Your paintings Uncovering the nation's art collection In association with The Public Catalogue Foundation

Archives for June 2011

Hidden Paintings

Dan Gluckman - Product Lead | 14:53 UK time, Monday, 27 June 2011

Last night a fascinating set of programmes was broadcast on BBC1. ‘Hidden Paintings’ highlighted exactly that – the stories of paintings that are in the nation’s art collection, but that for a wide variety of reasons are not on public display. Some of these paintings are already on the Your Paintings site, and others will be added in the coming months.

Highlights include Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen tracking down a painting by a Wiltshire artist that once hung in 10 Downing Street, forgery experts scrutinising paintings by legendary Cornish mariner-turned-artist Alfred Wallis to find out if they are fake or worth a fortune, and Dan Snow discovering some paintings hidden in the middle of Sherwood Forest, that shed light on the role of the aristocracy in the First World War.


Hidden Paintings branding



The full list of programmes is:

Some of you may notice that these stories are only about paintings in galleries and collections in England.  Your Paintings is absolutely a UK wide project, and over the coming months paintings from across the UK will be added. However, in the initial launch, the majority of the paintings on the site are in galleries and collections in England, and so these first set of programmes cover those galleries and  collections. This reflects the practicalities of cataloguing being carried out by our partners, the Public Catalogue Foundation. We hope that in the future, once more paintings are on the site, there will be programmes from across the UK about the collection.

Share your discoveries

BBC Emily BBC Emily | 13:25 UK time, Friday, 24 June 2011

We want to hear about the paintings that mean something to you
We’ve been thrilled by the wonderfully positive response we’ve had to the launch of Your Paintings  - and it’s been a particular joy to see how people have already started sharing some of the pictures that mean something to them personally.
We’ve posted a few of our favourite examples from Twitter below, but we would love to hear more about the discoveries you’re making on the site.
If you want to join in, you can either add a comment and link below, or just post it on Twitter using the hash tag #yourpaintings.
Some of our favourite stories so far
“I used to play in this castle #SandsfootCastle as a child. By then there were railings to sneak through. ~500 years old.” - Tweeted by PinballGraham

Sandsfoot Castle, Dorset by John Everett

Sandsfoot Castle, Dorset by John Everett, 1924

“ one of my gandpa's paintings up on a BBC site :D” Tweeted by SDLRob

Chelmsford Shoppers by Charles Middleton, c.1980

Chelmsford Shoppers by Charles Middleton, c.1980

”Sold a painting at my degree show 23 years ago, and up it pops on the BBC Your Paintings website.”  Tweeted by jameshobbsart

An Island near the Shore by James Hobbs

An Island near the Shore by James Hobbs

"Lovely old #Margate painting on the bbc site: Garner's (The Marine Library), High Street, Margate, Kent -" - Tweeted by ‘HarbourMonkey’.

Garner's (The Marine Library), High Street, Margate, Kent by British (English) School, c.1820

Garner's (The Marine Library), High Street, Margate, Kent

And finally… a talking cat: "BBC - Your Paintings - The Talking Cat -" Tweeted by @stevejbyrne. This painting certainly shows the diversity of the national collection!

The Talking Cat by Dez Quarréll, 1998

So what other paintings have you spotted?

Your Paintings launches with 63,000 paintings

BBC Emily BBC Emily | 11:00 UK time, Thursday, 23 June 2011

Today we are delighted to be announcing the launch of the public beta of Your Paintings, a groundbreaking new web initiative that aims to put the nation’s complete oil painting collection online for the first time.


So what is Your Paintings all about?

The UK holds in its galleries & civic buildings one of the largest collections of oil paintings in the world, a treasure trove of tens of thousands of individual works, including pieces by some of the world’s leading artists, from world famous names such as Picasso to Rubens to unknown local painters. 

These paintings aren’t just of interest to art lovers, they also make up one of the biggest pre-photographic records of 600 years of British society, life and culture, a hugely important educational and historical resource.

And yet the public’s access to this incredible resource has to date been limited by physical constraints: some 80% of the works are in storage, or otherwise unavailable to view; those that can be seen are scattered around the country, looked after by a diverse range of institutions, from the major national galleries right through to individual council offices and even fire stations, with no way for the public to see the scale of the combined collection. The vast majority have never been published online before.

Now the Public Catalogue Foundation (a charity established to document and photograph this national collection) have teamed up with the BBC and thousands of galleries and collections right across the UK to make the entire national oil painting collection permanently viewable in one place for the first time, for free to the general public.

Our beta launch today showcases the first 63,000 of these paintings, covering works from over 800 collections by over 15,000 individual artists. This is the start of a rolling programme of releases – we’ll be updating the site with thousands of new paintings in the coming months, in line with the PCF’s photography and digitisation programme, with the ambition of having the entire national collection – some 200,000 paintings - online by the end of 2012.

We really hope you enjoy using the site, and we'd love you to contact us with any comments, suggestions or improvements.

Help us tag the nation's paintings

Dan Gluckman - Product Lead | 22:25 UK time, Wednesday, 22 June 2011

To coincide with the launch of Your Paintings, our partners at the Public Catalogue Foundation are launching Your Paintings Tagger, giving you the opportunity to help map what's in the national painting collection.

Currently we have only basic information about each painting on the site such as title, artist, and execution date. What we don't have is any information about the type of painting, the subjects portrayed in the paintings and the styles and movements represented. Tagging each painting will provide this information, enabling Your Paintings to be searched by users in a much more sophisticated and easily accessible manner.

By looking at the paintings in detail, 'taggers’ will be able to help generate useful subject classifications for each work and supply important keyword information such as the people, places and events shown in the painting. Each painting will be tagged a number of times and algorithms behind the scenes will calculate which tags are likely to be the most accurate. The tags will then be fed through to the Your Paintings website.

The algorithms that power Tagger have been created by the Citizen Science Alliance, based at the Astrophysics Department at the University of Oxford. They were the team behind the hugely successful Galaxy Zoo website.

If you'd like to get involved - just click here to start tagging!

More information:

- Watch a video demonstration of Tagger with artist Alison Watt
- Find out more information about tagger

Your Paintings - launching soon

BBC Emily BBC Emily | 10:24 UK time, Monday, 20 June 2011

Your Paintings, the site which aims to show all oil paintings held in publicly funded institutions in the UK, is launching soon. Watch this space...

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