Newsletter Issue Number:
AICCM National Newsletter No 133 March 2016

Artlab Australia


Artlab was awarded a Certificate of Commendation in the recent Self Insurers of South Australia (SISA) awards for the category: best work health and safety solution. Artlab’s submission focused on our innovative and unique engineering solutions that have been developed in consultation with ergonomist Jo Bills to redesign the work surfaces and equipment normally used in conservation work. A variety of height adjustable tables have been specifically designed for carrying out textile conservation treatments and frame conservation. These have been significantly effective in reducing the risk of injury and improving staff comfort and efficiency.

Congratulations to Renita Ryan Principal Objects Conservator, Kristin Philips Principal Textiles Conservator, Rosie Heysen Paintings Conservator & Mary-Anne Gooden Textiles Conservator for being awarded Professional Membership of AICCM.

Records Management

Artlab is transferring our records management system to EMu.  Helen Weidenhofer, assisted by Renita Ryan, has been determining Artlab’s requirements and working with providers, Axiell, to produce our customised system.

Workshops and Conferences

As part of the SA/NT AICCM Division Chin-Wag series of talks, Objects conservator Jo Dawe presented Conservation of Plastics: A brief overview of the Brisbane Workshop undertaken with Yvonne Shashoua. Also in November 2015, Dr Ian McLeod, Conservation Scientist and Senior Museum Manager of the West Australian Museum provided a very entertaining presentation on the Mystery of Australian Shipwrecks: Patterns of Decay on Artefacts.

Objects Conservation

Exhibitions and Loans

The Objects lab has been busy preparing artworks for several exhibitions including ‘Riverland: Yvonne Koolmatrie’ at the Art Gallery of South Australia as part of TARNANTHI: the Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art that showcases and celebrates Indigenous culture in South Australia.

Jo Dawe has been preparing items for ‘Losing the Plot – food gardening in South Australia’ at the Migration Museum. The Objects team are also preparing items belonging to the Art Gallery of South Australia, Migration Museum and Royal Geographical Society, for display at the Australian Museum’s upcoming exhibition ‘Trail Blazers’.

Renita Ryan finished the treatment of La Plongeuse, an alabaster sculpture, and packed it for return to Riddoch Art Gallery in Mt Gambier.

Justin Gare has been working steadily preparing approximately 100 shields and other objects for display in the South Australian Museum’s exhibition Power and Protection which will open in March 2016.

Sophie Parker led the Objects team in preparing a South Australian Maritime Museum exhibition Rough Medicine: Life and Death in the Age of Sail.  This has now embarked on its tour around Australia.

The Objects lab is happy to welcome back Megan Sypek 2 days per week to help with our busy schedule.

Paintings and Frames Conservation

Treatment Projects

Paintings Conservator Chris Payne with the assistance of Paper Conservator Helen Halley recently undertook the of the Mildura Arts Centre Rio Vista Upper Hall Ceiling Conservation treatment. Treatment involved stabilisation of damaged ceiling, cornice and complex wall paper decoration. This was followed by the reconstruction of missing sections including the reproduction of replica wall paper samples to fill areas of loss.

Student Placement

The Paintings Lab at Artlab is currently hosted second year Paintings Conservation student intern Lee Norma Dear from the Masters in Cultural Materials Conservation course at the University of Melbourne.

Paper and Books Conservation

Research Grant

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) awarded its 2015 research grant in the field of preservation management. The grant has been awarded to Heather Brown, Assistant Director, Paper and Books at Artlab Australia. Heather also manages the State Library of South Australia’s industry partnership with the University of South Australia in delivering the Library and Information Management/Archival and Records Management programs.

The research topic will investigate the various approaches to digital and physical preservation management, with special reference to Australian national/state/territory libraries, to identify similarities and differences.

From the findings of the research, a new integrated conceptual framework will be developed.  Such a framework can inform the prioritisation of all materials requiring preservation attention and enable sharing of strategies across all formats. 

This research could help the international preservation community by providing a better understanding of preservation practices and insights into how the two areas of preservation can learn from each other.

Projects Conservation

Conservation Treatments

Ian Miles has been working on the restoration of a World War 1 Krupp howitzer heavy artillery piece for local council.  He is also overseeing repairs on the cast iron Creswell Arch, 1910, from the garden outside Adelaide oval.

Textiles Conservation

Exhibitions and Loans

The Textiles lab has been busy with preparations for several Art Gallery of South Australia exhibitions. This included a display of Kimonos for Power of Pattern; several batik hangings for More Ink than Ocean: the Art of writing in Islam; and the challenging ‘invisible’ display of 8 full skirts printed with Namatjira paintings for TARNANTHI: the inaugural Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art

In February, the textiles team of Kristin Phillips, Mary-Anne Gooden, volunteer Barbara Flaum and textiles ‘associate’ Justin Gare travelled to Beechworth, Victoria for the unveiling of the Chinese Banner at the Burke Museum. The Banner has undergone extensive treatment at Artlab over the past year and it was delightful to see it on display.

Workshops and Conferences

In November 2015 Mary-Anne Gooden travelled to New York to attend the NATCC. This was a fantastic opportunity to visit several Textile Conservation Labs, an Embroidery studio and attend a workshop in mannequin mounting with Fosshape.


Textiles has warmly welcomed back Kristin Phillips from her 3 month sojourn to the UK. Kristin was awarded the Copeland Foundation Scholarship to attend the Attingham Summer School.