The Infill: shaken, not stirred
Shaken, indeed. But not by Brexit, wildfires or the latest Trumpian tomfoolery. No, we are stunned to the core by the realisation that the last Infill was on the 28th of June. The twenty-eighth. Of June! You must all be wallowing in a sea of confusion, despondency and borderline rage: ‘What the devil is going on in the world of conservation and cultural heritage? Why do they refuse to fill me in??’.
We confess that we were a bit busy with the wedding. No, not that wedding. Ours, which was, by royal standards, a rather peasant-like affair. But even humble bumpkin gatherings need an exhausting level of planning. We are prepared to grovel for forgiveness, but you probably just want us to get on with the news. And so we oblige.
How about some news you can use?
Got an iPhone? D’oh! Then you can’t use this news, and you won’t be downloading the Marble Paper Guide app: it’s for Android only 😭. Haven’t got an iPhone, an Android or whatever that Microsoft one is, but happen to have some oven-charred US dollars lying around? Do not despair: the Mutilated Currency Division will spend painstaking hours with tweezers, tape and glue to get you a refund. OMG. This looks and sounds so much like fake news (a farmer sent in his cow’s stomach? puh-leeze!) we were getting heart palpitations at the very prospect of propagating it. But then we found this. You be the judge.
You can thank CCI/ICC CHIN/RCIP for this video: ‘A conservator’s guide to preparing solutions’. We had always rather cavalierly assumed that precision and accuracy were the same thing. We have been schooled.
You can thank us for ‘A spine-pocket wrapper for books with detached spines’. Ooh, the innovation! Ooh, the brazen self-promotion!
Remember that time you popped this into the ICCROM/CCI/Ibermuseums Program suggestion box?: ‘I speak English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Why isn’t there a free, downloadable kit for reorganising my collections in storage that I can read in all four of those languages?’ My friend, they listened. And darn it if this kit is not also field tested, easy to use and easy on the eyes. Your cup overfloweth.
And overfloweth like it’s being filled by the Niagara Falls themselves: pouring out all over your favourite linen tablecloth and onto the floor are a new method for tackling the problem of silver mirroring in photographs and black-and-white film, Sustainability in Conservation’s An Introduction and Guide to Solvent Toxicity, the CCI’s technical bulletin on passive control of relative humidity using silica gel, and a video on how to roll up acrylic paintings. You’re going to need a serious mop.
This might only be useful for an extremely niche pub quiz, but we’ll pass it on anyway: in 2016-17 in Australia, cultural and creative activity generated nearly $112 billion. Think of how many bone folders you could buy with that kind of cash.
Finally, Halloween was yonks ago but if you’ve got some leftover bats 🦇🦇🦇 and a library with an insect infestation, you might want to try what this library in Portugal did.
Conservation, shakin’ its groove thing
What do you do when a little Degas ballerina has torn her pretty frock? You do a new tu-tu, obvs. But what about when your 1940s diorama dancer’s gone droopy? You give her the ol’ stiff upper back. And when somebody’s mucked up ya eighteenth-century Yup’ik mask and you can’t tell the upper extremities from the lower? You thank your lucky stars that there’s an Alaskan ‘master storyteller and dancer’ at the other end of the continent who can help you get your object back on its feet.
In old news (better than fake!), the ruby slippers in which Dorothy danced her way down the yellow brick road have been put back on post-conservation display at the National Museum of American History. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
It’s 26 sleeps until Christmas, but you-know-who is already checking his list.
- White, synthetic green and orange. These pigments are definitely getting coal in their stockings. ‘Cuz nobody messes with calcium and ceramic dinnerware without Santa getting involved.
- The thieves who stole rare, nineteenth-century animal skeletons from Sydney University’s teaching collection. What does one do with a full hippopotamus skull?
- The teacher responsible for this ‘restoration’. We admit, as humble book and paper – ie, not paintings – conservators, it’s possibly better than we could have done… but we would not have taken on the job in the first place, knowing it was not our forte! #fortheloveofgodjustgiveittosomebodywhoknowswhattheyaredoing
- The British Army, who ‘starts recruiting for revived Monuments Men unit to protect art and archaeology in war’
- The sharp-eyed conservators who reunited a family painted by Frans Hals in the early 1600s. It was a portrait reunion, of course. We assume the actual family members have long since gone to the big art gallery in the sky.
- ECCO (European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers’ Organisations), which celebrated the first-ever European Day of Conservation-Restoration, on 14th October. And Culture Action Europe, which ‘wants to put Culture on the Agenda for the European Elections 2019‘. Wow, this ‘Europe’ sure sounds like a good thing to be part of.
- Alan Derbyshire, portrait miniatures conservation specialist at the V&A Museum, and Gangolf Ulbricht, der Papermaker
Your video treat:
ain’t no video. Just some medieval manuscript cat LOLZ. Seriously, click the link.
Or don’t. Either way, if you didn’t before then click now on the Gangolf Ulbricht video link. Paper. Sumptuous. Beautiful. Gratifying. A four-minute-forty-nine-second feast for the senses.
The final word…
… goes to ECCO. ‘Without the Conservator-Restorers there will not be Cultural Heritage!’ Even though we all know it, it never hurts to repeat it. Again and again, until the profession gets the recognition and funding it deserves.
We kind of feel like we cheated you. Because we only filled you in back to August. But we did give you some good cat LOLZ. Will you forgive us? Pretty please? With sugar on top? Hugs, The Gathering