The Infill: because you’re worth it
Good day s😎nshine
We are back from our (rather extended) summer break, and what better way to commemorate the whole two weeks of warm weather we had in Britain by sharing some news about Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, the Amsterdam copy of which recently underwent investigations that revealed, amongst other things, the presence of the artist’s fingerprints. Perhaps even more fascinating is the story of one of the Sunflowers‘ previous conservators. ‘It comes as a shock that someone with minimal training treated the canvases of such an important artist’, writes Martin Bailey in The Art Newspaper. We cannot predict whether history will deem Stan Herd an important artist, but we do know that he recently made a gigantic copy of a sun-soaked Van Gogh painting, The Olive Trees, near the airport in Minneapolis, using plants, grass and earth. In other sunny news, a stolen Kwakwaka’wakw sun mask has been returned after 100 years, following journeys to New York and Paris, to its rightful indigenous owners in British Columbia.
News you can use
We don’t tend to wear gloves in book and paper conservation, but here is a helpful little video on how to avoid cross-contamination when handling dirty objects. Do you find yourself befuddled by Byzantine bindings? Here are two video tutorials to set you straight. You might wish to follow them up with this one on a new method for restoring headbands. And if you have been trying to cut down on your leather consumption, then why not consider the humble coconut? While we aren’t quite prepared to believe that this tropical drupe ‘can literally do everything’, we would happily let it turn itself into our next new handbag.
If The Infill is still around in a hundred years, we will definitely need to recycle this article on best practices for handling photographs (‘Photograph? What’s a photograph?’). News that is potentially useful to you in this century includes a brief primer on wet book rescue and reports on the treatment of a mid-seventeenth-century Japanese picture book from Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries collection and folding books from the Thai Buddhist manuscript collection at the Chester Beatty library in Dublin.
We all go through rough patches, even those of us with dream jobs in the heritage sector. So it’s good to know that museums are not just raising awareness about mental health issues but also trying to do something about it.
In the ‘not really that useful, but interesting nonetheless’ category… don’t tell the Andrex puppy, but not everyone was happy when Britain made the switch from scratchy loo roll in the 20th century. ‘How Brits went soft on toilet paper‘ is full of fascinating bits of information like this little gem: men, “more accustomed to ‘rubbing or scraping’” needed to be trained how to use this newfangled invention. That must have been one tough position to recruit for.
D’oh! Why didn’t I…
- … think of that? (using sugar to preserve a 7,000-year-old well)
- … trust my instincts and buy that drawing? (Egon Schiele artwork found in charity shop)
- … trust my instincts and *not* buy that painting? (‘Paintings by Australian artist Howard Arkley valued at over $750,000 might be worth nothing‘)
- … actually learn how to conserve art before attempting it on a real object? (‘Statue of St. George Undergoes ‘Unrestoration’ to Salvage Botched Paint Job‘)
- … bring my copy of the Ten Commandments with me on holiday so I wouldn’t forget that one about not taking things that don’t belong to me? (‘Italian Police Detain UK Woman for Trying to Steal Pompeii Mosaic‘)
Steady on, mate
It’s not very often that curators ‘come to blows’. But it’s apparently happened at ICOM over the question of ‘What is a museum?’. We trust it does not depend “on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”.
Medievalists are reportedly both ‘excited’ and ‘thrilled’ at the discovery of a parchment fragment of possibly the first ‘vagina monologue’. A fourteenth-century tale of argument, separation and reconciliation involving a woman and her man? Nope, it’s her vulva.
Sigh… mate, I’m not sure what kind of political statement you’re trying to make, but it’s a charity shop. The clue is in the name. CHARITY shop. Stop being a jerk. ‘A Literary Vandal Is Ripping Pages Out of Books and Putting Them Back on Shelves’.
Perhaps if we had actually watched even a single episode of Game of Thrones, we might consider this act of fandom a bit less scary (although we have to admire their creativity): ‘A team of 30 volunteers has embroidered all eight seasons of the HBO drama in the style of the legendary Bayeux Tapestry‘.
Your video treat:
should be mandatory viewing for all users of libraries. The first thirty seconds are admittedly a bit slow, but get past that and get ready for the colz*.
* it’s not quite hilarious enough for full-on laughs, but there are chuckles aplenty
The final word…
… goes to Mike Dickison in his think piece ‘What’s the point of museums?’: ‘Museums are not for exhibitions.’ If you find that provocative, read on.
It seems that Hatshepsut, the missing cat we posted about over the summer (of course it was not an accidental cross-post – the concern for missing pets in South London within the global conservation and cultural heritage community is legendary), has not been reunited with her family. RIP wherever you are, little tabby.😿 Bigs hugs, The Gathering