Earlier this year, with a major retrospective imminent, sculptor Richard Rome asked me to renovate and redesign his website. The existing website was built more than a decade ago. It still functioned well, but it contained a limited range of images, a less dynamic navigation than demanded by today’s web styles, and did not take advantage of the latest high-resolution desktop and mobile screens.
One challenge was to show every one of his cast and welded metal sculptures, from a long career spanning nearly sixty years, with as light a touch as possible.
Richard wanted to keep the navigation and colours clean and direct with nothing to distract from the gallery-style view of the sculpture and exhibitions. He still liked the colour-palette I had previously developed – greys, white and ink-blue for accents – so we retained this combination. With that established, I then concentrated on responsive image-scaling, a sub-navigation for the “Archive” section of the website, and very simple pagination, with a bold, white arrow, for navigation to successive sets of images. I prefer simplicity, flat colour and limited movement on a web page, so I enjoyed working with this stripped-down framework.
During his career Richard has been careful to fully document his sculpture, so there were many images to review. It took some time to edit and clarify the photograph collection until we had decided upon (usually) only one representative image for each work. Richard is a ‘master’ of bronze and iron casting, and metal manufacture. Narrowing down the images so that there is only one main image for works that have so many detailed, crafted aspects to them, was hard to do, but we got there in the end.
The final public website contains a simplified view on Richard Rome’s work, but the system which I have developed with relational database design is endlessly extendable. The possibilities for cataloguing, searches and data retrieval are retained so that a future research database could be developed. It could, in future, be used to create a library of images and related data existing separately as a museum-like archive.
Web development process
I produced a proofing version of the new website protected by a login so that casual visitors could not accidentally come across it. Richard was then able to view it online and let me know his response, critique and ideas, with a working example for reference. I worked through several iterations, starting with the basic layout and colour-scheme and working towards the entire finished site on which he was able to proof-check the texts and captions. We met in his studio several times to go through image choices and discuss the curation of each section, and communicated regularly be email.
Major retrospective and survey of Richard Rome’s sculpture
The opening of Richard Rome’s exhibition at Canary Wharf tower and the surrounding squares and avenues gave him the opportunity to review his work, and to tackle the challenge of building this online catalogue. With the finished website (www.richardrome.co.uk) I was able to bring together his sculpture into a definitive publication (albeit with a relatively few words) which represents his work exactly how he would like it to be seen and over which he has complete control. It is an interesting survey of the styles and influence of Richard Rome’s work, and more generally British sculpture, through six decades since the 1960s.
You can see images of the website, including Richard’s testimonial, on my “Clients & Testimonials” page.