Speakers and Abstracts from Conservation Activities in Ireland Conference
Held at National Gallery of Ireland on Wednesday 12th November 08
Preservation of the Old Library
Susan Bioletti, Robbie Goodhue, Kerstin Ruhland, Trinity College Dublin
The Old Library is one of Ireland most important buildings, housing the treasures of Trinity College Library’s collection, including the early printed books and manuscripts collections, as well as College archives relating to the inception of TCD in 1592. The Long Room is one of the most famous interiors in the country, and at 65 metres long it is the largest single chamber library of this type in Europe. The shelves in the Long Room and Gallery hold over 250,000 early printed books, which date from the end of the fourteenth century to the nineteenth century. This paper outlined the current methods of analysis used for the Old Library building and its environment, and some of the initiatives that have been implemented to address the preservation needs of the collection into the future.
Big Paintings – Big Problems?
Ciara Brennan MA, Easel Paintings Conservator in private practice
This paper gave an insight into conservation treatment of both small and very large scale paintings. When decay and physical impact is threatening the carrying material - the structural support, this becomes the highest priority for intervention in order to safeguard the painted matter. The choice of alternative methods for the structural repair of canvas supports will be explained, within the context of the challenges of project organisation for large scale paintings.
1641 DEPOSITIONS – The Conservation Project
Laura Caradonna, Book Conservator, Trinity College Dublin
The collection of 1641 Depositions comprises 3,400 statements, and associated materials, in which mainly Protestant men and women of all classes told of their experiences following the outbreak of the rebellion by the Catholic Irish in October 1641.
This body of material, collected by government-appointed commissioners in the decade following the crisis, is unparalleled elsewhere in early modern Europe, and provides a unique source of information about the events surrounding the 1641 rebellion.
As part of the 1641 Deposition Project, a joint research project between Trinity College Dublin and the Universities of Aberdeen and Cambridge, seven volumes of Depositions are being conserved. These are the remaining items in the collection, which is bound in 33 volumes, of which 26 volumes have previously been conserved. This paper outlined the treatment of the last seven volumes which has been designed using a new methodology based on the guidelines on iron gall ink corrosion given by the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage.
The Conservation of Plaster Casts: Some Irish Collections
Jason Ellis, Sculptor (previously sculpture conservator in private practice)
Plaster is a highly versatile sculptural medium. However, it is fragile, and old casts require a great deal of care. In the 19th century, many museums displayed plaster casts taken from Greek & Roman originals, such as the Parthenon marbles, which allowed the widespread study and appreciation of the work of Classical sculptors. Casts were also frequently used in art schools for life drawing and modelling. The medium is still used by artists today. Neglect, damp and physical damage have caused the loss of many museum collections, but those that still exist are starting to be cared for and conserved. The talk focused on six different collections in Ireland, explaining the problems suffered by individual casts and showing the repair techniques used.
The Conservation of the “Cruiskeen”, a Rowing Skiff of National Importance
Sven Habermann, Furniture Conservator in private practice
This important historical four-oar rowing boat owned and rowed by Maurice Davin, the first president of the GAA, was discovered in a shed in Carrick-on-Suir. Conservation Letterfrack was commissioned to conserve and prepare the boat for exhibition. The presentation explained the logistic challenges of moving a fragile forty foot boat and explained pest eradication and other conservation treatments. Sven was unable to deliver his talk, so his colleague Simon Brown kindly stepped in to present it.
An insight into the practice of an Exhibitions Conservator
Pat Mc Bride, Paper Conservator in private practice
Exhibitions of cultural material are constantly travelling from Ireland to institutions around the world, following a strict criterion. Conservators who work with exhibitions on a regular basis develop a unique insight into this aspect of museum practice. This paper addressed, through the example of a Hogarth exhibition loaned from the Irish Museum of Modern Art, aspects of loaning material from a conservation standpoint.
The conservation of the Lough Kinale Book Shrine: an update
Paul Mullarkey, Archaeological Conservator, National Museum of Ireland
In 1986 the remains of a book shrine were found in Lough Kinale, County Longford. This early medieval shrine is fabricated from oak boards onto which are nailed tinned-bronze sheets and highly decorated mounts of gilt-bronze, embellished with amber studs. Due to the anaerobic conditions on the bed of the lake, most of the components were in an excellent state of preservation. However as the metal and organic components could not be treated separately, new conservation methods and techniques had to be devised. His talk covered the find circumstances, the condition and a brief description of the shrine, the techniques used in its manufacture and the ongoing conservation treatment.
GMIT Letterfrack Conservation Programme
Angelika Rauch, Lecturer in Furniture Conservation, GMIT Letterfrack
The Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) offers a Bachelor of Science degree programme in Furniture Conservation and an Honours degree programme in Conservation of Wooden Objects at its Letterfrack campus. The talk highlighted some achievements of the course, including the on-going conservation project of “The Great Wheel Lathe” within an historical context.
Combining techniques for the Turkish collection
Kristine Rose, Book Conservator at The Chester Beatty Library
This paper focused on the treatment of the Chester Beatty library’s Turkish collection and the associated problems unique to Islamic binding structures. The incorporation of techniques from both European and Islamic binding traditions, to provide ethical and sympathetic conservation solutions, will be discussed and an Andalucian sewing technique will be introduced.
Kristine Rose became book conservator for the Turkish collections at the Chester Beatty Library in March 2008. She studied at Camberwell College of Arts before moving to Cambridge University Library Department of Conservation, where she worked for five years. Kristine has worked on a wide range of rare book and manuscript material, with a particular focus on Near Eastern Book structures.
Emperors and Elephants, the Conservation of Indian Miniatures
Rachael Smith, Paper Conservator, Chester Beatty Library
Rachael trained in Paper Conservation at Northumbria University, including a placement at the National Museum of India, Delhi. She joined the Library as the first Heritage Council co-funded intern in November 2006. Her two year internship has focused on the conservation of the Library’s important Indian miniature collection. Produced for the Mughal emperors of India from the 16th century, these paintings on paper are beautifully intricate and lavishly decorated. This talk will provide an overview of her research into the use of gold on the paintings, and the techniques used in their production. This led to the development a treatment strategy for this collection, including consolidation of flaking pigment using a nebuliser.
Ele von Monschaw, Easel Paintings Conservator, National Gallery of Ireland
During the conservation of a number of paintings from the NGI collection, red tones have proved to be very problematic. Browning, cracking and fading are common problems that span different periods from the 1500’s to the Victorian age. These inherent problems have caused deterioration of the paint layers and the colour that was originally used to highlight and embellish.
Restoration of a Dublin Victorian Tiled Floor
David Wilcoxson, Mosaicist/Conservator in private practice
This talk described the rehabilitation of a badly-worn floor of Victorian geometric and encaustic tiles. Mention will be made of technical and aesthetic issues, as well as some of the challenges of managing such a project.
Presented by David Wilcoxson, who restores antique tile floors as part of his work as a tiler and mosaicist. David holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Sculpture Dept. of California College of Arts. He has been in business in Ireland since 1992.