Newsletter Issue Number:
AICCM National Newsletter No 147 September 2019
MaryJo Lelyveld, Coordinating Conservator, NGV; Sarah Bunn, Paper Conservator AGNSW; Carolyn Murphy, Head of Conservation, AGNSW; and Julian Bickersteth, CEO ICS

The AICCM community has held a number of events for ADFAS members recognising their generous support of discrete preservation projects such as the hanging of the John Coburn theatre curtains at Sydney Opera House, and for their ongoing support of professional development. These events included lectures and tours for ADFAS member events held at Sydney Opera House, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria.

ADFAS Conservation tour at Sydney Opera House

ADFAS generously supported the temporary hanging of the John Coburn theatre curtains at Sydney Opera House on 21 May. These magnificent curtains known as the Curtain of the Sun and the Curtain of the Moon were commissioned for the opening of the Opera House in 1973 but, due to a range of issues, have spent much of their lives in storage. Julian Bickersteth has been working with the Opera House on a long term program to see them more regularly displayed and was able to brief a private tour of ADFAS members on their conservation and display. 

Julian Bickersteth, CEO of International Conservation Services discusses the preservation treatment undertaken to enable display of the John Coburn theatre curtains.

ASDFAS – AICCM Tour at the Art Gallery of New South Wales 

On Wednesday 10th July, 35 ADFAS members from regional and interstate areas came on a ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour of the Conservation Department at AGNSW. They were met by conservator Sarah Bunn who gave an introductory talk, then spilt into groups so they could visit the labs and spend time with conservators talking about their current projects.

Asti Sherring talked about the conservation of time-based art and the development of this new area of conservation specialisation, focusing on the issues associated with obsolete technologies and digital preservation.  Simon Ives spoke about the restoration of Carlo Cignani’s seventeenth century baroque painting The Five Senses generously supported by conservation benefactors, Manny and Gail Pohl. Margaret Sawicki and Genevieve Tobin spoke about the treatment of frames for paintings by Julian Ashton and Howard Ashton in preparation for the 2020 travelling exhibition Fieldwork, and about the major restoration of the frame for the Cignani painting. Analiese Treacy discussed the preparation of Christo photographs and collage models of the wrapped coast for the exhibition, 50 Years of Kaldor Projects, and the challenges of dealing with contemporary art.

ASDFAS – AICCM Lecture at the National Gallery of Victoria

On Wednesday 24th July, over 150 ADFAS members attended the ‘Behind the Scenes’ short series of lectures by the NGV Painting Conservation team to hear about the scope of preventive and remedial conservation activities, highlighting current projects. Senior Paintings Conservator, Carl Villis discussed the development of treatment of the NGV paintings collection which began with early artist-restorers in the late 19th century (see Varcoe-Cocks, 2008) and explained the underlying ethos of contemporary approaches to paintings treatment. Cailtin Breare discussed the structural and cosmetic treatment of Nicolas de Largillierres’ Portrait of a Lady 1705) and Thomas Clark’s Wannon Falls (c.1860).

Raye Collins, Conservator of Paintings, discussed the importance of using analytical techniques such as FT-IR and UV lighting to understand artist working methods and inform approaches to treatment citing Jeffrey Smart and John Brack case studies. Raymonda Rajkowski discussed the variability of working methods used by contemporary artists and the importance of artist archives and artist questionnaires for helping inform preservation and interventions strategies.

Caitlin Breare, Conservator of Paintings discusses examination and structural treatment carried out on an early C18th French portrait.

Q&A with NGV Painting conservators at the AICCM-ADFAS event that drew over 150 ADFAS members

ADFAS Support Continues

Through the ADFAS Patricia Robertson fund, AICCM members and conservation students have been awarded over $40,000 towards supporting professional development opportunities. In addition to providing two student awards annually to graduates of the Grimwade Centre conservation course here at the University of Melbourne and the Cultural Heritage program at the University of Canberra, ADFAS has supported the travel of international technical specialists to provide workshops on the Conservation of Prints, Conservation of Plastics and the application of Reflectance Transformation Imaging for collection documentation.

Through the mid-career ADFAS Patricia Robertson scholarship program (a one of its kind for conservators in Australia) leading AICCM members have had the opportunity to present at international conferences in the USA and Europe on: ‘Preparing for Disaster and Confronting the Unexpected in Conservation’; ‘Saving the Now: Crossing Boundaries to Conserve Contemporary Works’ and the International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East.

ADFAS Chair of the Patricia Robertson Fund, Julia Gamble noted that the feedback she had received from ADFAS members was very positive and they look forward to holding similar events in the coming years with confirmation that they will be continuing the partnership for another three years.

We would like to recognise the support of Julian Bickersteth in instituting this ADFAS Patricia Robertson sponsorship program and Kay Söderlund for initiating the ADFAS AICCM partnered events.