Three decades of Palmerston North musical history preserved in digital archives

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Abi Symes and Harry Lilley unroll a 2006 Swampfest poster, one of approximately 180 posters digitally archived by Manawatū Heritage.

David Unwin / Stuff

Abi Symes and Harry Lilley unroll a 2006 Swampfest poster, one of approximately 180 posters digitally archived by Manawatū Heritage.

Over 30 years of Palmerston North music history is now available online as a local music venue’s poster collection goes digital.

The Stomach worked with Manawatū Heritage to have its overflowing collection of performance posters digitized and available online.

Stomach manager Harry Lilley said the posters date back to the early 1990s, if not as far back as The Stomach opened in 1988.

So far, 118 of the approximately 180 posters had been uploaded to the Manawatū heritage website.

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Posters line the walls of The Stomach concert hall in Palmerston North.

David Unwin / Stuff

Posters line the walls of The Stomach concert hall in Palmerston North.

There was a curatorial aspect to the project by safeguarding the archives, but there was also a desire to present the posters as part of Palmerston North’s musical history.

“The Poster Archive is our story, it’s our community,” Lilley said.

The collection was not just posters of shows played at The Stomach, but of shows played at other venues in Palmerston North such as Harvesters and Snails.

Lilley said the music community can often be subdued in small venues and having a poster in the street boosts their presence.

“It’s a way of having a space in the city when we’re usually confined to the hall or rehearsal room or possibly seen as a nuisance when we’re really creating art, we’re telling stories. “

The evolution of technology could be seen in the posters over the years.

Earlier posters were often made using collages or were drawn by hand, but digitally created posters had become much more important.

The posters were also representative of the music created at the time.

“They’re a tool to get people to come to the show, but often they capture something about the essence of the art that was being created at the time.”

So far, 118 of the approximately 180 posters have been uploaded to the Manawatū Heritage website.

David Unwin / Stuff

So far, 118 of the approximately 180 posters have been uploaded to the Manawatū Heritage website.

Jaime Ridge, heritage processing and digitization manager at Manawatū Heritage, said the posters were sent to New Zealand Micrographic Services to be digitized on a high-resolution scanner.

A4 and A3 scans could be taken from the library, but larger things had to be sent out and scanned by professionals.

The most time-consuming part was entering the description and collecting metadata such as title, location, and keyword tags.

Ridge said it was great to have feedback from the public and encouraged anyone with information or material to get in touch with Manawatū Heritage.

Two-thirds of the posters had been downloaded, with work still in progress on the final third.

Manawatū Heritage aimed to surface things that were usually hidden and wanted more music history on the site.

“That’s why we were really excited and really happy that The Stomach was willing to lend us these posters.

“It immediately caused quite a stir on Facebook pages and things like that. [with people] saying “that was my band“.

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