Dictionary of Australian Artists

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The Dictionary of Australian Artists (DAA) was the outcome of a project begun in the 1970s at the University of Sydney under the leadership of Bernard Smith and funded by the Australian Research Council. Its development was continued after his retirement in 1981 by Joan Kerr (1938–2004), [1] who brought a new standard of inclusivity to a work that had concentrated on mainstream figures. [2]

University of Sydney university in Sydney, Australia

The University of Sydney is an Australian public research university in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 1850, it is Australia's first university and is regarded as one of the world's leading universities. The university is known as one of Australia's 6 sandstone universities. Its campus is ranked in the top 10 of the world's most beautiful universities by the British Daily Telegraph and The Huffington Post, spreading across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington. The university comprises nine faculties and university schools, through which it offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) is one of the Australian government's two main agencies for competitively allocating research funding to academics and researchers at Australian universities. The other is the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Joan Kerr (1938-2004) was an Australian academic and cultural preservationist. Initially her interest was sparked in preserving the architectural heritage of Australia, but over time her interests spread to art history and Australian culture in general. She taught at many universities throughout the country and was involved in Historical Societies and Preservation Trusts in a variety of the territories. She wrote books on Australia's historic architecture, feminist artists, cartoonists and her major life work was producing the Dictionary of Australian Artists: Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870.



In early 2003 Joan Kerr found that it was not possible to publish her recent research on Australian Black and White artists. In addition the 1991 edition of the Dictionary was out of print, and being marketed as a rare book, but Oxford University Press were not interested in a new edition. In both cases publishers indicated that the small size of the Australian book market meant that scholarly publications of this nature were no longer a viable financial proposition. Kerr discussed her problem with Joanna Mendelssohn when she was giving a guest lecture to Mendelssohn's Australian art history students at the College of Fine Arts (COFA). Mendelssohn's writing students had begun to publish their work online in a (now defunct) blog entitled Artwrite and she was only too aware of the lack of reliable scholarly material on Australian art on the web. She suggested to Kerr that the solution was to take her research online. Mendelssohn enlisted the support of University of New South Wales (UNSW) librarian Andrew Wells and Neil Brown, the COFA Associate Dean of Research. When Kerr was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the project became a national effort by scholars in Australian art to ensure that Kerr's legacy would be in part a continuance of her scholarly research. Kerr asked for Vivien Johnson, author of scholarly works on Western Desert artists, to become editor in chief of the project. Before she died on 22 February 2004, she knew that a national partnership of universities, art galleries, and libraries was in the process of applying for funding to create the Dictionary of Australian Artists Online (DAAO). The first Australian Research Council (ARC) grant in support of the project was a partnership headed by UNSW, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, The National Gallery of Australia, the National Library of Australia, the State Library of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, and Charles Darwin University

UNSW Art & Design University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts

The University of New South Wales Faculty of Art and Design is the creative arts faculty of the University of New South Wales and is located on Oxford Street, Paddington, Sydney, Australia.

Art Gallery of New South Wales public art gallery in Sydney

The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), located in The Domain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, is the most important public gallery in Sydney and one of the largest in Australia. The Gallery's first public exhibition opened in 1874. Admission is free to the general exhibition space, which displays Australian art, European and Asian art. A dedicated Asian Gallery was opened in 2003.

National Gallery of Australia Art museum in Australian Capital Territory, Australia

The National Gallery of Australia is the national art museum of Australia as well as one of the largest art museums in Australia, holding more than 166,000 works of art. Located in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory, it was established in 1967 by the Australian government as a national public art museum.

Initially, three major books were digitised: the two works by Joan Kerr and one by Vivien Johnson listed below, plus a database of cartoonists prepared previously by Kerr and of prints by Roger Butler of the National Gallery of Australia. [2] Johnson, with the assistance of Tess Allas and Laura Fisher, also added an extensive database of Aboriginal biographies created as a part of her Storylines project. [3] The first project director was Leonie Hellmers (2005 to 2008). [4] In 2010, after a third ARC grant, the DAAO began the process of revising its website and transforming itself into Design & Art Australia Online. The current research director is Gillian Fuller, supported by managing editor Olivia Bolton and data manager Jo Croucher. Joanna Mendelssohn and Anita Calloway are joint editors in chief, and Ross Harley is the new lead chief investigator. [5]


International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

See also

Other reference works covering Australian art include:

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  1. Bruce, Dr., Candice (4 March 2004). "Sparkling mind lit up the art world". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 "Wells, Andrew The Dictionary of Australian Artists Online: an introduction (paper presented at VALA2006 conference) Retrieved 27 June 2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 October 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  3. Storylines website
  4. "History: From Dictionary to Database". Design and Art Australia website.
  5. "How We Are Organised". Design and Art Australia website.

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