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

 

ISG Committee Away Day

Hazel Neill, the newest member of the Icon Scotland Group Committee, describes the group’s recent away day to Kelvin Hall in this week’s blog post….

A Glasgow institution, Kelvin Hall has been the setting for every conceivable cultural and sporting event since it first opened in 1927. It is entirely fitting therefore [its former purpose having been usurped by new facilities across the city] that it should be re-developed as a repository for collections from the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, Glasgow Museums and the National Library of Scotland, as well as retaining its services as a sporting centre.

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Photographic Preservation Training

The ICON Scotland Group, in collaboration with partner organisations, is offering a training day for heritage staff who work with small to medium sized photographic collections.

A few spaces are still available at the workshops in Aberdeen and Brora. Tickets are only £15 each, so book now to avoid missing out! http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/icon-scotland-group-8017964603?s=37146159

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Best of the Blogs – February

This week are launching a new monthly feature; the Best of the Blogs! Every month we will scour the internet for interesting and quirky conservation articles posted in Scotland and abroad, then round them up in one article for your delectation and delight. The first, and rather macabre, edition in this series brings you articles on gravestones, mummified monks and more…

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Collecting the Referendum: Preserving Plastic Propaganda

Only six months on from the Scottish independence referendum, and conservators at the National Library of Scotland are already considering the best way to preserve material produced by the two opposing political campaigns. Paper Conservator, Shona Hunter, discusses the difficulties in conserving this modern collection in this week’s blog…

I began working as a conservator at the National Library of Scotland in March 2014. I am part of a team of qualified professionals who carry out remedial treatments, create specialist housing, monitor and control storage environments and train staff and readers on the handling of manuscripts and books. We also prepare items for exhibition and loan. Historic items receive attention as do ephemeral materials which reflect modern life.

The National Library of Scotland is based in Edinburgh, my hometown. I moved back just in time to cast my vote in the referendum on Scottish Independence. Since then I have become involved with repackaging a sample of referendum related paraphernalia. After acquiring some banners, placards and signs, the referendum curator got in touch because she was concerned about the best way to protect and store these items.

Shona Hunter with some modern items from the referendum collection

Shona Hunter with some modern items from the referendum collection

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A Conservator Abroad….Japan

This week’s article comes from Elizabeth Hepher, a paper conservator at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), who recently travelled to Japan to take part in a three week course on Japanese paper conservation.

International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper – JPC 2014

From the 25th August until the 12th September 2014 I joined ten paper conservators from around the world to attend the International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper. The course was organised by The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and hosted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Tokyo (NRICPT) and has been running in Japan for the last 20 years.

Aim of the course

The aim of the course was to give conservators an in-depth understanding into the materials and techniques that make up Japanese works of art on paper and their associated paper conservation. The format of the course combined lectures and practical work, with the outcome being the participants learning how to make a hand scroll. The practical work was complemented by a one week study tour. Lectures were all in Japanese and with English provided by a translator.

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Creating Conservation: Plenderleith Memorial Lecture

Last week, on the 25th January, Scotland celebrated the life and work of one of its most famous poets, Robert Burns. In this week’s post, we celebrate the life of another great Scot, Dr Harold Plenderleith…

Every year, in November, the Icon Scotland Group hosts a lecture in honour of Dr Harold Plenderleith. But who exactly is Plenderleith and what does he have to do with conservation in Scotland? That was the subject of last year’s illuminating lecture entitled “Creating Conservation – Harold Plenderleith’s Life and Legacy” by Gaël de Guichen. De Guichen travelled from Rome to present his reflections on the influence of Dr Harold Plenderleith, a man considered to have pioneered the conservator’s approach to conservation. De Guichen (Adviser to the Director General of ICCROM) began his career in conservation with an internship under the supervision Plenderleith in the 1960s and the two remained friends until his death, so he was ideally placed to discuss his mentor’s impact in the conservation field.

Gaël de Guichen speaking at the 17th Annual Plenderleith Memorial Lecture

Gaël de Guichen speaking at the 17th Annual Plenderleith Memorial Lecture

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Calling all Conservators!

D..d..d..drum roll please! The Icon Scotland Group is proud to present its brand new blog! A space for conservators to find out about heritage-related projects and events in Scotland and connect with conservation professionals all over the country. Over the next few weeks we will be posting articles about a wide range of topics; the conservation of musical instruments, the separation of albumen prints, the decay of stone, the experiences of a Scottish conservator in Toyko, as well as reviews of recent training events and lectures in Scotland. Sign up now to get new posts delivered direct to your inbox by clicking the ‘follow me’ button on the right hand side.

If you want to join in the fun and write an article, get in touch! We welcome submissions from conservation professionals in all disciplines at every career stage. Guidelines for articles and information on how to submit can be found in the guidelines tab above. It is hoped that by sharing knowledge and experiences in this blog, connections can be made across disciplines and institutions to form a strong conservation community in Scotland.

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