How does it feel to be an intern at the National Library of Scotland?

Thinking about conservation volunteering in Scotland? Find out what it’s like to volunteer at the National Library in Scotland in this article by Marie Renaudin, conservation student from Lyon, France… 

It was kind of hard to find a proper title to this article, I have to admit. How to strike people when you just want to tell everyone how fortunate you are to be an intern in book and paper conservation at the NLS? (Well no, they did not pay me to say that…). As the end is coming soon now, I was lucky to be asked to write a little something on the ICON blog about my impression. The story begins 5 years ago, on my first year of BA in conservation-restoration in Lyon (France), the time when I applied to do a three-month internship at the NLS. I wanted so much to be able to work with this place of great treasures one day that I decided to apply at the very beginning of my studies. As you can imagine, great place cannot stay secret for long, and unfortunately there was no space within 4 years. As my motivation was stronger than ever I have asked if I could be offered my candidature 4 years in advance – that is something we normally don’t do, and with a happy surprise they agreed!

Tear mending in the Ms.3.1.12, National Library of Scotland

Tear mending in the Ms.3.1.12, National Library of Scotland

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Hill House, Helensburgh

In the first of a series of blog posts about the major project to conserve Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh. Hazel Neill writes about her visit there to meet Business Manager, Fritha Costain on 20thAugust 2018


Hill House was built between 1902-1904, high above the town with views south over the Firth of Clyde. In an example of ‘Total Design’ Mackintosh spent three months living with his clients, the Blackie family, in order to perfect his vision and plan every detail of the exterior and interior fittings and furniture. The house has had two private owners before being taken over by the Architects Society of Scotland and finally acquired by The National Trust for Scotland in 1985.


Before going inside the house, Fritha gave me some background history and outlined some of the inherent structural issues that have been a permanent problem since the building was completed; the greatest being the nature of the construction materials and their constant contact with water…of which there is no shortage in the west coast of Scotland. Indeed, the site, a former potato field with a heavy clay soil, is situated directly beneath a reservoir and at times of heavy rain, water has been seen running through the cellar space.


In compliance of the strictures of the Luss Estate, Hill House was constructed of red sandstone from their quarry with additional sections of the building built with brick, as seen above.  A pioneer in the use of innovative technology and materials, Mackintosh eschewed traditional lime render harling and opted for the use of Portland cement render instead.

Frost cracks in this extremely hard, impermeable material have allowed water to permeate and soak into the sandstone since the building was constructed. Over time the dew point within the stone may also have shifted towards the interior of the building creating serious problems with condensation and damp.

Since the National Trust for Scotland took over the care of the building various interventions have been undertaken to address this problem with differing levels of success. Then, in 2015, it was decided that rather than continue with a repair programme it would be far better to initiate a research and development project. The following year Edinburgh based firm, LDN Architects were appointed and the idea of ‘The Box’ was formed.


The Box is a £4.5 million project designed to allow the building to dry out and conservation work to be undertaken. It will be up for a maximum of ten years during which time a research project lasting approximately three years will be carried out. The Box will encase the building and extend up to 2.5 metres around it. It is constructed of a firm steel structure covered in a chain mail of steel mesh with a solid roof. The mesh will allow airflow and insects to circulate but will prevent free water and birds from getting in. It is likely that Hill House will remain visible through The Box in certain lighting conditions, though this remains to be seen.

Rather than prevent access, this project plans to combine conservation with the visitor experience by including a visitor centre on three floors and walkways around and over the top of the building, thereby enhancing appreciation of the house and increasing public awareness of the conservation issues and, as the project progresses, of the solutions developed.

The National Trust for Scotland conservation and architectural heritage teams will seek consultation from conservation professionals, both nationally and internationally, and it is possible that the project may lead to the development of new materials and techniques.


Initial treatments may involve removal of the harling [only 25% of which is believed to be original], installing heating to move the dew point within the sandstone, addressing issues with some of the windows and improving the drainage across the site. Some of the key elements of the collection have been removed and housed offsite.

Officially closed at present, Hill House will re-open in Spring next year.

Thank you to Fritha Costain and The National Trust for Scotland for a fascinating visit.


The Secret of Surfaces. Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) – Training Course

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The Secret of Surfaces – Eventbrite link

Delivered by Marta Pilarska, Historic Environment Scotland

28th September, 10.00 am – 5 pm

The Green Room, Stirling Castle, Castle Esplanade, Stirling FK8 1EJ

£10.00 regular tickets

£8.00  students

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.

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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 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.

Participants bringing their own laptop are asked to make sure their laptops are PAT tested!

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.

A visit to The Scottish Conservation Studio



The drive to Hopetoun House -possibly the most beautiful commute to work in existence.

The Scottish Conservation Studio has been in existence for thirteen years. Previously, Helen Creasy, Tuula Pardoe and Will Murray were employed by the Scottish Museum Council [now, ‘Museums Galleries Scotland’] in Edinburgh, their work restricted to member museums only. Faced with redundancy in 2005, they decided to set up in partnership and began looking for a suitable studio. Having trawled around various business units, a call came through from Hopetoun House Preservation Trust…would they be interested in renting a purpose converted conservation studio at Hopetoun? …and so the dye was cast.

Hopetoun House, an 18th century stately home near South Queensferry, set in a deer park on the banks of the Forth has Georgian interiors filled with tapestries, fine period furniture, paintings, clocks, books and all manner of historic collections. HHPT in an effort to find a use for the redundant carriage house and to provide a working space for the long established team of voluntary ‘Tapestry Ladies’, had carefully and cleverly converted the building into a large, adaptable studio with a floodable floor for washing tapestries and flexible working space over two main rooms.

The arrangement between The Scottish Conservation Studio and HHPT is mutually advantageous: the conservators care for the Hopetoun House collections as part of their rent, as well as undertaking work for a much broader client base than was possible at the Scottish Museum Council.

Helen and Tuula work in the main rooms, sharing the large washing room once a week with the Tapestry Ladies. Will works in the former ‘tack and harness rooms’, a separate space to isolate the inevitable dust and debris produced in conserving metal away form the paper and textiles next door.  These rooms remain largely unadapted, evidence of their former use in the hooks around the paneled walls.

On the day of my visit, Helen was working with freelance paper conservator Anna Trist  and student conservator Leonie Rok from Stuttgart.

They were working on a variety objects ranging from ambrotypes, a form of early photograph, to Charles Rennie Mackintosh watercolours on tracing paper. Tuula was working on a beautiful mid 18th century chaise longue from Hopetoun House; the original pink silk upholstery shattered and incredibly fragile having been exposed to natural light for over two hundred years. It appeared that in some places only the warp threads remained. Conservation was well underway, the silk threads supported on a piece of carefully dyed fabric and protected with similarly dyed net.

Will explained the breadth of materials and objects that he works with from the ancient to the relatively modern, his ongoing work with various Scottish War Memorials, often funded by the War Memorials Trust, and his work on an early anchor discovered in the Solway Firth. He explained the use of carbon dating of iron, made possible through traces of charcoal remaining within the metal from the smelting process.


It was a really fascinating visit, many thanks to all at The Scottish Conservation Studio.

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.


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.



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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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