Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Domestic Scene, Mary Gallagher
(East Dunbartonshire Council)
Sideboard, tea caddy, nasturtiums, Staffordshire dog, alarm clock, slippers, baby's dummy, Norah Batty stockings ...
This is the kind of painting that's most fun to tag, even if it's not a masterpiece. Although I also get great satisfaction from trying to put a date to works where that's unknown.
To be honest, I went cold turkey after my initial flirtation with tagging the nation's art collections.
It's just too big a distraction. (I really am supposed to be working when I'm sitting at my desk.)
But it kind of crept up on me again. And when I was invited to a tagger afternoon at the National Portrait Gallery, I was slightly horrified to discover that I am one of the nation's top taggers. (Nation's top procrastinators might be more like it.)
This is very, very addictive ...
And we all cheerfully admitted that we were obsessive compulsive insomniac pedants with too much time on our hands. Only 15% of taggers clock up more than 50 paintings before they give up.
The organisers seemed surprised and rather shocked that peak tagging time isn't at weekends but on Mondays and Tuesdays.
But as we seasoned time-wasters well know, those are the quietest days when you're at work. And you can always do just one more ...
However, your country's art collections need you. This is the only country in the world to have digitalised every single oil painting in public collections from national art galleries to village primary schools and even fire stations. More than 180,000 paintings remain to be catalogued; each one has to be tagged by 15 people to get a consensus and there are only 9,000 taggers, including all the drop-outs.
Of course, if you've really got time on your hands you could always try classifying galaxies.
I'm quite relieved that it doesn't appeal to me at all.
Life's just too short.

6 comments:

kristina said...

So impressed with your tagging! Feeling guilty now I'm not volunteering, as I was actually trained to do this for museum collections. Also now very worried G might take up galaxy classification!

K x

Lucille said...

Oh dear I am one of the drop outs. I have switched my procrastinating time to deleting texts on my phone.

Sue said...

Oh it looks fun but really how much more internet time-wasting do I need?

mary said...

I'm sure they'd love to have you, Kristina - but I can see why it wouldn't appeal if it used to be your job. It's my escape from mine.
Apparently, there are hundreds of thousands of people classifying galaxies ...

Now I'm wondering how many texts you get, Lucille - or maybe you don't devote enough time to procrastinating.

Sue, best not to get started ...

Toffeeapple said...

I am a Red Tagger, slowing down since I keep getting daubs rather than proper paintings so am finding it difficult. I seem to have been spending an inordinate amount of time on Still life quick heart, since you pointed that out to me...

I shan't be getting involved in galaxies, too much like hard work.

mary said...

I think they'll have a lot of abstracts left at the end, Toffeeapple because everyone's tempted to skip them. I struggle with railway paintings, too.
So glad that I'm a role model for time-wasting activities ... feel I've found my vocation in life!