarke “Digital” and “Analogue” Archive.