Ian Batterham, National Newsletter Editor


International Conservation Services


Over the last few months Matteo Volonte and Claire Heasman have been working on collections galore, busy cleaning and re-stretching a collection of Aboriginal artworks. They were also charged with re-housing a rare and beautiful collection of Aboriginal bark paintings, which were a joy to behold. Adam Godijn has been leading the team treating a large collection of religious paintings for mould and will continue work in the church.

Adam Godijn and Arek Werstak have been conserving a large coat of arms in central Melbourne. The Melbourne weather made outdoor gilding a challenge and many a piece of gold leaf sailed off into the CBD, hopefully adding some sparkle to someone else’s day.

Katy Ross from our objects and outdoor heritage team has been busy working on several large projects, including treatment of sculptures by Stephen Walker and Bim Hilder, and dismantling of the Anzac Parade Obelisk in preparation for conservation and eventual reinstallation to a new location. Meanwhile, Karina Acton (with assistance from Wendi Powell and various other members of the team) completed a complicated treatment of a Winged Victory sculpture for the Australian War Memorial.

Karina will be joining Julian Bickersteth to establish a major archaeological conservation project in the UAE in November. This will run for at least three years and we hope will create opportunities for Australian conservators to gain experience in this area.

Our paper conservation team has just finished working on a large collection of artworks by various Australian artists and continue to work on a number of plans of various shapes and sizes.

Oliver Hull and Eoin O’Sullivan have been taking a small break from their usual furniture conservation projects, to work on two large cannons, which had been unearthed from a shipwreck. The cannons required extensive work including recoring of the bores, and the creation of individual wax baths, which was a difficult procedure considering one cannon weighed close to 300 kg.


Nine ICS staff seized the opportunity of attending ICOM CC and made the most of being in Melbourne, much enjoying the new friends, new networks and new ideas that it generated. Julian then went onto IIC in Hong Kong, whilst Eliza Penrose attended the Conservation of Photographs Masterclass in Canberra the week after ICOM CC.

David Stein & Co.


Sian Griffiths has performed a facial reconstruction on a portrait painting with a complex tear across the sitter’s eye. After a complex tear repair and transparent lining, Sian worked from grainy photographs of the original to restore the young lady’s features. Selina Halim undertook a challenging thread-by-thread repair on a large complex tear on a painting by Arthur Streeton. After three full weeks under the microscope she achieved an almost invisible repair and a great result. Stephanie Limoges has worked on a very large damaged acrylic canvas by David Van Nunen for a university collection, including cleaning, consolidations, fills and in-painting of losses. Helen Gill has worked with us for the month of October as Project Conservator to complete the final stage of structural treatment of an oversized 18th century canvas.


David and Katherine have been working with Lynn Chua, conservation research student at the University of Technology Sydney, on analysis of paint samples for the identification of pigments and mediums on paintings.

Katherine, in conjunction with software developers, has designed a new software program for conservation management. Dubbed ‘Artemis’, it is a comprehensive treatment database and client management system.


David, Katherine and Selina all attended the ICOM-CC conference held in Melbourne in September. We found it to be very informative and enjoyable, and were impressed by the breadth of topics covered. We are feeling encouraged to present and publish in the future!

Powerhouse Museum


Faith Fashion Fusion: Muslim women’s style in Australia, an exhibition on contemporary Muslim dress, opened at the Museum of the Riverina in Wagga Wagga, the first stop on its national tour. Suzanne Chee with a small Powerhouse team installed the exhibition into the Museum’s Council Chambers building. Supported by a grant from Visions Australia, the exhibition will travel to Geraldton, Katanning, Kalgoorlie, Albury, Maitland and Fairfield Museum over the next two years.

For the past year Skye Mitchell has coordinated and worked tirelessly on preparing objects for A Fine Possession: Jewellery and identity which opened to the public in September 2014. Sue Gatenby carried out XRF analysis for many of the objects to provide accurate descriptions for the labels. On display are many styles, materials and manufacturing practices ranging from antiquity to the present day. With over 30 institutional lenders we would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped bring this collection of over 700 pieces together.

The Powerhouse galleries are currently undergoing sweeping changes. New showcases have been purchased for storage display exhibitions in a series called Recollect. The first display of decorative arts objects will be the Museum’s distinguished collection of shoes spanning the 17th century to present day. A collection of shoe lasts which will be used as props were treated with tea tree oil fumigant to sterilise them from a  mould infestation and also assist in the removal of an unpleasant damp odour.


The Castle Hill redevelopment is underway and is being managed by Carey Ward. There has been a lot of movement of the collection because some stores have been demolished to make way for new buildings. Final facilities will provide a shared storage facility with Australian Museum and Sydney Living Museums, a floor for cold storage and a refurbished nitrogen fumigation chamber.


Sue attended the AICCM and CAMD public lecture on Sustainability and Environmental Standards for Cultural Collections 14 September 2014 held at the University of Melbourne.

Vanessa Pitt, Sue and Suzanne contributed two posters for ICOM-CC 17th Triennial Conference in Melbourne in September: Vanessa presented her battery survey project poster, while Sue and Suzanne’s poster described the storage solution for deteriorating polyurethane (ES) fibres.

State Library of NSW


The State Library of NSW’s Collection Care branch has had a very busy week de-installing and installing exhibitions.  Life Interrupted: Personal Diaries from World War I and Portraits of War: The Crown Studios Project were very well received by the public.  These shows were replaced by Don McCullin: The Impossible Peace, a collection of photographs on war and landscapes that have come to us on loan from Contact Press Images, Paris.  Continuing the theme, we now have Remember me: the lost diggers of Vignacourt, on loan from The Australian War Memorial in Canberra. 

Opening on 1 November is an exhibition of original Lynley Dodd drawings.  This exhibition will be shown in the Mitchel exhibition rooms, a space newly renovated for use as gallery space.  Also opening on 1 November is Shopkeepers of Newtown, a collection of photographs by Nic Bezzina.

Conservator Kate Hughes made a startling discovery: she uncovered this bird sketch while undertaking backing removals on a significant collection of First Fleet era botanical watercolours. The sketch, found under a thick layer of animal glue on the verso, is clearly by a different hand as can be seen in the photograph.


Conservator Wendy Richards has started rehousing the coins from the Library’s Dixson Numismatic Collection.  Previously, the coins were housed in PVC albums and sealed with sticky tape, which has deteriorated over time.  The coins are being cleaned and re-housed into individual Mylar pockets. With 1385 coins to treat, Wendy and her band of helpers have become BFF with the fume hood.

Preservation Australia


The studio has been full to bursting with treatments and space became very competitive! This is mainly due to concurrent treatment of some large items – a Lichtenstein screenprint, Elwyn Lynn collages and Lands and Property Information plans (of course!). Kay Soderlund also worked on a large, very damaged and fragile pastel portrait from a prominent historic collection.

Beate Yule worked on the backing removals of another set of WB Griffith plans as well as a large, fragile etching which proved to be a challenge every step of the way! It had been attached to a plywood board and required a facing to remove it from the board. Beate experimented with using Klug Albertina Poultice and was able to use the enzyme poultice for a gentle removal of the facing.

Tegan Anthes has been assisting the Powerhouse Museum / Sydney Observatory with a large cleaning and re-housing project of astronomical glass plates. This has been a long-ongoing project including removal from Macquarie University and establishing procedures for the cleaning and re-housing of more than 15,000 glass plates.


Kay and Beate both attended ICOM-CC in Melbourne (while Tegan was swanning about in France) which we found very stimulating – good shopping too.


Australian War Memorial


Alana Treasure, William Sit, Kristyn Bullen and David Keany in the Paintings lab have now finished work on the First World War Gallery paintings. The largest of these was our iconic painting ANZAC The Landing 1915 by George Lambert. The treatment of this very large painting, which included restretching, was undertaken in the Treloar C warehouse amongst the Memorial’s aircraft. Kathryn Ferguson rejoined the conservation team part-time in September for the preparation of the Will Longstaff’s painting Menin Gate at Midnight. This work is now on loan at the Canadian War Museum after having travelled on board a RAAF C-17 aircraft with the Menin Gate Lions.

The Dioramas team of Alana , Emily Mulvihill and Nick Flood are happily putting the finishing touches on the eighteen dioramas that will grace the redeveloped First World War Galleries. This is the culmination of over two years of treatment.

Nick Zihrul felt the warmth of the spotlight in a recent media moment. He showed the press the results of his recent treatment of our newly acquired work on paper by Horace Moore-Jones. Teresa Duhigg is busy with photographic and book conservation treatment.

Preventive conservators Elisa McKenna, Marina Horvath and Linda Eveston are organising the logistics of the conservation of outdoor sculptures in the Memorial’s grounds in addition to their routine collection care. Marie Swan is involved with the duties of the freezer program.

The Objects lab’s Jen Brian and Claire Champion were involved in the sombre task of condition reporting 43 marble sculptures by the artist Alex Seton. Each work has the shape of a folded prayer cloth and represents one of the 43 Australian combat deaths in Afghanistan. In the past month Redgum’s gold record I Was Only Nineteen passed over Eileen Procter’s bench. In a joint effort between ICS and the Memorial, Andrew Schroeder has put the final touches on the Winged Victory sculpture in the First World War Galleries. 

In the Large Technology lab Ainslie Grainer, Dean Willis, Jamie Crocker, Mark Aitken, Kim Wood and Martin Tanti are very busy preparing three large artillery pieces for outdoor display. Volunteer of 3,000 hours, Brian Ewens, is currently involved in the internal fit out of the Lockheed Hudson bomber.  

Ian Fulton, Yupha Nanteau and Thomas Fanning of the Photography lab have been transferring images in a process where water damaged and shrunk negatives are stretched out and placed on gelatine coated polyester film. Once complete these images are scanned and available for access.

The Textiles lab, particularly Sarah Clayton and Lilly Vermeesch, are working closely with Thylacine Design dressing dozens of mannequins for the redeveloped First World War Galleries. Jessie Firth is dressing an ‘invisible horse’. Cathy Chanellor and Bridie Kirkpatrick have overseen the installation of the ‘real’ taxidermy horse and camel. Karen Wilcox was on leave in October while she studies towards her Master’s degree at the University of Melbourne.

In her new role as Manager, Heritage Preservation Projects, Barbara Reeve has been working on projects including a long-term development for collection storage and display, analysing collection growth trends and sending the Menin Gate Lions and Will Longstaff’s painting Menin Gate at Midnight to the Canadian War Museum (see


Nick Zihrul, with curator Alex Torrens, have a feature article, “Partisan Eagles and Fascist Donkeys: Soviet Posters”, in the current issue of Imprint, the quarterly journal of the Print Council of Australia. Nick Flood is applying a photographic technique (Reflectance Transformation Imaging or RTI) to document inscriptions found on collection objects. He is currently photographing a Second World War Japanese Type 95 Ha-Go Light Tank. This tank sat on the side of a road in Milne Bay, New Guinea. As Australian soldiers passed by, many signed their names by scratching into the tank’s paintwork. The RTI technique can show details of these inscriptions in a way that conventional photography cannot.


The redeveloped First World War Galleries will open to the public on 1 December this year after being closed for 18 months.

Conservators should watch for the appearance of Memorial colleagues on the five part documentary, The Memorial: Beyond the ANZAC Legend, going to air on Foxtel in November (see…).


Karen Holloway attended the four day Conservation of Photographs Masterclass hosted by the NGA and NFSA and held at the National Archives of Australia.


Emily Mulvihill and Nick Flood both attended the ICOM-CC conference in Melbourne. Impressively Barbara Reeve completed the ‘double marathon’ of two conferences back-to-back over two weeks: ICOM-CC Melbourne and IIC Hong Kong. The IIC conference attracted delegates from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Thailand, the UK, America, Australia, France, Singapore, Japan, and many other countries. The conference provided a range of illustrated talks and posters, from scientific analyses of Asian art materials to practical demonstrations of conservation techniques. Barbara revealed the interesting fact that China is currently constructing new museums at the rate of three hundred a year.

National Archives of Australia


Sally Kneebone is working on the archives of the Clunies-Ross family, including a letter book, badly affected by iron gall ink deterioration, being carefully deconstructed and each page encapsulated.

Clair Murray has the good fortune to be currently treating a large poster from 1899 for Robur Tea, recently ‘discovered’ in the collection. It is a design by the well-known Australian artist William Blamire Young, and is a six-sheet polychrome billboard poster in gorgeous colours but rough shape. Clair, Caroline Milne and Travis Taylor will clean, flatten and repair each piece of the poster after which it will be digitised and “stitched” back together.


Sally has been busy with exhibitions lately, with another install and deinstall of the travelling Traversing Antarctica exhibition, this time in Gladstone. The exhibition will now travel to Hervey Bay where it will be installed by Cheryl Jackson in early December. Sally also assisted with the Waterhouse Natural History Prize exhibition install and deinstall at our Parkes building in Canberra. 


Prue McKay and Caroline assisted at and attended the Conservation of Photographs Masterclass held at the Archives in September. Cheryl was a big part of the organisation and running of the workshop and her report can be found in this issue of the Newsletter. Ian Batterham, Clair and Caroline attended the ICOM-CC conference in Melbourne, and Prue attended the Technical Drawings and their Reproductions symposium and Conservation of Transparent Paper workshop in the Netherlands in early October. A report is included in this newsletter.


Ian and Caroline had an article entitled “20th Century Paper Quality in the National Archives of Australia” published in the British Association of Paper Historians journal The Quarterly. The article describes research carried out at the Archives, the results of which can be found on our Paper Research webpage (


National Gallery of Victoria


Michael Varcoe-Cocks, Head of Conservation, is cleaning Louis Buvelot’s painting Winter Morning Near Heidelberg. Helen Casey has recently completed her treatment of the portrait Mary Lucas by Adriaen Hanneman and has commenced treatment of Colin Colahan’s Portrait of Dr John Dale. Raye Collins is well underway in her treatment of Tom Robert’s MarySuzi Shaw is investigating options for re-upholstering an early twentieth century Viennese chair (currently with a later vinyl) in conjunction with laying new leather onto a desk designed by Adolf Loos (1903) made for the Langer apartment in Vienna. Holly McGowan-Jackson is currently “ageing” two reproduction frames made for a pair of paintings by Louis Buvelot. This involves distressing the surface with abrasive paper and various tools, the application of an acrylic varnish to shift the tone of the gilding, and the “dry” brush application of gouache and acrylic paints to simulate dirt. Holly undertook research and treatment on an original auricular frame for a portrait by Sir Peter Lely, for its display in the rehang of the 17th century galleries. For more information see the blog on the NGV website at… Carl Villis’s treatment of Pompeo Batoni’s large double portrait, Sir Sampson Gideon and Companion is nearing completion. MaryJo Lelyveld has been researching and is currently machining the moulding for several reframing projects in Australian paintings collection. All three works date to the late 19th century and include Frederick McCubbin’s The North Wind and Portrait and E. Phillip Fox’s Mary. Sarah Brown has been hinging many large format photographs that have recently come into the lab as new acquisitions.  Trude Ellingsen continues to work on a range of contemporary acquisitions and permanent collection changeovers. John Payne has completed work on JMW Turner’s Walton Bridges and has also recently completed building a new frame for the Hans Memling painting The Man of Sorrows in the Arms of the Virgin. The HDT Williamson Foundation fellows, Sandi Mitchell and Johanna Ellersdorfer, are into the second year of their fellowship and are enjoying the challenges entailed in undertaking more major treatments. Johanna has completed treatment of James Webb painting Rotterdam at sunset and is about to begin her major treatment project of Joshua Reynolds Lady Frances Finch. Sandi’s major treatment project of Luca Giordano’s Saint Sebastian is close to completion.

In July and August we were joined by Sven Dueblin, interning as part of his conservation studies at Bern University of the Arts in Switzerland. During his time at the NGV, Sven completed the major treatment of an 18th century carved Carlo Maratta frame. Along with volunteer Therese from Melbourne University, Sven spent one week working on a project to transfer furniture conservation dossiers to a new filing system. Recently, Emma Rouse joined the studio as a volunteer one day a week, assisting with various projects including the conservation of the frame for a 17th century painting by Sébastien Bourdon. 


Dianne Whittle played a key role in the delivery of Carsten Holler’s Golden Mirror Carousel and Wade Marynofsky’s Nostalgia for Obsolete Futures while Marika Strohschnieder oversaw the conservation requirements for Outer Circle: The Boyds and the Murrumbeena Artists.  Trude Ellingsen continues to work on a range of contemporary acquisitions and permanent collection changeovers.  Ruth Shervington and Louise Wilson have been very busy preparing large works on paper by artist Emily Floyd for the upcoming exhibition at the NGV. These beautiful works comprise of four large paper panels which need to be aligned and then joined to create one larger work. Sarah has also been hinging many large format photographs that have recently come into the lab as new acquisitions.  Raye Collins contributed to the preparation of paintings for the Robert Jacks retrospective Order and Variation currently on display at NGV Australia.

It has been a busy time in textile conservation. The condition reporting and install of The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk took place over four busy weeks during which we were very fortunate to work alongside staff from the Paris atelier. The exhibition, in galleries that have been transformed by our talented exhibition design team consists of more than 140 outfits spanning his career, teamed with iconic images by leading fashion photographers. JPG’s teddy bear wearing the first iteration of the cone bra, completed by six year old Jean Paul, is not to be missed! Running concurrently with the JPG install was the NGV’s newest children’s exhibition, Express How You Feel by Sydney fashion design house Romance Was Born. The preparation of collection and display of loaned textile works for this program was ably overseen by Kate McLaren, Conservation Fellow – Textiles.   But…that’s not all!  Kate Douglas is continuing her work on textiles and garments for Exquisite Threads: English embroidery 1600s–1900s. Kate has been working with our photographers to ensure that images of the works are completed for the publication deadline. Kate Douglas and Kate McLaren have been undertaking research on key pieces in the exhibition. These technical investigations will be presented as case studies in the exhibition publication. Annette Soumilas, Textile Display Specialist, is working with Danielle Whitfield from our curatorial department on a project to prepare key works in the Australian Fashion and Textiles collection for photography and digital presentation on the Culture Victoria website. Annette is focussing on the dressing of garments, creating underpinnings that support the works and provide an accurate historical representation of silhouette and form.   The ongoing program of light-sensitive permanent collection changeovers continue with the addition of a 17th century velvet Dalmatic and a pair of embroidered gauntlet gloves.


Louise Wilson recently returned from the International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper and has been providing refresher methods in paper conservation for both the conservators and mount cutting department. Sarah Brown recently participated in the Conservation of Photographs Masterclass held in Canberra and has gained many new skills and techniques, some which include surface cleaning of face mounted photographs and disaster recovery methodology. 

Museum Victoria


Karina Palmer and Erina McCann have begun a condition survey of batteries in the collection with the view to developing a preservation plan for them as well as drafting a Safe Handling Procedure for these hazardous materials.


Karina and Erina are also progressing through a survey, treatment and re-housing project on a collection of very beautiful and very significant shell necklaces from Tasmania.


We’ve been lucky enough to be working with four students researching aspects of the Museum Victoria collection.  Ren Gregoric, Megan Hall and Emma Neale have been conducting research into degreasing cetaceous material, non-destructive fibre identification for textiles and plant fibre identification to aid provenance respectively for their Masters theses at University of Melbourne.  Doris Koeck has been investigating the challenges and opportunities involved in 3D scanning of museum objects for her degree in archaeology from the University of New England.  We wish all of these students the very best for completing their study and their future careers.


Elizabeth McCartney attended the master class ‘Plastics: Identification, Degradation and Conservation of Plastics’ at the University of Amsterdam, led by Thea van Oosten. This course has been developed significantly since its presentation in Melbourne in 2005 and included data gleaned during the recent POPART project.  Elizabeth also took the opportunity to visit the new laboratories at the British Museum and talk to their scientists about Oddy testing.

Rosemary Goodall attended the ELISA technique workshop in Sydney and Belinda Gourley attended the Conservation of Photographs Masterclass in Canberra. We all look forward to applying new ideas and knowledge to our collections. 


Sarah Babister attended ‘Contemporary Outsider Art: The Global Context’, an international conference held at the University of Melbourne.

Most of the Conservation team attended the ICOM-CC Conference in Melbourne and many were also involved in hosting site visits or some other aspect of the conference.  We’ve now got a (long) short list of must-read papers to make our way through! 

South Australia



Objects Conservation

Renita Ryan, with the help of Grit Friedmann, a German conservator on sabbatical, has done a beautiful job conserving an enormous famille rose and famille verte 1850s Chinese export ware vase. They decided to preserve the well-executed metal rivets and staples from an early restoration and to reuse a carved wooden dog that replicated the ceramic handle.

Sophie Parker has been reversing very ugly old restorations of a bonneted baby doll with three faces. The owner said as a child she would communicate her emotions by dialling up the expression that represented her mood best! We all need one of those! The head and arms are of painted dense black rubber, the body of cloth, and the legs of wood composite. The second doll is of celluloid and soluble in acetone and ethanol. As a trial the cracked head has been adhered with water soluble fish glue, and so far it has remained well adhered.

Jo Dawe has achieved a stunning result reconstructing a smashed and twisted arm of a large plaster and metal armature statue of a boy.

Justin Gare has been preparing South Australia’s own much loved fashion icon Duane Hanson’s Washer Woman for her unglamorous interstate guest appearance. A pity she left before she could get some hot tips from our visiting French curators!

The Objects team continues to work in the South Australian Museum’s Foreign Ethnology store. The current project is to box PNG ceramics which, on the curious advice of an anthropologist, were smashed by the missionary collector to travel them home in a compact state! There they were reglued and are now well supported by Artlab packing and boxing. You have to wonder what the PNG locals thought when the newly acquired pots were broken.

Paintings and Frames Conservation

The entire paintings team including Lisette Burgess, Rita Costabile, Rosie Heysen, Eugene Taddeo, Chris Payne and Marek Pacyna have been involved in the ongoing project of the regilding of the Adelaide City Council’s Elder Park Rotunda. All are thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and fantastic view of the city of Adelaide in spring from the top of the Rotunda scaffold.

Paper and Books Conservation

Aquila Evill has been conserving a large photo mosaic belonging to the State Library of South Australia. Completed by Henry Jones in the 1870s, the mosaic depicts male colonists of South Australia. Small individual silver gelatin photographic portraits are adhered to a paper support, which is supported by a canvas backing and stretched around a wooden strainer.  The deteriorating paper was beginning to split in areas and some of the photographs were starting to show signs of stress. Aquila was able to complete local repairs and replace the strainer to even out the tension of the work. Now that the male colonists are complete, it is on to the female version, which will also be prepared for the AGNSW photograph touring exhibition in 2015.

Jodie Scott has been working on a privately owned collection of photographs and maps. Included in the collection is a small map entitled ‘Battle of Barrosa’ (quite possibly a name borrowed for our own ‘Barossa’), and completed in Spain in 1811. The map is on paper and has been annotated with many different media, presumably by Colonel Light or Governor Gawler. The map was a NIGHTMARE to get off the wooden stretcher due to different pastes, glues and pigment additives in the adhesives. Still to come is tape removal, adhesive stain removal, washing to even out mottled oxidized paper discolouration, lining and mounting. A difficult, but one hopes rewarding, job. 

Projects Conservation

Abby Maxwell-Bowen and Ian Miles have been occupied with mainly larger-sized objects of late – from condition checking and remedial treatment suggestions for three heritage railway carriages, to the cleaning of a concrete artwork by Donald Judd at the Art Gallery of South Australia, as well as some overdue bronze maintenance for Carrick Hill. Meanwhile Ian arranged and oversaw the de-installation and removal of an outdoor Barbara Hepworth bronze and Abby oversaw the conservation treatment of the City of Singapore Firemen’s Memorial at Cheltenham Cemetery.

Preventive Conservation

The entire preventive team including Anne Dineen, Stuart Fuller, Rosie Heysen and Katrina Kenny is being kept busy with the ongoing collection care of many of the great South Australian State Government institutions including the Art Gallery of South Australia, South Australian Museum, National Motor Museum, South Australian Maritime Museum, Migration Museum and the historic house museum Carrick Hill. Preparing for disasters and keeping those pests at bay!


Textiles Conservation

In July, Kristin Phillips travelled to Dili, Timor-Leste to present a training workshop for staff at Timor Aid. With the assistance of the team from Timor Aid and staff from the Alola Foundation and the National Collection, Kristin prepared 16 textiles for display at the Timorese Resistance Archive and Museum. The work was undertaken as part of a joint project with Timor Aid and the National Collection of Timor to celebrate the Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa CPLP an intergovernmental organization for friendship and cooperation among Portuguese-speaking nations.


Objects Conservation

Planning is afoot to travel the exhibition Rough Medicine on display at the South Australian Maritime Museum (see also Textiles entry below).

Paper and Books Conservation

The paper lab team have recently been aiding the Art Gallery of South Australia to take down the paper based retrospective shows of artists Dorrit Black and Mortimer Menpes. Many of the items on loan require rehousing into original frames with Gallery-owned works to be prepared for storage.  

Textiles Conservation

October has seen the textiles team of Kristin Phillips and Mary-Anne Gooden embrace Parisian culture for the preparation and installation of Fashion Icons: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Musee Des Arts Decoratifs, Paris at the Art Gallery of South Australia. With significant assistance from the Objects team, over 90 haute couture garments were condition checked, mannequins adjusted and underpinnings prepared before the final dressing and primping.  We thoroughly enjoyed creating some extreme body shapes with guidance from our lovely French colleagues Josephine Pellas, Textiles Conservator and Eric Pujalet-plaa Assistant Curator of fashion at Musee Des Arts Decoratifs. What an extraordinary experience with such little preparation warning and a short deadline!


Director Andrew Durham, Assistant Director Helen Weidenhofer, Paintings Conservators Eugene Taddeo and Rosie Heysen, and Textiles Conservator Mary-Anne Gooden were fortunate enough to be able to attend the ICOM-CC 17th Triennial Conference in Melbourne, presenting a great opportunity to catch up with our interstate and international colleagues. Following the conference, Mary-Anne attended Dinah Eastop’s thought provoking two-day workshop Why Now? Conservation as Material Culture held at the University of Melbourne.

Kristin, Justin and Andrew also attended the IIC 2014 Hong Kong Conference: An Unbroken History: Conserving East Asian Works of Art and Heritage. The conference held at City Hall in central Hong Kong was an invaluable opportunity to learn about conservation techniques and research associated with East Asian artifacts, and meet many overseas colleagues.

Anne Dineen attended both the AICCM 2014 Preventative SIG Quarantine Symposium at the Australian Museum in Sydney in June and the Assessing and Managing Risks to Your Collection workshop with Robert Waller in Melbourne in September. 

Rita Costabile attended the Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELIZA) Technique workshop held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in September.

Jodie Scott was very fortunate to attend the Conservation of Photographs Masterclass in Canberra in September, hosted by the National Gallery of Australia and the National Archives.  Jodie is currently in discussion with curators of South Australian institutions about the dissemination of the abundance of technique learnt from participants at the masterclass.

Paper conservator Anna Austin has just begun a seven week printmaking residency in Spain. Anna will be travelling to local paper making mills while overseas.


Congratulations to Heather Brown, Artlab’s WHS committee and PhysioLink consultant Jo Bills, for their tireless efforts to make Artlab a safe & healthy workplace!  On 31 October Artlab was awarded second place in the 2014 Safework Awards within the category of Best solution to an identified workplace health and safety issue. There were 39 entrants in this category and all four finalists (except Artlab) were large companies with significant WHS infrastructure. The winner was Holden Ltd.

Artlab received a special commendation for an innovative solution to reducing the significant risks of musculoskeletal disorders in conservation work. Accolades such as this are great to receive but the real gains are the continued health and safety of our conservators.


Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office


Stephanie McDonald has been working on the usual range of treatments in the last few months, including a full traditional paper treatment of an 1841 plan of the New Town Watch House, repair of a WWI manuscript – Lieutenant Hooper, 58th Battalion AIF, and repair of the sewing and gutters of the 1832 Hobart Town almanack (including repair of a hand-coloured fold out map of Launceston).

Volunteer Jan Smith has passed the 3,000 items milestone in cleaning, rehousing and listing the Mercury Newspaper negatives. Another relief staff project has been the cleaning and rehousing of the Latrobe Council building approval plans from 1943 to 1956 by Chrissi Benthien. Library technician Gaynor Tollard has been working through a backlog of new acquisitions to the Allport collection, preparing them for storage through rehousing, de-framing and installing new fittings.


Stephanie McDonald and photographer David Walker assisted the Army Museum of Tasmania to clean, repair and photograph a group of 22 WWI photographs in preparation for their 6 bob a day tourists exhibition of reproductions.  Stephanie carried out minor repair and stain reduction on three of the photographs.

Work on the exhibition architecture drawing | drawing architecture, featuring plans and drawings from 11 architects from the early government architects to current practitioners, was completed in September, and planning is underway for a complex exhibition of the anatomical work of Lauren Black, Hobart illustrator, combined with medical drawings and objects from the WL Crowther collection in TAHO.

Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery


David Thurrowgood is currently working with one of the conservation volunteers to fumigate and repair a significant rocking horse from the History collection.


A number of exhibitions were changed over while Amy Bartlett was the only conservator on staff at QVMAG from June to September 2014. These included the de-installation, condition reporting and packing of loan and QVMAG collection items for the We are Hawthorn exhibition at the Museum.  Three travelling exhibitions at the Art Gallery included 21 Objects – 21 Stories, Bea Maddock’s Leaving a Mountain and Lola Greeno: Cultural Jewels which required condition reporting, de-framing of artworks and the construction of custom packaging upon de-installation. In addition, Amy prepared a number of in-house exhibitions over this period. These included works on paper for The Continuous Landscape of Distance – Fred Williams Bass Strait Island Paintings which opened at the Art Gallery in July. Works on paper were also treated and mounted, paintings cleaned and 3D sculptures prepared for Twentieth Century Paintings and Sculptures from the QVMAG Collection for the Art Gallery, which opened in August 2014. Approximately 140 objects, textiles, paper items and artworks went through the lab in preparation for The Great War 1914-18: Sacrifice and Shadows, which opened at the Museum in August 2014. Work included preparation for photography, condition reporting, conservation treatment and the construction of supports for display. Cleaning objects such as pistols, bayonets and medals was certainly a change for Amy in contrast to paper conservation.

Since September, David has treated a boat and cleaned a number of trophies that have recently been de-installed from the Museum’s sport gallery. Incoming travelling show Hyperclay: Contemporary Ceramics has left the Art Gallery. Amy and David completed condition reports and assisted with the installation and de-installation of this exhibition.

Most recently, Amy has prepared works on paper for changeover in the Portrait of Colonial Tasmania exhibition at the Art Gallery along with watercolours on paper from the 1800s which are currently on display in the William Buelow Gould: The Macquarie Harbour Botanical Drawings exhibition.


Amy condition reported and packed shell necklaces for outgoing loan to the Powerhouse Museum for the exhibition A fine possession: jewellery and identity. She is currently working on a number of photographic works which are being loaned to the Art Gallery of New South Wales for display in Mirror to nature: the photograph in Australia.

David has condition reported two paintings by George Davis for loan to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. He is currently repairing a frame for a painting that is going on outward loan to the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. 


Amy was delighted to have her application accepted to attend the Conservation of Photographs Masterclass which was held in Canberra in September 2014. The course was held over four days and was delivered by Debbie Hess Norris, Nora Kennedy and Peter Mustardo. The amazing opportunity was enjoyed immensely by all those that attended.


Amy has been working with QVMAG’s Media and Communications Coordinator to increase the awareness of conservation throughout Launceston and beyond. This includes raising the conservation section’s profile on the QVMAG’s Facebook page by regularly submitting posts about work being conducted for exhibitions, treatments and projects by staff and volunteers. She was highlighted in the education section of Launceston’s local paper The Examiner, discussing the importance of conserving history sources. She also was interviewed alongside other QVMAG staff on ABC Radio.


Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art


Gillian Osmond has submitted her PhD thesis on zinc white reactivity in oil-based paints, which has been passed subject to minor revisions, planned for completion by December. Both Anne Carter and Gillian have papers published in the latest volume of the AICCM Bulletin.

Liz Wild presented her paper “Reincarnating the Lotus: Repair of a contemporary life-size cloisonné figure” at the IIC conference in Hong Kong in September 2014.

Sophie Theobald-Clark is commencing a two-year research internship at QAGOMA in November in partnership with the Queensland University of Technology to investigate the materials, techniques and paintings of William Robinson. The research will help inform conservation approaches for these often complex works.


The Robin Gibson-designed QAG building is currently under review for heritage listing in response to a Master Plan for the development of the South Brisbane area. Chris Saines, the Director of QAGOMA is taking the heritage of the building to heart, with restoration of many of the original architectural features of the 1982 building, including opening up closed windows and sight lines. This has resulted in a new hang of the historic International collection. Major treatments for this rehang include the reframing by Robert Zilli and Damian Buckley of Vuillard’s Le salon des Hessel c.1905, a distemper on canvas painting measuring 178 x 380 cm.

New Indigenous galleries have also opened in the QAG building. This exhibition includes the display of a rare painting by Nym Bandak dated c.1959-60 titled Ngakumarl painting (Murrinhpatha totemic landscape). This work consists of natural pigments on composition board and is interesting as it predates the Papunya style boards. The painting was consolidated and inpainted for display by Anne Carter, and reframed by Robert and Damian.

Samantha Shellard, Nicholas Cosgrove and David Rousell have completed framing six suites by artist Tracey Moffatt for her exhibition called Spiritual Landscape. These suites with other collection works are featured in the exhibition catalogue.

Kim Barrett and Caroline O’Rorke will soon commence condition reporting and mounting over 160 photographic prints, lithos and drawings for the David Lynch Exhibition scheduled in March 2015. This major exhibition presents an overview of the American artist and filmmaker’s paintings, photographs and prints along with sculpture, video and sound works.

Liz Wild, Amanda Pagliarino, Kim Barrett and Michael Marendy are assisting staff from the Kyoto Costume Institute with the condition reporting, dressing and install of the Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion exhibition at GOMA which will run over the summer holiday season.

Liz Wild travelled to the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) in Sydney in October to assist with the preparation and install of a loaned work, Womanly Bodies, by Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak and from the Queensland Art Gallery collection, for the exhibition currently on display there. Liz worked with the artist at SCAF to prepare the work for display.

Samantha Shellard has begun condition reporting new acquisition 1000 Frog Poems: 1000 Boss Drovers (“Yellow- Leaf Falling”) For H.S 1996-2014 by artist Robert MacPherson. This suite consists of 2,400 portraits. This tremendous archival project is arguably considered his magnum opus with its production expanding over twenty years of his practice. This suite will feature in a retrospective exhibition planned for 2015.