We’ve all got them. A box full of photographs waiting to be pulled out and rehoused on a rainy day; personal treasures wrapped in tissue at the back of a drawer. Passed down through time, the tales these objects embody are hugely significant to the family members who share them, as well as to the broader community. Along with museum-worthy items, these objects are part of the Australian story.
The Bathurst Heritage Trades Trail is a place for people to share stories, and to have their personal histories, experiences and skills celebrated. In May, Grimwade Centre students and graduates headed north to take part in the Trades Trail, where a steady stream of archivists, librarians, families and home historians visited our stand for discussions on preventive conservation and demonstrations of simple cleaning techniques to care for paper, photographs, textiles, paintings, metals and ceramics.
We were delighted to be reunited with people who visited the Trades Trail last year, and came by with new objects and stories to share. Some wanted to learn techniques to care for silverware handed down from their grandparents to be kept safe and handed on to their own grandchildren. An agricultural researcher, who did her PhD on Australian sheep breeds, offered species identification advice and a potential date range for an historical photograph based on the local ram’s substantial facial wool. A gentleman told of 8mm films he took when younger, yet to be shown to family members due to a broken projector; here discussions on digitisation intermingled with fond memories of holidays at the beach in the 1930s.
Films of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, taken in 1960s Vietnam and now affected by ‘vinegar syndrome’, highlighted the need for practical conservation information to reach regional areas. The films are housed in a fridge, though not yet digitised. Students noted that the will to conserve is there for many, but the way forward is not always obvious.
Bookending the Trades Trail, the 2019 Bathurst Conservation Heritage Showcase rounded out the run of projects undertaken by Grimwade Centre students and emerging conservators in Bathurst over the past two years. Funded by a NSW Government Community Heritage – Peak Organisations Grant, the pilot project has certainly shown the value of a sustained conservation presence within local government and the community. Some highlights identified by Bathurst Council and the Historical Society include:
- Chifley Home floor furnishings assessment, Chinese tapestry and linen rehousing projects
- Bathurst District Historical Society store refurbishment and collection re-housing
- Bathurst War Memorial Carillon operating gear assessment, and assessment of numerous public artworks across the city
- Bathurst Regional Art Gallery RE-ORG project
- Public facing events as part of the 2018 Sustainable Living Expo
- Heritage Trades Trail demonstrations in 2018 and 2019
This year three workshops, open to members of the public, allowed participants to be actively involved in deciding how best to care for their textiles, photographs and paper-based objects. Paper Conservation 101 offered a hands-on workshop on how to care for letters, sheet music and other items, and finished with participants making an archival folder for the items they brought along. The Textiles Care Workshop at Chifley Home, led by conservator Victoria Thomas, gave tailored individual advice on looking after the textiles brought in by participants, followed by a padded coat hanger making session – always a bit of crowd pleaser with textile lovers! And a PhotographRehousing Workshop kick-started conversations on local history and how to rehouse that errant box of photographs.
The 2019 Bathurst Conservation Heritage Showcase and Bathurst Heritage Trades Trail were generously funded by the NSW Government Environment and Heritage grant, and supported by
The Copland Foundation.