In October 2014 we soft launched a major new feature onto the Tate website as part of the Archives and Access project. ‘Albums is a new tool which will let you group together art from our collection, add your own notes, and share it with others’ – as described by Emily Fildes the Digital Producer for the project at the time. We have only just begun to realise the possibilities for this new feature within the context of the project and further afield within art education, practice sharing and dialogue on the potential for digital interaction for users to the collection.

For this post we take a look at three ways in which Albums are being utilised by Learning Practitioners and Digital Producers to create spaces of new interaction between the collection and artist practice.

Albums for running workshops

Sarah Jarvis (Assistant Curator, Schools and Teachers Team) details the use of Albums to share artist’s ideas, activities and approaches to running workshops at Tate Britain and Tate Modern

When articulating what a schools workshop consists of, we often refer to its three vital constituents: the artist, the Tate collection and the young people. Every year we recruit a new team of artists who are invited to consider these components and devise workshops framed by their own practice, current interests and ideas; a proposal valued as a way of maintaining young peoples’ closeness to Tate’s art collection, whilst forging connections with contemporary art practice.

This live approach is excitingly unpredictable and, in its nature, hard to pin down, so how can we be generous in articulating what might happen for teachers who would like to know more? How can we usefully share with our audience an essence of what they might encounter in a workshop, whilst respecting and protecting the open framework that we champion.

Our first Tate Album is an exercise in exploring this. By displaying a curated collection of ‘stimuli’ from the Tate collection, examples of the workshop artist’s own work and selected documentation from their past Tate workshop sessions, our hope is that the album visually brings together the three components; artist, collection, young people. It mirrors the liveness of the programme, opening possibilities, offering up comparisons, friendships and connections that go some way to illustrate what might happen, be looked at or considered in a workshop moment, when artist and young people come together in the unique context of the Tate collection and gallery space.

Themes and digital creativity

Jen Aarvold (Tate Collectives Digital Producer) goes onto explain the use of Albums to help art students tackle GCSE, AS and A2 exam topics

A few years ago we noticed a spike in certain thematic search terms on the Tate website, such as identity, journey or ritual. We discovered this coincided with the art exam themes being released, and students were coming to the Tate site in search of inspiration. With a collection spanning 61,060 images of artworks as part of Art and Artist along with 8,118 archive items (soon to be 52,000 archive pieces in total) we thought we could offer some help narrowing down relevant artists and artworks as well as unearthing some unusual suspects.

Whereas previously these exam help resources have existed as static pages on the website, this year we used Albums to group together a selection of Tate artworks, and embedded video content from Tate’s YouTube channel. As well as being a good way of pulling together by theme selections of Tate artworks, our hope was that students would make use of the ‘copy’ functionality and then add their own artwork or relevant research so the exam resource albums become a more interactive research space they can save and use as they prepare for their art exam. We also noticed, when researching online study resources for GCSE art and design subjects, that student discussion forums were buzzing with students seeking inspiration and sharing, or bouncing their ideas off others. The sharing option that the Albums feature offers makes them an ideal resource for students who want to share their thoughts and research with others working on similar themes.

Jen further discusses how Albums can be used to celebrate and showcase young peoples’ digital creativity in response to Tate artworks.

Tate Collectives regularly invite young people to take part in digital participatory projects. These projects usually centres around Tate’s collection and invite young people to remix, reinterpret or respond to artworks through digital media.

Read more here:: Albums as a space for discourse, learning and practice sharing