3-Day Practical Gilding Course

Location: Centre for Textile Conservation, The Robertson Building, Level 3, 56 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow G11 6AQ

Date: 3rd – 5th September 2018 (10:00 – 16:00 each day)

Tickets: Student – £150, Icon member – £250, Non-Icon member – £300

Booking through Eventbrite

This course aims to  familiarise  the  students  with materials,  methods  and  techniques  of  both  water  and  oil gilding.    The  course  will  give  participants  the  opportunity to  learn  a  variety  of  skills  relating  to  gilding  using traditional materials  and  techniques.    Participants will take away with them a gilded frame.

This practical course will cover some information about gilding conservation, making it particularly useful to newly qualified conservators; however it is also suited to anyone with an interest in gilding – beginner, refresher or someone with experience.

To quote the Tutor, Tim Ritson, “Gilding skills are very transferable and even as an experienced gilder I’m always interested in picking up new techniques.”

All tools and materials are included in the cost.  Lunch, tea and coffee will be provided.

 Tutor: Tim Ritson

Head of Frames Conservation at the Royal Museums Greenwich

Tim first discovered the skills and techniques of gilding and frame making while working at the Queensland Art Gallery, Australia. Since then, Tim has developed his passion, gaining specialist knowledge, skills and experience in the art of gilding, carving and frame making. After working in a private conservation studio in Venice, Tim moved to The Royal Collection Trust where he spent 5 years conserving frames throughout the Royal Palaces. Tim is passionate about teaching and sharing his knowledge to promote the continuance of traditional craft skill.

 

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Birthplace Project – Multi disciplinary conservation at The David Livingstone Trust, Blantyre

 

 

Hazel Neill writes:

Housed within the walls of the 18th Century cotton mill tenement building, surrounded by parkland on the banks of the River Clyde, the David Livingstone Trust collection is rich in African heritage, Christian missionary material and Scottish social and industrial history. In portraying the remarkable life of Victorian national hero David Livingstone, this collection encapsulates and records aspects of 19th century imperialist Britain and its relationship with Africa.

 

Founded by a Christian charity in 1929 to honour and celebrate Livingstone’s humble beginnings, scientific explorations of Africa and missionary work, the museum has recently been awarded HLF, Scottish Government and HES funding for a major refurbishment of the building and conservation and re-interpretation of the collection. The de-cant of the collection to temporary storage is led  by Project Conservator, Lesley Scott.

 

I was very fortunate to be given a guided tour of the site by Lesley, back in February this year and in this blog post I hope to convey something of Lesley’s work in undertaking this first phase of the Birthplace Project.

 

The listed mill building was harled in concrete in the 1970’s and has many structural problems as a direct consequence. The restoration of the building necessitates the entire collection being moved off-site. It will then be possible to reverse the inappropriate treatments of the past and allow the building to dry out before internal work and eventual re-harling with lime based mortar is carried out.

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Lesley outlined some of the challenges involved in the de-installing, conserving and re-housing the collection, not least regarding the fourteen dioramas by Charles D’Orville Pilkington Jackson. The high relief sculptures, that illustrate important events in the explorer’s life, were inserted into original bed recesses for the mill workers beds within the tight confines of the workers living quarters. The restoration of these painted plaster cast sculptures forms a major focus of the project and is being undertaken by Graciela Ainsworth. As Lesley pointed out, the plaster, glass and wood constructions around the sculptures were ‘built to last’ and have proved very difficult to de-construct.

 

There are three different elements to the collections. The Blantyre Works Collection, David Livingstone Personal Collection and the African Collections with a further Collection of Interest held at the National Library of Scotland.

 

 

Rich in ethnographic material many objects are highly sensitive to environmental and biological agents of deterioration and require careful handling and much consideration in terms of future storage and display.

 

As well as conservation, one of the many challenges of the Birthplace Project is to sensitively re-interprete the collection for a modern audience and, as their website says, to create a ‘place of inspiration to promote dialogue between the people of Scotland and Sub-Saharan Africa’.  There is a powerful and uncomfortable resonance to the slave related artefacts as well as to much of the colonial and missionary material and it will be fascinating to see how this is tackled in the future.

 

The diversity and complexity of Lesley’s work is considerable, taking in all manner of material including costume, paintings, historic metal, ivory, gold and Livingstone’s well travelled scientific and medical equipment.

 

She is undertaking a condition survey and prioritising the most vulnerable objects for conservation and will be seeking tenders from conservators in appropriate fields in due course.

 

 

Fosshape Workshop

Today’s blog was written by Gwen Thomas, Collections Care Officer for The City of Edinburgh Council. It describes a recent training event at the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre…

On Friday April 20th I was fortunate to be part of a group of 8 conservators attending the ICON Scotland Fosshape workshop at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. The workshop was led by Glasgow Museums Textile Conservator Maggie Dobbie, who aimed to show us how flexible and versatile a material Fosshape can be in making temporary costume mounts.  She has used it with success in the past for making multiple costume mounts quickly and inexpensively, as well as being able to fashion it in a way that works for unusual objects that can’t be mounted on a standard form, such as bathing costumes.

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The Engine Shed, Stirling ISG Committee Annual Away Day February 2018

This year the annual ISG Committee Away Day was held at the brand new Historic Environment Scotland facility, The Engine Shed in Stirling, a centre for education and conservation of the built environment.

img_0614.jpgIn his introduction, Brian Wilkinson the Activities and Events Manager, explained that there are around half a million traditional buildings in Scotland, i.e. those that pre-date 1919. Changes in building construction after the First World War led to a gradual loss of historic practice, a skills shortage and inevitably the use of inappropriate materials resulting in preventable damage to our built heritage.

One of the prime functions of this new centre is to redress the balance by providing the skills and material knowledge to care for our traditional built heritage and to disseminate this through the building industry and the wider population: from an Advanced Professional Diploma in Technical Building Conservation [awarded by the University of Stirling], individual modules which can be utilised for CPD training to visits from primary school groups and free publications.

A traditional building itself, the Engine Shed was built somewhere between 1890 and 1910 in the former 40 acre military re-distribution complex; the precise date of construction is unknown due to the absence of military information on contemporary maps.img_0612.jpgWhen the military left the site in the 1990’s the building fell into disrepair and stood empty until acquired by HES in the early 2000’s. On the completion of a ten-year project, funded by HLF, it was officially opened on 3rd July 2017. It embodies the principles that HES are duty bound to uphold in that it is sustainable, environmentally sound, utilises only biodegradable, recycled and recyclable materials, many of which are sourced locally: Glulam beams, sheep wool insulation, ground source heat pumps, clay mortar and zinc cladding to name a few.

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Conservation Science

On our tour of the facilities, conservation scientist Callum Graham highlighted some of the non- destructive analytical techniques employed by HES and their multiple applications. An interesting example was the use of the portable XRF machine to examine fragments of the Glasgow School of Art library lights to identify the precise nature of the materials used by Macintosh in their construction…the presence of specific concentrations of copper and zinc indicated a particular grade of brass and a lead and tin solder. It was also interesting to discover that this technique can be used to determine the age of glass e.g.- the presence of strontium indicates a specific period when kelp was used in glassmaking.

Another valuable portable examination technique was the handheld thermal imaging camera. The camera detects IR radiation and is used to locate issues with historic buildings such as heat loss and water ingress.

Callum explained the use of microwave moisture sensors to measure the moisture content within the walls of buildings and the necessity of accurate stone matching in building conservation. Petrographic microscopy is an essential technique in the identification of grain structure and mineralogy in stone as an incompatible stone repair within a building can accellerate the decay of original, historic material.

Digital Documentation

The work of the Digital Documentation Team was introduced by surveyor and spatial analyst, James Hepher and digital documentation intern, Marta Pilarska. The team use photographic, photogrammetric and 3D laser scanning surveys to record the contours and topography of both the monumental e.g.- castles and coastlines to the miniature e.g. tooled leather book covers, coins and wax seals.

Different techniques are used to serve many purposes, for example: 3D laser scanning of landscapes allows the creation of a baseline record from which to map erosion, compare future data sets, to inform on the effects of interventions and to plan new conservation approaches. For smaller scale objects, digital photogrammetry utilises stereo imaging software to transform 2D images into 3D information which can then be used in the 3D printer to create scalable facsimiles, which in turn have multiple applications.

RTI [Reflectance Transformation Imaging] is, on the face of it, an affordable and accessible technique which creates a synthesised 2D image capturing a high degree of detail of the surface contours of an object.  Marta explained that using a stationary, securely mounted SLR camera, a good, portable light source and free software from ‘Cultural Heritage Imaging’ it is possible to record astonishing topographical detail that would otherwise not be immediately visible.

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The Gigamacro photogrammetry imaging system

Icon Scotland Group Committee would like to thank all of the HES staff at The Engine Shed for a very informative and enjoyable day.

 

Paper Conservators in Scotland: News and Ideas Exchange 2018

When: 12.45pm for 1pm start, Thursday 10th May 2018
Where: Centre for Research Collections, 5th Floor, University of Edinburgh Library, 30 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LJ
Cost: Free! Refreshments included. Thanks to Icon Scotland Group for financial support.

This now annual event is an opportunity for us to get together to share news and information about our current work. We are looking for 5 minute presentations about a topic that you think your paper colleagues would be interested to hear about. We invite paper people in (and near) Scotland of all levels of experience to contribute, and are hoping to have a very supportive and non-judgemental afternoon. Read about previous news and idea exchanges here and here!

There will be tea, coffee and cake at the start, at the end, and the in the middle, giving plenty of opportunity to chat with colleagues.

Your topic might be about

  • An interesting treatment you are or have recently been involved with
  • A detail of a treatment that threw up challenges
  • A conservation problem you are faced that you would like colleagues’ ideas on
  • A new technique or piece of equipment that you have been using

Last year some of the many interesting topics included ethics, water quality, and crowd sourcing; treatment of papyrus, 3D models, and tracing paper; and working as a trainee, and in isolation.

Presentations will be strictly limited to 5 minutes. To help on the technical side we would like people to send digital submissions for their presentations in advance to Emily Hick who is hosting the event (email to emily.hick@ed.ac.uk ).

The space is limited to about 30 people. We are hoping that up to 20 presentations will be given.

Please send requests to present / attend to helencreasy@gmail.com

Don’t be shy! There are lots of us paper conservators in Scotland and we meet up all too rarely. We hope that this event, like the previous three years, will connect us better so we can support and help each other in the future.

Paper Conservators Event at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Paper Conservators Event at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh in 2015

Conservation Conversations Call Out…

Icon Scotland Group would like to invite conservators working in Scotland to share their work on the ‘Conservation Conversations’ blog on our website.

We want to demonstrate the diversity of the profession in Scotland and highlight the skill and quality of the work being undertaken in every corner of our country. Whether a monumental project, research of international significance, a post detailing a typical day in the life of a conservator or observations on a microscopic scale – anything interesting that you would like to share would be very welcome for consideration.

Please get in touch with Hazel Neill who will be happy to upload a completed blog post or arrange a call/visit to compose a blog post on your behalf.  

hazelanneneill@gmail.com

Events Questionnaire

This questionnaire is now closed. Many thanks to all who responded.

To help us plan for next year’s event schedule, we have put together a questionnaire to find out what kind of conservation training and events you want to see in Scotland.

Please fill out the following survey to help us get the courses and training you need in Scotland. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ZTNTBLM

It will take no more than 2 minutes and no personal details are taken.

Thank you for your time!

Emerging professionals event in January 2017 at Edinburgh Castle

Attending the Icon Conference 2016: Scotland Tour

This week’s blog comes from Holly Sanderson, Conservation Volunteer at the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh, and aspiring book and paper conservator. It describes her experience of going to Icon Scotland’s most recent event in Edinburgh…

I am writing this blog shortly after attending my first conservation conference (of many, I’m sure!). Due to popular demand, the Scotland Group and the Care of Collections group hosted a one-day event in which they returned to some of the key themes and presentations of last year’s Icon Conference in Birmingham. It proved to be a stimulating day full of interesting and informative talks that provoked many questions about how a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach can enhance and improve not only individual treatment strategies, but the field of conservation as a whole.

Question and answer panel session

Question and answer panel session

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Art and Analysis: Two Netherlandish painters working in Scotland

It has been very gratifying to see conservation in Scotland making the news this week, ahead of the opening of the new Scottish National Portrait Gallery display. Open the link below to access details of the exhibition and a short film on the technical examination and conservation treatment associated with the project.

Art and Analysis: Two Netherlandish painters working in Scotland

Focussing on the two 17th-century artists Adrian Vanson and Adam de Colone, this small exhibition presents the findings of a collaborative research project between paintings conservator Dr Caroline Rae, the Courtauld Institute of Art Caroline Villers Research Fellow, and the National Galleries of Scotland Conservation Department. On display are a group of paintings from the National Galleries of Scotland collection which have been examined by Caroline using cutting-edge technology,  including X-radiography, infrared reflectography and dendrochronology.

The display will also feature the very exciting discovery of a painting of a woman believed to be Mary, Queen of Scots, hidden underneath a painting by Adrian Vanson. The painting, which is owned by the National Trust, will be in the exhibition alongside more information about the hidden painting.

 

The Plenderleith Lecture 2017: Conservation+ with Helen Shenton

Details of this year’s Plenderleith Memorial lecture have been announced! Please see below for more information. Before the event, we have also organised a tour of National Museums Conservation Collections Centre Granton, and as always, members are invited to attend the Icon Scotland Group’s AGM which precedes the lecture. 

  • Title: Conservation+ personal reflections on a journey from conservator to director.
  • Speaker: Helen Shenton
  • Date: Thursday 30 November 2017
  • Time: 6.15pm – 7.15pm
  • Location: National Galleries of Scotland, The Mound (entrance off Princes Street Gardens), Edinburgh, EH2 2EL
  • Cost: Student £6, Icon Member £12, Non-Icon Member £13

Booking through Eventbrite.

Helen Shenton

The Scottish Conservation sector’s keynote annual Plenderleith lecture for 2017 will explore changes in the heritage sector and the potential for conservation professionals to influence those changes, with reference to the career of Helen Shenton. Helen has travelled from the V&A to the British Library to Harvard to Trinity College Dublin, and journeyed from being a bench conservator to her current directorial role of Librarian and College Archivist at Trinity College Dublin. She will reflect on conservation, cultural heritage and management from her perspective of having worked in different roles across different sectors in the UK, Australia, America and Ireland, and will develop some ideas about ‘going broad and deep’ to other disciplines, professions, media and technologies beyond conservation.

The lecture will last from 6.15 – 7.15pm and will be preceded by the Icon Scotland Group’s AGM (to which all members are invited) from 5.30 – 6.00pm, and followed by a drinks reception.

A CPD visit to the National Museums Conservation Collections Centre in Granton will run in the afternoon from 2.30 – 4.30pm, and is bookable separately through Eventbrite

For a sneak preview of this year’s speaker, please see below the TEDx talk she gave in 2014 entitled ‘Collaboratories and bubbles of shush – how libraries are transforming’.

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. On the 5th of July 2009, Helen Shenton was one of only three people alive who had seen the entire Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest complete copy of the New Testament and one of the most important books in the world. The next day, a digital version of the book went online and within 24 hours 20 million people had seen it. Helen explains how the digital shift will transform libraries of the future.

Helen Shenton is Librarian and College Archivist at Trinity College Dublin. Before that, Helen was Executive Director of Harvard Library in the US where 73 individual libraries make up Harvard’s 378-year old library system. Helen understand the impact new technologies are having on libraries, and has been involved in projects such as the virtual re-unification of the earliest New Testament.