Proceedings of the AICCM TSIG Symposium, Sydney, Australia 19 to 22 May, 2016
The exhibition Gods, Heroes and Clowns: Performance and Narrative in South and Southeast Asian Art, curated by Carol Cains, showcased numerous textile based artworks from embroidered and painted narrative hangings to miniature garments on three dimensional wooden puppets. This paper focuses on the conservation and display preparation of a Thai/Laotian hand painted 40m textile scroll depicting the Vessantara Jataka, dated 1958, and acquired in 2013 from a private owner in two parts. One part had been conserved prior to acquisition and the other was in a fragile state with numerous losses and tears.
The curator identified that two sections of the narrative were missing from the length of the scroll, and it was desirable that a method of integrating these losses be achieved for visual and aesthetic continuity. Anthropologist Leedom Lefferts was consulted by the curator regarding appropriate imagery to be reproduced for the missing sections and the NGV’s imaging technician, Philip White, assisted greatly in lending his skills to achieving these.
The installation of this 40m scroll covered three walls of a gallery space at a height of four metres and required conservators to devise novel systems to realise this sweeping exhibition design. The techniques employed to support the fragile section, integrate missing sections with digital print infills and the challenges with install will be discussed in detail.