By Elizabeth Heritage

As a member of the New Zealand book trade, as well as being the Communications Lead at Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand, I’m always on the look-out for stories of Kiwis licensing their books under Creative Commons. Recently I caught up with Ann Calhoun, whose ebook Arts & Crafts Design: “like yet not like” nature: sources for a New Zealand story is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) 4.0 New Zealand licence.

Ann Calhoun is an art historian and researcher. Initially working in the patent world, she retrained as an art historian, then worked at the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council, the National Art Gallery, the City Gallery (Wellington) and did contract work for Te Papa. She published The Arts & Crafts movement in New Zealand (AUP 2000) and curated Simplicity & Splendour for the Christchurch Art Gallery (2004-5). She has written extensively about women’s history and arts and crafts.

The blurb to her book states: “Over decades of privileged study of the Arts & Crafts in New Zealand, I became aware of a body of beautiful designs on paper. Almost all were by women, almost all had never been realised on fabric or wallpaper or on any other media or end product, and most had never been exhibited or published. The purpose of the present study is to right this wrong.”

Ebook cover: Arts and Crafts Design by Ann Calhoun

Ebook cover: Reverend Doris Tutill, Wisteria design suitable for embroidery, 1933, watercolour; Macmillan Brown Library, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (photo: Karl Valpy, Christchurch). Licensed CC BY-NC-ND

Ann’s book is available as an ebook only. She says: “The ebook is 350 pages and over 300 images. Publication costs for a regular book would have been prohibitive for a decent print run. I wanted New Zealanders to recognise that their cultural history included an Arts & Crafts movement. In today’s visual culture an illustrated book has understandably more attractions than text alone.”

Ann chose to make her ebook available for free download under a CC BY-NC-ND licence so as many people as possible could read it. She says: “Licensing my book under Creative Commons was a ‘no-brainer’. I come from a background in patents and art history, and questions of copyright have always been of interest. CC means that younger and older audiences – anyone interested in design or the Arts & Crafts or almost anything! – can have easy access to the CC ebook. In every way, CC was an exciting option.”

James Johnstone table lamp

James Johnstone (head of Design and Crafts at the Canterbury College School of Art from 1926 to 1958), “Table Lamp”, oxidised silver on copper, c1932; Private collection (photo: J. Thomson, Christchurch). Licensed CC BY-NC-ND

Being able to publish such a highly illustrated book depended on Ann’s ability to access and reuse GLAM collections around the country. She says: “Using CC, I was aware of the generosity of so many people, in particular professional and amateur photographers. Researchers always depend on those they interview and I was always thrilled to visit. Libraries and public art collections were exceptional – the Alexander Turnbull Library supplied a significant number of images. Staff everywhere were wonderful and interested in the use of CC.

“And in my thanks I must include the designer Gray Hodgkinson, who with Rosemary Tonk make up DesignSpace. With such an exciting design and card flyer, I knew that readers could access the story by image and later refer to the text for a closer reading. An eminent New Zealand librarian commented on the quality of the images and pronounced himself a convert to digital books – and hopefully to Creative Commons. CC gives access where access may previously have been denied.”

Canterbury Provincial Chambers ceiling arches

Canterbury Provincial Council Chamber, old Government Buildings, Christchurch, New Zealand, the ceiling arches continued down the walls by polished porphyry columns; stone corbels, carved by stonemason and craftsman William Brassington, support the painted beams. Licensed CC BY-NC-ND

Elizabeth Heritage is the Communications Lead at Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand. She is also a freelancer in the publishing industry, with a particular interest in the ways in which the Kiwi arts and cultural sectors are changing in the face of the internet.

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