T he Role of the c urator

The curator operated not only as a contributing artist, but also as Web designer, Web content edi tor, project manager, site administrator, technical support, computer graphic artist, tutor, and not least, diary secretary. The curator also provided and supported the design brief, through providing detailed pages focusing on the stained-glass design process. Those artists who accessed and followed this advice made the most appropriate designs in a medieval style, and commented on its being valuable to them. However, the stained-glass artists did not use the Web site help as much as the inexperienced artists as due to having prior expert knowledge. Consequently some of their designs conformed more to their individual style than the Rose windows medieval glass brief.

Although not all participants attended the artists' meetings, they all had direct contact with the curator; in one to one chats and/or private phone calls as well as in workshop meetings. Forty-three administrative e-mails were sent out and the curator replied to 292 personal e-mails from participants. There were 11 phone calls over technical or design support. The Curator also made use of the comments facility in the albums to directly comment on participants designs. These comments were also e-mailed to the participants for discussion at the next meeting. The artists became dependent on the curator for reminders about meetings, although this did not necessarily mean that the contacted artists attended the meeting.

Whilst it was assumed that the workshops would not need the curator present, in reality, the Curator's presence was essential for continuity when not all the participants were able to meet as scheduled. If present in the design workshops, the Curator's role was to ensure that the artists' experience is constructive and some decisions were made. Artists tended to direct questions at the Curator if present in the discussion rather than expect input from each other; this often made the conversations rather one-sided. The curator exhibited concern that if she was present in a workshop, she often operated as a Web-site repository providing information that was available in the virtual space:

If I ma [sic] there then I find that I do all the talking and no one is reading all thenotes [sic] I already put on the main site to help (delia 5947 Jun 17, 2006 10:05:39 Rose Room)

I see what you mean. I think that people are inherently lazy (CL 5948 Jun 17, 2006 10:06:21Rose Room)

There was more personal responsibility taken for decisions, advice, and moderation when groups met without the curator. The guidance provided in the chats was mostly giving advice to technical questions and suggesting improvements to the designs with due respect of the views, opinions, and work of others. The focus was to encourage rather than criticise. Ultimately, the curator's involvement was more of a teacher/mentor than an independent curator.

The role of the Curator was various and extremely time consuming. Administratively, it required reminders and regular contact in order to get people online together, and extra time to be available to advise individual participants personally. There was also a great deal of Photoshop work for the curator to do in order to make the images more glass like and compensate for the lack of IT skills in most of the participants.

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