Conservation in Australia, Past Present and Future: Preprints from the AICCM National Conference, 19 – 21 October 2011 Canberra


The objective of the research is to develop and implement a methodology for collecting, preserving and making accessible the tangible and intangible heritage elements of the history and works of a unique Canberra artistic endeavor, Splinters Theatre of Spectacle. The company’s meteoric rise through the early 1990’s and dispersal by 1998 deserves to be documented and shared with the community that nurtured it, and made available for overdue critical analysis. Splinter’s works and methods have long been acknowledge as significant, but the dispersal of the key players and of the company’s records and artefacts meant few records of the company had entered collecting institutions. As a first step, an archive has been created at the ACT Heritage Library.

The unique features of the company present many challenges for the archivist, conservator and curator: that over a thousand people performed with the company; the many unique theatrical props and art works of note; and crucially, the presence of a number of photographers and video and sound artists in the company. There are interesting technical problems to be explored, such as the location of and access to the resulting collection(s) possibly split amongst several institutions due to the range of media, as well as questions of intellectual property deriving from a collective. Finally, theatre – particularly experimental work – is the poor relations of arts heritage collection and serious questions remain about what is required to property represent it.

The paper will discuss these issues and outline an innovative approach to bringing the material together and presenting it for the Centenary of Canberra program in 2013.


2011 AICCM National Conference, Canberra
Paper author:
Gavin Findlay