This month, David Hevey, NDACA Project Director, on the need for the best and highest spec in the hands of the best crew, all pushing on in digital story-gathering to get the best from the artists works, and the artists image.

One of the great single-artist collections pledged to NDACA is that of the great artist Tanya Raabe, who lives in Shrewsbury.

So, to scan her works with our mobile digitising unit, known as VanNScan, we rolled in Shrewsbury, complete with five crew, Kaiser stands, Hasselblad cameras, scanners, easels, lights, rooms hired, props to set up, crews to rig, runners to find food, and the whole charabanc which is needed to create the right and best conditions to digitise artworks and ephemera on the road, capturing images at the top spec, to the highest standard, to tell our story most powerfully.

For our digitising van’n’scan road-show, we needed great crew and great kit. Great crew means those camera assistants, assistant producers, runners, volunteers and others who make the operation of digital copying our arts heritage run ultra smoothly.

And they need to operate great kit. Great kit means whatever the best in the market is, and that, to name but one piece of kit, means Hasselblad cameras. Treated like religious icons by photographers, these are the fantastic boxy cameras made famous by the Apollo space mission photographs. These Hasselblads are NDACA’s main weapon and are doing a vital job in copying the pledges, with our digital files off those cameras captured to the finest detail, with the best resolution, which helps make our digital files both the best, and future proof. And, sometimes, simply beautiful.

Why does this crew and kit precision, bordering on obsession, really matter? Because a beautifully lit, superbly-resolved digital-image gets the viewer close to the original feelings of the painting – its texture, its brushstrokes, its details in colour, and more. Good crew with good kit – get that.

And, in the set which has been created to capture Tanya Raabe’s works – the lights, the scanners, the copy stand, the easels, the back-clothes and drapes - into that we wanted the artist also portrayed: all our artists and partner representatives will be on set for portraits, photographed in situ & with their pledges, captured as we travel around. This, too, adds texture to our gathering and gives layers to our digital files and stories they tell.

So, into this Shrewsbury set up to digitally gather & copy her works, stepped Tanya Raabe, posing infront of her own nude self-portrait: the portrait smiling and naked, the artist a touch serious (asked to be so by me, the Project Director and photographer (along with Sarah Dormer). This juxtaposition of smiling nude painting/serious clothed artist makes an interesting portrait for us, the artist and their work in juxtaposition, which in turn becomes a new deposit to the collection: copies of her works, and portraits of her, both in our collection for posterity.

And capturing such moments is inspiring, and inspires us all in the crew to push on, do better, tweak the capture devices, get their best performance, and so on.     The charabanc of NDACA’s VanNScan rolls around, with various staging posts on our journey, but with the central purpose – to capture the best art, in the best way, for the best story. And it didn’t hurt that the crew shot got retweeted by Ed Vaizey, MP, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, given how much NDACA is about culture and digital.

So, onto the next location for the #NDACA van and scan road show…

Artist Tanya Raabe in-front of her nude self-portait.Image shows Tanya Raabe, artist, infront of her nude self-portrait.

The NDACA VanNScan crew group photo.The NDACA VanNScan crew image, with apologies to Sarah D, behind camera; the images’ Twitter tag was: ‘The new epic #NDACA crew and @tanyaraabe preserving the heritage of #disabilityarts’.

Screenshot of Ed Vaizey retweeting the NDACA crew photo.
Image above shows Ed Vaizey MP, Ministor for Culture and the Digital Economy, retweeting our epic crew and cast shot.


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