Icon Conference 2016: Scotland Tour

Due to popular demand, we are hosting a one-day event in which we return to some of the themes and presentations given in the Scotland Group, and Care of Collections Group sessions at last year’s Icon conference.

The day will consist of ten presentations from speakers from all over the UK on a wide range of subjects, and plenty of time for networking. Refreshments and lunch are also provided. Join us for what will surely be a popular event!

  • Date: Friday, 27 October 2017
  • Time: 9.00 – 16.30
  • Location: Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
  • Costs: Icon Member £45, Student £30, Non-Icon Member £70

Book HERE now!

Timetable

9.00 – 9.30: Arrival, tea and coffee provided

9.30 – 9.40: Introductions and welcome

9.40 – 10.00: Emily Hick, Special Collections Conservator, Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh – Crowdsourcing Conservation

The Centre for Research Collections (CRC) at the University of Edinburgh, is developing innovative ways to carry out conservation work and engage with the student population. This paper will outline a two-day crowdsourcing event, the first of its kind ever held at the CRC, in which 30 students aim to rehouse section II of the Laing manuscripts – the University’s most important written collection.

The presentation will describe the event, provide an evaluation of it, and discuss the challenges faced and ethical points considered. It will also give useful tips and advice for other institutions who are considering holding a similar event. It is hoped that this paper will spark discussion and information sharing about how to help non-conservators engage with conservation treatment in a meaningful way whilst still meeting the need for an ethical approach.

10.00 – 10.20: Claire Thomson, Book and Paper Conservator, National Library of Scotland – The Conservation of the ‘Chimney Map’

A rare antique map that was found stuffed up a chimney in Aberdeen to stop draughts has been saved following intricate conservation work at the National Library of Scotland. It has been revealed to be a late 17th century wall map of the world produced by the Dutch engraver Gerald Valck and there are only two other known copies in existence.

This talk will discuss the work to clean and restore the map, which proved to be one of the most complex yet undertaken by the Library’s conservation department.

10.20 – 10.40: Lizzie Miller, Object Conservator Birmingham Museums Trust – Keeping up with Contemporary Collecting – How conservators at Birmingham Museums Trust are adapting to working with complex modern artworks.

As is the current trend in many museums, Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT)’s five year collecting policy focusses on contemporary sculpture, including installation artworks containing moving elements and time-based media. Yet with no specialist conservator in this discipline, how can the department ensure the preservation of these complex new acquisitions?

A key example is the recently acquired modern art installation, ARTicle 14, Débrouille-toi, toi-même! By Romuald Hazoumè, comprising over 711 individual items, 300 of which are plastic, including mobile phones, trainers and toys. With no budget to employ specialist conservators the BMT conservation team have had to change and adapt to work with such complex pieces, with unstable modern materials, whilst honouring the Artist’s original intent. This paper will explore how conservation are learning to adapt to changing collections policies, by collaborating with external experts and taking on new training and research, to ensure the long-term preservation of these challenging works.

10.40 – 11.00: Questions and answers

11.00 – 11.30: Morning break, tea and coffee provided

11.30 – 11.50: Dr. Cordelia Rogerson, Head of Conservation, British Library – Increasing the Profile and Influence of Conservation – An Unexpected Benefit of Risk Assessments

Risk assessment prior to treatments, exhibitions or loans is vital to conservation, allowing potential problems to be identified and mitigated. After recent work on British Library ‘Treasures’, including Magna Carta, the Lindisfarne Gospels and Shakespeare’s mortgage deed, it became apparent that these assessments also served to significantly raise the profile and influence of the Conservation Department within the institution. By presenting risks in a clear, impartial and unambiguous manner, concerns held by conservators can be readily explained to other stakeholders, and this proved invaluable when promoting outcomes not in accordance with their initial aims or requirements. Furthermore, this approach allows complex arguments based on specialist knowledge and experience to be clearly conveyed to non-specialists, emphasising the importance of the conservator’s expertise. The risk assessment models developed as a result are now used widely across the Library, cementing the role of conservation as central to the functioning of the institution.

11.50 – 12.10: Sarah VanSnick, Senior Conservation Manager, National Archives – Taking on mould in a multidisciplinary team.

The National Archives, UK has recently reviewed how it treats and manages existing mould in the collection to mitigate against further outbreaks or reinfection. Mould is a complex issue for any cultural heritage institution to deal with and requires a multidisciplinary and evidence based approach. This paper will present how the conservation team critically evaluated practices within the sector, advice and guidance from external bodies and newly commissioned evidence. It will examine the skills required and challenges to be faced in starting discussions that lead to changes in policy and practice that are relevant to the rest of the sector.

12.10 – 12.30: Dr Isobel Griffin, Collections Care Manager, National Library of Scotland – Collections environment standards: useful or obstructive?

How can collections environment standards such as PAS 198 and PD 5454 practically help us in informing decisionmaking? This paper will discuss whether standards are too prescriptive, or too vague, and will use experiences from the National Library of Scotland to focus on two particular areas: the world of exhibition loans, where requirements still vary between organisations despite the 2014 IIC and ICOM-CC Declaration and the guidelines issued by various groups; and the preservation of film, which is informed by detailed research predicting the effect of the environment upon the lifetime of film collections. Finally, with ambitious targets for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions lying ahead, the paper will ask where we go from here. Is there room for further relaxation of target temperature and Relative Humidity values? And if the rate of change is just as important as the absolute values, how can we measure and control it?

12.30 – 12.50: Questions and answers

12.50 – 13.50: Lunch break. Lunch provided at the venue

13.50 – 14.10: Helen Murdina Hughes, Textile Conservator, Glasgow Life – ‘Unity is Strength’ – Rediscovering Glasgow’s Union and Community Banners at Maryhill Stores: a Cross-disciplinary Documentation and Engagement project.

Glasgow Museums provides a home for a wonderful but little-documented collection of banners, dating from early precursors of trade union groups to modern disputes and peace protests, charting the history of the City’s social conscience. Many of these banners have been kept at Maryhill Stores: a series of old industrial units with basic climatic controls, a skeleton staff and limited access. The arrival of a new ‘decant and inventory’ project team offered an opportunity to change this. The banners project became an invaluable opportunity for crossdisciplinary working, with Conservators, Documentation, Photographers and Students collaborating to create integrated inventories and condition assessments. The work also helped facilitate another concurrent project, ‘Banner Tales’, which took event-specific banners back into the communities that created them, inspiring collection engagement around Glasgow.

14.10 – 14.30: Lynsey Haworth, Regional Collections Manager, Historic Environment Scotland – Hanging out: strain monitoring of tapestries.

Tapestry conservation research has tended to focus on chemical degradation. But what impact does the physical structure of a tapestry have on its eventual decay? In early 2015 a collaborative research project was initiated between the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Textile Conservation and Historic Environment Scotland. The project is capturing high quality images of the newly completed Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry from Stirling Castle, using time lapse photography. The images are fed through a software program turning them into ‘strain maps’, highlighting areas where deformation has taken place. This will show how much strain the tapestry is under and how this changes over time, and highlight areas where damage is likely to occur.

This project is part of wider research into tapestry conservation techniques. Strain data and computer modelling are being used to investigate the effects of different treatment and display methods.

14.30 – 14.50: Sarah Foskett, Lecturer, MPhil Textile Conservation, University of Glasgow – Monitoring Costume on Display: a collaborative project between University of Glasgow and Glasgow Museums

Collaborative work between conservation students, established conservation professionals and museum institutions offers a valuable opportunity for all concerned, especially for students for whom it provides a platform to gain real world experience and contribute to the profession. Second year students at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History joined forces with Glasgow Museums to undertake environmental monitoring of a major temporary exhibition held at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, A Century of Style: Costume and Colour 1800-1899. The exhibition showcased some rarely seen examples of European costume, much of which was on open display. Students focused on dust monitoring, using low-cost and low-technology methods of collecting, analyzing and quantifying the levels of dust within the exhibition. This paper aims to outline, examine, and evaluate the efficacy and limitations of the methods used and will discuss the student conservator’s role and responsibility within this project.

14.50 – 15.10: Ioannis Vasallos, Photographic Collections Conservator, National Library of Scotland – The Preservation of Black and White Polaroid prints: Research based on three albums from the Stanley Kubrick Archive.

The Stanley Kubrick Archive has a unique set of albums with Polaroid prints made during the filming of ‘’The Shining’’; these objects are an important source for the study of the work of the acclaimed director. Research was carried out in 2012 in order to determine the cause of fading in a large number of prints from these albums. Over the course of the research, both the materials of the photographs and the albums were examined. The study and the identification of the Polaroid prints yielded interesting results that helped the decision-making process for subsequent treatments on the objects, in order to ensure their preservation and accessibility. Furthermore, issues are raised on the complexity of the nature and preservation of Polaroid prints and the need for further research on the topic. Finally, the importance of keeping the integrity of the albums is discussed.

15.10 – 15.30: Questions and answers

15.30 – 15.40: Final remarks and close

15.40 – 16.30: Refreshments and networking

16.30: Close

 

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