Contributions to the 6th AICCM Book, Paper & Photographic Materials Symposium. 17-19th November 2010, Melbourne. p14


In 1948 Charles P Mountford led 17 scientists and support staff from America and Australia on an expedition to conduct ethnological, medical, nutritional and natural history research from what was purported to be ‘Stone Age’ Arnhem Land. Over 500 paintings were commissioned and collected during the expedition, of which at least a fifth were painted on paper due to a shortage in supply of bark. This collection of paintings was divided between America and Australia, and within Australia is now shared between ten institutions. Preliminary investigation of the paintings on paper identified materials, techniques and treatments through analysis of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) works and research of expedition archives. Recent research has brought to light new information suggesting more than one application and type of fixative was applied to the collection before it was divided, resulting in further analysis. All known works on paper from the expedition in institutions across Australia were viewed and a trip to Arhnem Land was undertaken to visit the Aboriginal communities at Gunbalanya, Yirrkala and Groote Eylandt where the works were collected. Colour transparencies of some of the paintings taken in the field in 1948 were located in the expedition archives, confirming the change in colour evident in most of the works on paper and highlighting the importance of preserving the few where the original colour is still evident. In collaboration with the National Museum of Australia, the AGNSW has been fortunate to take advantage of the Microfading Test System to formulate guidelines for safe display. This paper will present recent research with a focus on guidelines for care and display.


6th Book, Paper and Photographs Symposium, 2010
Paper author:
Sarah Bunn