MoDA's Collections Assistant Nicola Stylianou talks about unexpected discoveries while auditing the collection.
Last week I was looking for designs with a Christmas theme and I came across one that featured what I assumed were deer with holly. However, the design was listed as featuring gazelles. I was puzzled about why the animals in the design were being referred to in the records as gazelles not deer. Surely reindeer are a more traditional Christmas animal? Surprisingly, the audit had the answer.
We have been auditing the Silver Studio designs as part of our ongoing collections care work over the last year w. The audit is repetitive and time consuming. Firstly, we sort a box of designs into roughly numerical order and then we check them against our computer catalogue. We make sure that everything we have is where it should be and that nothing is missing. We also assess what other work needs to be done to make the designs more accessible online or to visitors to our study room. It is a good opportunity to get to know our objects better and sometimes it unexpectedly provides answers to questions we have about the collection.
While auditing we stumbled upon a second design that also featured the same gazelles. This time they were leaping through dainty trees rather than surrounded by holly berries and ivy leaves. I investigated a bit further and discovered that Harold C. Bareham created the design as part of a series of works which featured these repeating gazelles. Bareham worked for the Silver Studio on and off from 1903 until the Studio closed in 1963 both as an employee and as a freelance designer. The Silver Studio designers often produced a series of images reusing elements from previous efforts. It made sense for a commercial studio to ensure that every idea was exploited to its full potential. It seems that Bareham saw an easy way to alter an existing design for the festive season and created Christmas gazelles in the process!