Ingenious Impressions: The Coming of the Book

This week’s blog is a summary of a six-month internship by Sarah Graham at the University of Glasgow. Sarah helped to prepare for the current ‘Ingenious Impressions’ exhibition at the Hunterian Art Gallery, which closes on the 21st June. Don’t miss out on this innovative exhibition, get down there now!

For the last six months I have been the conservation intern on the Glasgow Incunabula Project at the University of Glasgow. This was in preparation for the Ingenious Impressions exhibition which opened in February and runs until June. There has been a lot of bench work in the studio to prepare this 500 year old material for display but I have also been given experience outside the studio during the installation and engaging with social media. The overwhelming majority of material in Special Collections is available for reference in the reading room and they frequently loan material to exhibitions worldwide. This, however, is the first time they have curated their own exhibition in over 10 years. Over the last 5 years, the Glasgow Incunabula Project (Julie Gardham, Jack Baldwin and Bob Mclean) have catalogued over a thousand incunabula (books produced between 1450-1501) when the printed book was created as we know it today.

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Karma, Castles and Condoms: My Career in Conservation

“So, what do you do?” This is the question that I always dread at parties. The blank look, the polite nod, the death of the conversation….. Hello, my name is Emily, and I am a paper conservator and no, I don’t work with trees.

I first became interested in conservation during my undergraduate degree at Glasgow University. I was studying History of Art and I remember having a lecture on technical art history, that is, how to find out more about a painting by analysing the materials used. They showed us a painting which had pink flowers in, and then went on to explain that these flowers were originally white, but they had changed over time in reaction with the environment. Years of research had gone in to these pink flowers. Why did the artist choose pink? What did it symbolise? Only to find out that the artist didn’t intend for these flowers to be pink at all! I was amazed that paintings could be viewed in a totally different way, affecting our interpretation of it, and found the whole story very amusing.

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