In early August, I escaped the Canberra winter and headed for sunny Los Angeles to attend a 5 day course at the Getty Villa on colour photography.
I have done similar training in the past, but thought it was time for a refresher, and was lucky enough to be offered a place.
Sylvie Pénichon was the principal instructor with support from Janka Krizanova from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava and Tram Vo from the Getty Conservation Institute.
The participants were from the United States, Mexico, Portugal, Canada, Scotland, Poland, Australia, Argentina and Israel.
Morning sessions were always an introduction to a new colour process – additive, pigment prints, dye imbibition, dye destruction, chromogenic and dye diffusion. Thank goodness I had some previous knowledge, or I would have been left well behind. One of the other participants had read Sylvie’s book from cover to cover as an introduction to the topic. That’s dedication!
The afternoon sessions were devoted to practicums – identification, surface cleaning, infilling, inpainting, edge lining, hinging etc. The teaching facilities at the Getty Villa are awesome – microscopes for every table, endless supplies of whatever material you needed, a dedicated wet lab, and access to the antiquities collection in the Villa every lunchtime. Amazing.
These practical sessions were always wrapped up with a discussion of what worked and what didn’t. Of course, as with all conservation treatments, some techniques worked for some people and exactly the same technique would not work for others. I discovered my hands on skills have left the building. Teaching and mentoring for me from now on.
Wednesday afternoon we were treated to a behind the scenes visit to the Getty Photography Collection. It was fantastic to see original prints in original formats by famous artists. No photos allowed here, so it remains my little memory treasure.
Of course, there was a reception, staged on a balcony at the Getty Centre overlooking LA. Tough times. The course was extremely informative and instructive. If it runs again, you should all go. When I get my act together, I will host an echo course here at the NAA over three days.
Assistant Director, Preservation, National Archives of Australia