The Infill: 28 June 2018


It’s summer (for some)… and things are hotting up

But not in a good way. The Glasgow School of Art made the headlines again with its second catastrophic blaze in four years. Some are convinced that it can still be saved, and we hope they are right. The Hayward Gallery in London was much luckier, sustaining only minor damage when a sequin-studded rotting fish spontaneously combusted whilst on display.

When fires break out, thank heaven for the firemen. And the conservators. Working at speed, our colleagues at the University of Melbourne were able to save a blaze-damaged WWI parchment Book of Remembrance, while painting conservators at Yale University successfully restored Joshua Reynolds’ 1760 ‘Miss Day (Lady Anne Fenoulhet)’ to her former glory following some earlier, and questionable, post-fire restoration work. Watch as they discuss their decision-making process in the face of problematic pigments.

O2 Mg!

Early adopters of The Infill will fondly recall the UNESCO International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies in 2016. Man, did we celebrate it. We celebrated it hard. So hard that we were feeling slightly hungover until about March 2017, and such was our fear of falling off the wagon that we kind of forgot about UNESCO’s international years. So imagine the heart-pounding, breath-stealing ecstasy we felt late last night when we discovered that 2019 will be the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. The flippin’ PERIODIC TABLE OF CHEMICAL ELEMENTS! We are happier than dogs rolling in mud after a bath. You thought 2016 was a knees-up? You have been officially warned. Stock up on ibuprofen, put Uber Eats on speed-dial for a greasy fry-up from the local caf, and tell your boss you ain’t comin’ into work. It’s gonna be periodic party time.

There’s something about Mary

And it’s not her hair. No, it’s her enduring love of the use of semi-solid colloidal suspensions of solids dispersed in liquids, for conservation purposes. Gels go down well in Spain, too, and following the recent ‘Nano-systems. Application to tape removal on cellulosic supports’ conference in Madrid, Rita Udina has treated us to a review that is incisive, inclusive (you don’t need to be a scientist to get it) and, dare we say, inspiring: you’ll want to drop whatever it is that you are doing and, to paraphrase Rita, remove some d**n tape!

Which is exactly what they did at the University of Florence when confronted with a big piece of the sticky stuff on a Michelangelo drawing. Read on to discover what they found underneath. In other gel-related goings-on, we don’t know if they have any applications to conservation yet, but these aerogels, ‘the lightest solid material ever made by man’, sound pretty nifty. As does the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM)’s talk on gels in conservation that was held at the end of May. Which is useful information for anyone with a time machine.

Some things to sink your teeth into

Your video treat:

is an ooey, gooey and luscious look at how oil paints are made. Just try to resist the urge to dive into a big tub of Betty Crocker.

The final word…

… is cautionary advice from filmmaker John Waters in a piece on an American plastic cultural icon: ‘You can’t just mosey into a pit of pink flamingos. I have tried.’

With terrifying visions of a violent, pastel maelstrom of webbed feet, feathers and long, curved beaks in our heads, we bid you a hasty adieu. Until next time! Hugs, The Gathering

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