The Infill: 25 April 2015

The Infill: slogging through the Internet bog so you don’t have to.

Travel plans

Spring has sprung (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) and, like ours, your thoughts will most certainly have turned to the upcoming summer holiday season. Where, oh where, in the world should you go? What cultural delights await you on foreign or home shores? Perhaps you could take a jaunt (or, in our case, the number 23 bus) to the newly discovered ‘Pompeii of the North’ in London. You could also opt to endure a long-haul journey to view cave art in Australia (wow – check out that ‘eye of the sea’!). Or if you’re a workaholic who just can’t quite let go of the job, even on holiday, you could always take in a studio visit to the Conservation Center for Art and Historical Artifacts in Philadelphia to check out their work on paper and photographs. But maybe you’re a bit skint this year and pricey holidays simply aren’t in the cards. Or perhaps time travel is really more your thing, yet you just haven’t quite worked out all of the technical bits. Well have no fear, The Getty is here and they’ll get you back to Renaissance Italy in no time. No passport required!

So many options, so little time. No matter what you decide, however, we know there’s one place none of us will be visiting. Ever. Thanks, Isis. Well done.

A walk down the Ethics Alley

While we’re on the subject, have you wondered exactly why Nimrud had to be destroyed? Here’s one extremely disturbing, distressing and even disgusting answer, which serves as a blood-boiling companion to the news that $100 million in stolen Asian antiquities were recently discovered in New York, in raids carried out by US and Indian authorities. Less dramatic but nonetheless just wrong, wrong, wrong is the case of the Melbourne, Australia art conservator and art dealer who are about to stand trial for producing and selling fake Brett Whitely paintings.

Not all situations are so clear-cut when it comes to ethical and moral judgements, of course, as evidenced by a number of cultural heritage dilemmas that have presented themselves recently. We ask you to consider for yourselves: is the preservation of Auschwitz going a step too far? Should the British Museum be exhibiting Indigenous Australian art? Is tourism really endangering the Paleolithic art in the Altamira caves in northern Spain to the degree the site should be closed? (Maybe France has the answer to that one.) And what should be done about beautiful but abandoned buildings? Last but not least, is there a case for censorship in conservation, phalli or no phalli??

Ouch. Our brains hurt just considering the debates we’ll have over these issues. Perhaps it’s time to go and hide in…

The science and technology corner

Ahhh… it’s so warm in here. And ever since they added the fully stocked drinks cabinet and comfy chairs, well, we’re not sure we ever want to leave. So whilst we mix ourselves a nice weekend G&T, please allow us to regale you with the following:

  • Solved!: Cracks in paint. Find out just how a clever conservation sleuth from the Smithsonian, erm, cracked the case.
  • Invented!: New technology to study old masters. They’ve been busy up at the UK’s Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science, developing a non-invasive means of analysing paint layers, thus relieving ‘some poor soul’ of the burden of ‘the task of deciding which piece of a Rembrandt or Caravaggio doesn’t matter very much’. Indeed.
  • Dated!: Lots of stuff, apparently, at the GNS Science Rafter Radiocarbon Laboratory – the world’s longest-running – in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, including fake Chinese textiles and pre-European Polynesian waka (no, we didn’t know what those were either).

Drat – it seems someone’s drunk all the gin. It must be time to move on.

Even more free stuff (but hurry)!

Blimey, we thought our brains hurt before. Now they’re positively ready to explode with excitement: following on from the last Infill’s cornucopia of free art, there are now free archaeology, heritage and conservation journals to be had. 44 of them! Free! Online! Now! But only until Sunday. Of course, as you are most undoubtedly already following us on Facebook, this is old news to you and you downloaded all 44 back on 13th April when we first told you about it. You are now *so over it*.

Slightly less free (make that $70 less free), but no less newsworthy, is the newly published Historical Perspectives in the Conservation of Works of Art on Paper. Looks like a must-have, and you can get it from the Getty in their online shop.

Your video treat of the week:

Is really more of a trick than a treat, but we simply couldn’t ignore this. Apparently you couldn’t either, as it’s now our most popular Facebook post ever. But in case you haven’t seen it, or in the event that you’d like to revisit the horror, we present to you, albeit not without slight queasiness, ‘Book Conservationist’ Nobuo Okano.

The final word…

… goes to The Force. Just in time for the release of the new Star Wars trailer (we’re not cynical), it’s Mediaeval Manuscript Yoda!

Enjoy the weekend, and we’ll see you again when the drinks cabinet is re-stocked. Cheers! 

Have comments on any of the items above? Leave your feedback below, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for your daily Infill.

3 thoughts on “The Infill: 25 April 2015

  1. If you really want good as new then there are 33 copies of the Sanseido dictionary on Abebooks. The third edition from 1979 (as in film) costs from £19 upwards. Or you can get a new one from Amazon!

    By why deprive this charming gentleman of his income? I wonder how much he charged. Of course he would do the same to a 200 year old very rare book too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sure the client discussed their wishes with Mr. Okano, who we cannot assume would approach all books in the same way. This kind of finger-pointing is beneath us. The real ‘crime’ here is the use of the term ‘conservationist’ alongside images of actions clearly not showing conservation in action.


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