Events Questionnaire

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

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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.

Alaskan Archaeological Conservation at the University of Aberdeen

Think Alaska, flat open tundra contrasting with mountains and the sea – setting the background to an old frozen village buried for 500 years. Think climate change, melting permafrost, the Bering Sea and its storms eroding the coast – and artefacts leaching out onto the beach. Think Prehistoric times, grass turned into ropes and baskets, leather into garments and pouches, precious foods stored in vessels…

Julie Masson-MacLean, archaeological conservator, is working for the University of Aberdeen Archaeology Department on the grass, leather/fur and ceramic artefacts from the site of Nunalleq (XVe-XVIIe c), Southwest Alaska. The site represents the remains of a pre-contact Yup’ik Eskimo village of sod houses that collapsed quickly on themselves, sealing everything in situ. In 2009, after a severe storm local people from the nearby village of Quinhagak found large quantities of artefacts spilling from the site onto the beach. Concerned that part of their heritage was disappearing, they contacted archaeologist Dr. Rick Knecht, senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, who set up a rescue excavation. The loss of coastline due to erosion has been so severe, at an average rate of 1m/year, that the 2009 and 2010 excavation trenches have now gone.

The edge of the site with the eroding coast

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A view of the excavation

An astonishing collection of over 50000 artefacts has been unearthed including approximately 2000 pieces of grass basketry and 200 of leather/fur. The assemblage is in a remarkable state of preservation due to its burial in permafrost and waterlogged soils. Furthermore, the presence of sphagnum moss may also have contributed as it has recognised antimicrobial properties. Ivory, antler and wood artefacts are so well preserved that they resemble their ethnographic counterparts, while leather and grass artefacts require more care, though well-preserved features are observed such as boot sole pleating or basketry twining patterns. Pottery can be in poor condition comprising broken and crumbly, delaminated sherds; this is probably related to its manufacture as the coarse clay is low-fired and tempered with coarse sand, pebbles and hair/fur. However, the deeper the excavation goes the better the artefacts are preserved.

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Dr. Rick Knecht and Julie Masson-MacLean with a sample of the Nunalleq artefacts.

When Julie started working on the collection at the end of 2015, Nunalleq had already yielded an unexpected quantity of significant artefacts. This collection is unique coming from a region where little archaeological research has been conducted, and as a result, some artefacts are unidentified yet.

Wet and muddy, the finds need stabilisation by means of appropriate cleaning and drying. Typically, objects are cleaned with tweezers to remove dirt and pebbles, then washed on a support with distilled water. Grass artefacts are currently controlled-dried in fridges. It has been found that braided ropes made of roots are strong and dry easily while large flat baskets or long bundles made of grass leaves/strands are much trickier. The information available on wet archaeological grass is scarce so Julie is investigating polyethylene glycol (PEG) treatments as initial tests provided encouraging results. Large basketry is being packed in cut-to shape corefoam trays allowing for the safe handling of these fragile finds for cataloguing, study and adequate storage.

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A basket before conservation…

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… and after conservation, with a little braided fragment on its right side.

Leather artefacts are cleaned with a squeeze bottle, brushes and small tools, and an airbrush for well-preserved fragments. Their shape is recorded and then they are PEG-impregnated and atmospheric freeze-dried. Atmospheric freeze-drying is cost-effective but has a longer drying time – which is, in this case, feasible for the project as the leather collection is yet to be investigated.

An atmospheric freeze-dried leather boot showing two types of stitches: a running stitch with paired holes in the pleated front area and an overcast stitch along the sides.



A leather boot with a grass insole before cleaning…

…and after cleaning. It is currently undergoing atmospheric freeze-drying.

A fur clothing fragment showing possible decorative triangle pattern on the left

The fragment showing sewing on the right

With coarse arctic pottery, washing followed by quick air-drying can trigger further breakage as the cracks open and the clay splits following the large inclusions. To avoid this potential consolidation problem, the sherds were blocked-lifted when possible and then slow-dried, with gentle cleaning undertaken during the process. Several vessels were reconstructed and to quote R. Knecht it is like reconstructing a potato from … crisps! For one large pot (see photo below), missing areas were filled with Plaster of Paris and retouched for an aesthetic appearance while remaining distinguishable from the original sherds.

Large pot after restoration (left) from fragile sherds sensitive to splitting due to the use of coarse temper (right).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow-drying proved very successful and allowed for an excellent drying of two complete clay lamps, where previously, such finds would have crumbled away. The lamps and numerous sherds are being packed by prospective conservation student Sandra Toloczko in foam trays carved to shape and acid-free paper. Sandra is also being trained to clean sherds, small grass fragments and to treat wood.

Two complete lamps: after slow-drying…

…and in an acid-free paper nest inserted in a carved foam tray

This project interweaves archaeological conservation with actuality: on the one hand, the community in Quinhagak is committed to preserving its Heritage as it underpins Yupiit culture. On the other hand, the current work performed on the Nunalleq grass artefacts could help conservation at future well-preserved Arctic sites threatened by increased coastal erosion and melting permafrost due to global warming.

All the finds belong to the village and are due to return to Quinhagak in Spring 2018 to be stored and displayed at the Nunalleq Culture and Archaeology Center.

Julie graduated from Paris I University-Panthéon Sorbonne with a Master’s degree in Archaeological Conservation after completing her internships at The British Museum and the Canadian Conservation Institute where she worked on artefacts from the Canadian Arctic. She now works as a freelance conservator for the University of Aberdeen among other institutions.

 

 

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

 

Material Futures Conference 2017 – A review

Material Futures: Matter, Memory and Loss in Contemporary Art Production and Preservation
 28th – 30th June 2017
 Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow

Speakers from both the curatorial and conservation professions came together in Glasgow to share their experience of exhibiting, documenting and preserving contemporary art in its many forms [by artists living and dead] and the ethical issues therein. How can conceptual and performance art be preserved and how can it be replicated? Ownership… who retains the copyright and control? How can the loss of digital art [particularly that of women] through media obsolescence and patriarchal systems be prevented? The breadth and diversity of the questions under discussion and the commitment of the speakers in grappling to find answers was enlightening and very stimulating.

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Karla Black giving her keynote lecture

It was insightful to begin the conference from the perspective of a leading contemporary artist. Karla Black, with great articulacy and honesty, described the creative drives and processes involved in the creation of her work. She clearly defined the importance of the materiality of her sculptures, which by nature are often almost entirely ephemeral and site specific, but have permanence for her, even if completely destroyed after an exhibition. She explained that commercial success and the inclusion of her works in national and international collections while gratifying and important brings with it difficulties and frustrations; the necessity of compartmentalising a sculpture into a series of recipes and measurements, the creation of detailed documentation and the impossibility of working while scrutinised by conservators and museum technicians can, she explained, kill the creative process.

Here in lies one of the many issues under discussion over the following two days. How to solve this difficult, sometime, seemingly diametric relationship between artists and museum /institution professionals? As Simon Fleury described it, ‘…the gap between the existential and the systematic.’ It became apparent as the conference progressed, that at this early stage in the development of this new field of conservation, a common language with which artists and museum professionals can communicate and an accepted protocol of how to observe, record, store and re-create works of art appears yet to be standardised. The lexicon of terms that emerged, over the course of the conference, to describe the re-display of contemporary art illustrates this point: re-enactments, re-interpretations, re-activations, versions, re-makes and iterations.

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Conservators from NGS and Glasgow Museums with Carol Campbell, wife of the late artist Steven Campbell

Many talks supported the idea that, in the case of contemporary art, the role and influence of the conservator is changing. For example, conservators are central to the development of new methods of documentation and forms of recording or mapping of modern artworks [for example: the use of Go-pro technology, Tate Live List and the mini archives created by Japanese art handling company Higure 17-15 cas].  In undertaking rigorous documentation and dialogue with a given artist, conservators can, in some instances, be the only people who know how to construct [often extremely complex] work of arts. Fascinatingly, several speakers cited cases where conservation documentation was the catalyst for brand new works of art.

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The creation of new art: an artist’s response to a condition report photograph as described by Simon Fleury

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Ulrich Lang describing his work as a conservator in realising the vision of Maurizio Cattelan at the MMK in Frankfurt, 2007

The idea of the trajectory of an artwork was discussed as was the notion that the collective memory of the piece changes irreversibly each time it is re-enacted or exhibited; as conservators, the tenant of reversibility is paramount… it is an interesting thought to consider preserving the integrity of the collective memory of a work.

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Clare M. Holdsworth discussed the work of performance artist Stuart Marshall’s piece Mouthworks from 1976

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Obsolete forms of recording equipment as discussed by Adam Lockhart, DJCAD

Keynote speeches from Tiziana Caianiello from the Zero Foundation in Dusseldorf and Annie Fletcher from the van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, illustrated the depth of thought and respect for artwork and artists that their respective institutions give to the both the display of art, the collection of art. and the role of the modern art museum; it was particularly fascinating to hear about the Picasso in Palestine loan of 2011.

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Annie Fletcher from the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven discussing the Museum Index : thumbnail photographs of every artwork in the collection, colour coded to denote location.

The aim of this conference was to engage with the issues surrounding preserving concept, performance, digital and transient, ephemeral modern art.  As an observer from the field of traditional oil painting conservation, I felt that with each talk the complexity of this field of conservation became more stark and seemingly insurmountable and at the same time so very progressive and exciting. It was an important meeting of minds and demonstrated that Scottish institutions are at the heart of the debate.

Hazel Neill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conservation Volunteering Programme at the National Library of Scotland

Conservators from the National Library of Scotland describe their successful volunteering programme in this week’s blog…

The Library’s Conservation Unit frequently receives requests for volunteer placements, and it can be difficult to accommodate these requests within our busy workshop. Following discussions amongst the conservators, we decided to create a summer volunteering programme which would allow us to take a batch of several volunteers, to work for a day a week on a number of appropriate projects. This would allow us to use volunteers in a more efficient and structured way, and to welcome a greater number of volunteers.

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Event: Towards a Collection of Artists’ Moving Image in Scotland

The National Galleries of Scotland are hosting this free event organised by LUX Scotland.  LUX Scotland is an agency with an international remit to support and promote artists working with moving image in Scotland.  The complexity of the preservation of digital technology will form part of the discussion, ‘How does the growing complexity of digital technology and its lack of materiality create risks for preservation?’ It should be fascinating evening. All welcome.

http://luxscotland.org.uk/collection/event-towards-a-collection-of-artists-moving-image-in-scotland-edinburgh/

 Tuesday 25 July, 6-9pm Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, National Galleries of Scotland, Weston Link, The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL (Please enter through the back door of the Royal Scottish Academy Building) Free, ticketed via Eventbrite

Following the launch of the LUX Scotland Collection project in Glasgow in January 2017, this event continues a series of public dialogues around the establishment of a new distribution collection of artists’ moving image based in Scotland.

The LUX Scotland Collection is intended as a public resource to map and consolidate a lineage of moving image culture in Scotland; to make this work publicly accessible through distribution; and to enhance the national and international profile of this work through exhibition, touring, research and publishing. LUX Scotland is developing the collection as an open research project, working in consultation with the arts community across Scotland on the question of what it means to build such a collection and what it might comprise.

This event will analyse how artists’ moving image has been collected in Scotland, excavating the reasons and motivations behind decisions made around the development of public collections. Through a series of presentations tracing the processes, aspirations and issues that institutions face as a moving image work passes through its doors and into its collection, the event will aim to address some of the following questions:

How does a collection come into being?

What does it mean to bring works together in a collection?

Why should artists’ moving image works be collected?

How are acquisitions and curatorial research financed and supported?

Who decides what to acquire and how are these parameters defined?

How does a moving image collection sit within the context of the broader museum collection?

What are the particular challenges faced in documenting, caring for and ensuring the longevity of artists’ moving image works?

How does the growing complexity of digital technology and its lack of fixed materiality create risks for preservation?

What considerations need to be taken into account in the lending and exhibition of artists’ moving image?

How can museums’ standard loan practices better accommodate the specific needs of moving image works?

Each presentation will provide an in-depth focus on one aspect of the collection process – from funding and strategy, to acquisition, preservation and exhibition – followed by a panel discussion. Speakers include Brian Castriota (time-based media conservator and doctoral candidate, University of Glasgow), Will Cooper (Curator of Contemporary Art, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow), Julie-Ann Delaney (Curator, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art), Robert Dingle (Contemporary Projects Manager, Art Fund), Rachel Maclean (Artist, Scotland + Venice 2017British Art Show 8), and Kirstie Skinner (Director, Outset Scotland and editor and lead researcher, Collecting Contemporary: Curating Art Collections in Scotland).

 

A Sticky Situation!

Conservators at the National Library of Scotland face a sticky situation in this week’s blog post. This article was originally published in the NLS blog

A conservator’s job often involves removing non archival tapes from objects which have been used as a repair; however the letter of C. F. Gordon Cumming to John Murray, dated 1885 which is part of the John Murray Archive, proved to be particularly challenging for the JMA conservator. Approximately 40% of the letters surface was covered in tape on both sides of the letter. The paper which the letter is written on is very brittle causing fragmentation to occur; subsequently the tape has been used as a repair. When pressure sensitive tape, like sellotape, degrades the adhesive migrates out of the tape and into the substrate causing significant discolouration and deterioration of the paper. Self-adhesive tapes can be particularly difficult to remove especially on a brittle paper.

An additional consideration for the conservator was the iron gall ink used by the author. Deterioration can occur if the ink is exposed to moisture which would cause blurring of the text. This had to be taken into consideration during the treatment.

Cumming’s letter with tape before treatment

Cumming’s letter with tape before treatment

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