A Game-Changing 2 days in Stirling

Historic Environment Scotland: Monuments in Monuments 2019
Monday2 September  – Wednesday 4 September 2019 Engine Shed, Stirling

Meredith Macbeth – Conference Review

Autumn has absolutely flown by and the Monuments in Monuments 2019 Conference seems like a distant memory, but for me, the impact certainly lives on. MiM 2019 took place over three days in early September 2019. The speakers ranged from the technical to the theoretical. There were case studies and papers on policy, and a big focus on climate change and its effects on the historic environment. To catch up with friends old and new and to find out what lies in the heart of stone conservation today, all from the hub of the buzzing Engine Shed in Stirling made the experience more than beneficial. Attendees were able to explore notable sites in the Central belt which really gave the opportunity to tap into the work that is being done in Scotland. Delegates were able to choose from  Fossil Grove, Glasgow Cathedral or  Glasgow Necropolis on the first day. On the third day, delegates were able to choose between Dunblane Cathedral/Leighton Library, British Geological Survey or the South Gyle Conservation Centre. With such interesting options, it was hard to choose! And while I was unable to attend it, the ceilidh at Stirling Castle appeared to be a massive hit with more than a few bleary eyes and heads the next morning!

Monuments in Monuments 2019: the beginning of the conference.

I am fortunate enough to have a “dream position” job with Orkney Islands Council working at the extraordinary St. Magnus Cathedral – where I am the sole Stone Mason/Conservator. The job has its challenges but being able to exist within the red and white sandstone walls of St. Magnus is an absolute privilege. My tasks are quite varied from taking lime samples and helping to plan our next 10 years of work, through to changing lightbulbs and clearing drains. Every day is different and with big works on the horizon, every month and year will be different. Sourcing local stone continues to be a tough issue and working within a Council budget and bureaucracy also continues to be an opportunity for a challenge, although slightly less fun than taking samples from closed quarries.

I was given the opportunity to attend MiM 2019 and represent ICON Scotland as a representative on the Group’s “Trade Stand”. I was absolutely delighted to represent ICON Scotland and had many interesting chats with fellow members and interested parties while answering queries on the stand.

Meredith Macbeth representing ICON Scotland on the Group’s “Trade Stand”.

I found myself thinking “What a fast two years it has been since I attended the opening of the Engine Shed!”. I am always so pleased to step over the threshold as I know I will be greeted by a group of cheery folks passionate about the historic environment. Arriving at MiM 2019 was no different and more exciting as an international conference, we had the opportunity to ‘show off’ the Engine Shed and the impressive works undertaken by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

I’ve been working in conservation since 2008 and I was really struck at this conference to see the radical improvement and accessibility of technology since then. It was exciting to see technology being assimilated and used well, primarily for documentation and interpretation. It was brilliant to see and certainly encouraged me to “up my game”. The use of drones (Brian Johnston, Queen’s University) for example, time-lapse cameras, (Sarah Hamilton, HES) thermal imaging (Kinley Laidlaw) and not to mention all the 3D recording. Exciting times! Inspired by this conference, I have recently employed Orkney Sky Cam to survey our East Window, internally and externally. Having such a set of high-resolution photos and videos is so useful for planning and worth their weight in high-level gold!

I found it incredibly heartening to see the community that came together at MiM 2019 with conservation as a common interest. There were speakers from all over the world including Ethiopia, New Mexico, Switzerland, Isle of Man, Washington D.C. and Italy all sharing their cultures, work and concerns, absolutely wonderful to see new sites and ponder new challenges. Blen Gemeda’s (Oxford University) talk on medieval rock-hewn churches in Ethiopia was visually stunning and an interesting challenge. The ongoing preservation of the inscriptions at El Morro National Monument by Angelyn Bass and Katharine Williams (University of New Mexico) was intriguing, not only the history of the inscriptions themselves but the history of the conservation of the inscriptions themselves.

Another unique question which was discussed at this event was the footprint of the Conservator. Should viewers and historians be aware of conservators’ interventions within the history of the object?  It was even asked- should a conservator always intervene? This was such an alluring topic, as so many treatments of the past have been done in good faith but certainly to the determent of the object or site itself; Portland Cement has kept a good many stone conservator in employment. Paul Wooles intriguingly discussed the merit of ferrous fixings, asking if  Conservators are too quick to remove them. Yes, I thought, they can be hazardous to stonework but at the same time, they are fabulous tell-tales for moisture movement and often part of the history of the object. Ending the conference was David Harkin from HES, speaking about ‘Cultural Heritage and Climate Change’. I have seen David speak before and he is always a delight, albeit his subject matter less cheery and optimistic. He manages to explain how climate breakdown impacts our everyday lives, but also how it will impact our historic building stock. This can be useful to raise the awareness of a modern conservator. Those treatments that worked in the past may not work now – due to our changing climate.

Although I have many colleagues, I am a one-man-band when it comes to the conservation and stone care at St. Magnus Cathedral. Conservation, in general, can involve quite a bit of solo work, so for me coming together with fellow professionals for a few days in September was much needed.  I have mentioned a few examples that really inspired me, but so many other little snippets have stuck with me – Christine Bläuer’s keynote advice on how to translate the meaning of your results to the stakeholders has helped me in my work. Christa Gerdwilker’s advice to take a holistic view and be able to question your approach has helped me too. A keynote tip from Sara Croft – that we should champion our profession and the skills, knowledge and judgment that we all bring to our own jobs was massively inspirational. Also Sara’s advice about setting out on the Accreditation process – don’t hold back there, get involved.

It was a wonderful few days and I would like to thank Christa Gerdwilker and her team for pulling together such an inspirational event.

Meredith Macbeth is the Stone Mason/Conservator at St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney. You can contact her at meredith.macbeth@orkney.gov.uk or on her sleepy twitter account @MeMacbeth.
Many thanks again to Christa Gerdwilker, ICON Scotland, Orkney Islands Council and the Friends of St. Magnus Cathedral for making this opportunity possible.

 

The Secret of Surfaces: Reflectance Transformation Imaging [RTI] – Training Course

Delivered by Marta Pilarska Scottish Maritime Museum

Date: 27th September 2019 10.30 am – 5 pm

Venue: The Conference Room, Museums Galleries Scotland, Waverley Gate, 2-4 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh

£ 35.00   regular tickets

£ 20.00   students

Book here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

RTI is a non-invasive imaging technique for documenting the surfaces of archaeological objects, intricately carved stonework, works of art or archive material.

Combining the data from many images of the object, RTI produces files that show the object’s surface interactively in detail. A special RTI Viewer software enables us to manipulate the light source within the image  – making us see the object lit from different angles. This creates a 3D effect of the virtual surface structure.

The RTI training course will show the possibilities of documentation for a range of objects and materials – from the mapping of archaeological artefacts to monitoring flaking paint layers or the growth of mould on archival documents, to detecting fine details of wax seals.

Marta Pilarska will take the attendees through the basic steps of taking RTI-compatible photographs, capturing and processing the images with the software to create interactive RTI image files.

Museum and heritage professionals, conservators and everyone interested in RTI are welcome.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptops and may bring their own objects to image. During the session, we will be able to capture 3-4 datasets and the final selection of objects to be documented will be made on the day of the event. However, pre-event consultations regarding suggested objects are encouraged. Original objects, whether works on paper or 3D objects are ideal although you might find less valuable (but still historic) artefacts easier to transport. Small to medium size historic objects from ‘handling collections’ are ideal.

Marta Pilarska is an artworks conservator and digital heritage specialist. Her professional interests focus on exploring how digital technologies combined with conservation science can aid heritage preservation.

This event has been generously supported by Museums Galleries Scotland and the Scottish Maritime Museum.


Paper Conservators in Scotland News and Ideas Exchange 2019

When: 12.45pm for 1pm start, Wednesday 15th May 2019
Where: The Board Room, National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge Edinburgh EH1 1EW
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.

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

Your topic might be about

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

Some of the many interesting topics presented last year included the treatment of photos, books, parchment and chocolate (!); decision making processes; a triumph in controlling a difficult environment; exhibition preparations; monitoring vibrations near a big building project; a nifty new piece of kit to cut infills – and so much more!

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 Mary Garner m.garner@nls.uk

The space is limited to about 40 people. We are hoping that up to 20 presentations will be given. Booking priority is given to people offering to present.

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 four years, will connect us better so we can continue to support and help each other in the future.

Events Questionnaire 2018

Last year’s event questionnaire was really useful to us, so once again, we would like to know what kind of training and events you’d particularly like to see in Scotland!

The survey will close on 20 January 2019. Please follow the link below and let us know what events you’d like us to host in Scotland next year! All comments and suggestions are welcome!

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/P3QFPN8

Call for Papers – Monuments in Monuments, 2019 Conference

Monuments in Monuments Conference, Monday 2 September to Wednesday 4 September 2019, the Engine Shed, Stirling

Are you a conservation professional? We’re inviting contributions for abstracts for our conference next year on the conservation of stone monuments and objects inside traditional buildings.

conference-engine-shed

About the conference

Our Monuments in Monuments Conference is an exciting, three-day international conference that offers the opportunity for conservation practitioners to network and share experiences.

The conference aims to examine the conservation of immobile stone monuments, structures or objects inside traditional buildings, and their conservation challenges.

Bringing together international conservation practitioners from across the world, we’ll explore innovative and traditional approaches to stone conservation inside traditional buildings. We’ll also examine whether a holistic conservation approach is possible.

We’re running the conference at our dedicated conservation centre in Stirling, the Engine Shed, and delegates will also have the opportunity to visit some of the most iconic heritage sites in Scotland to explore these issues first-hand.

The key themes

We’re inviting abstract submissions under these five key themes:

  • Investigation & survey: The role of imaging, heritage science, material characterisation and analysis
  • Creating a protective building envelope: Materials and design approaches to the external structure that supports the conservation of internal structures
  • Conservation challenges: Preventive and remedial conservation of sculptural elements inside historic spaces including:
    • Environmental control
    • Salt reduction
    • Controlling moisture ingress
    • Consolidation
    • Cleaning
    • Repair
  • Conservation in context: Use and adaptation of traditional buildings and their impact on internal monuments
  • Stakeholder engagement: The roles and responsibilities of communities, owners, visitors and other stakeholders to achieve sustainable conservation of a ‘living’ space

Get involved

We’re inviting abstracts from professionals who have an interest or expertise in stone conservation.

Your abstract should be:

  • No more than 300 words
  • Submitted in PDF format

If you’d like to submit an abstract, send all of the above to MiM2019@hes.scot by Thursday 31 January 2019. This is an extended deadline.

If your abstract is successful, you’ll be invited to submit a paper to present at our conference.

Please note our other deadlines:

Friday 22 February 2019: We’ll send notice of all successful abstracts

Tuesday 23 April: Deadline for full papers

Friday 31 May: Papers reviewed and returned to authors for final amendments

Friday 14 June: Receipt of finalised papers

Book your tickets and get more information here.

MIM

Golden notes: comments on the Icon 2018 Practical Gilding Course

This week’s blog comes from Daniel Sanchez Villavicencio, PhD student in History of Art, who recently attended the 3-day Practical Gilding Course organised by Icon Scotland in September 2018…

As part of the activities organised by the Scotland Group of the Institute of Conservation (Icon), the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History (CTCTAH), University of Glasgow had the privilege to host a 3-day practical gilding course, between the 3rd and 5th of September 2018. Taught by the Head Frames Conservator of the Royal Museums Greenwich, Tim Ritson, and attended by a diverse group of 11 conservators and 2 students from Australia, Canada, England, France, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland and Wales, the course aimed to familiarise the participants with the materials and techniques of the two traditional methods of gilding: water based, and oil based.

Conservator Tim Ritson applying a layer of white size (diluted rabbit skin glue with chalk). Image credit: Daniel Sanchez

Conservator Tim Ritson applying a layer of white size (diluted rabbit skin glue with chalk). Image credit: Daniel Sanchez

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NCS Conference Series – ‘Passive Aggressive?’

The National Conservation Service (NCS) is very pleased to announce the third of four conferences called ‘Passive Aggressive? – Changing the Climate in Archival and Museum Storage’.  The first two events in July, one hosted at The National Archives (UK) and the second at National Library of Wales hosted by CyMAL, were very well attended and well received.  All four are being generously sponsored by Bruynzeel Storage Systems Ltd, in order to make the conferences free to delegates.

We are delighted that The National Galleries of Scotland and the Icon Scotland Group have offered to partner with us to provide the third of these conferences, to be held at the Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh on the 20th of September 2018 from 10:00 until 17:00.

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Parchment Conservation Workshop

Location: National Library of Scotland, 33 Salisbury Place, Edinburgh EH9 1SL

Date: 22-23 November 2018

Time: 09:00-17:00 each day

Tickets: Icon Members £150, Non-Icon Members £180

Booking through Eventbrite

This course will be delivered by Lara Artemis ACR and Mariluz Beltran de Guevara ACR, and will involve a mixture of taught and practical sessions.

Introduction to the history of materials and techniques in parchment conservation

This session will include an overview of the early history of parchment conservation and will give participants an opportunity to try out the range of techniques and the materials applied through the years up to the present day. The session will also encourage discourse on the various preservation issues that may have since been created through the use of some of the materials and techniques. This will then take the practical session towards current theory into practice, which will include the evolution of more appropriate materials and techniques, especially in view of our greater understanding of the preservation needs of parchment.

Parchment conservation and preservation in the 21st Century

This session will include an overview of some of the current practices in parchment conservation, with specific focus on practical analysis and remoistenable techniques and materials. You will also have the chance to undertake parchment mounting techniques.  Again, the session will encourage discussion on future thinking and the challenges that may be ahead of us as specialist conservators.

There are 15 places available and tickets cost £150 for Icon members and £180 for non-members.  Ticket price includes lunch and refreshments. Sales go live on 2 July and close on 20 November at 17:00 or whenever the event sells out.

Refund policy: Refunds will be given up to 30 days before the event

Questions about this event can be emailed to Isobel Griffin (i.griffin@nls.uk)

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.

Gilding 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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