Exhibitions are usually planned months, often years in advance and take a lot of work. Last week Katie S and I gave Bronwen a hand getting some paintings ready for a future exhibition that she is putting together.
The paintings were being stored at the Curatorial Services but are going to be part of an exhibition at Stockport Story Museum called ‘Saints and Sinners’ in November, but they require some TLC first. The paintings that are to be on display are all part of a collection that was put together by John Benjamin Smith (1796 – 1879), MP for Stockport until 1874. Most of the painting being used depict Saints, religious scenes and scenes of misdoings, such as high way robberies.
The paintings chosen, possibly due to their age, are in poor condition. The colours are very dark, the paint deteriorating and some even have holes and rips; quite large rips in some cases. This means that they have to take a visit to the conserver and she will do quite a bit of work to improve their quality. But before this step can begin they have to be prepared for transport while still here on site.
Katie and Bronwen worked on individually wrapping the paintings. This involved first wrapping the painting in acid free tissue paper, followed by a healthy coat of bubble wrap. This bubble wrap had been used before so still had bits of sellotape on from its earlier use. This is unfortunate as over time the tape goes very glue like in texture and so every piece had to first be removed to avoid any contact with the painting. If the frame of the painting was particularly loose cotton tape was tied around it to keep it securely in place.
My job here however, did not involve touching the paintings at all. I was in charge of object movement tickets. These object movement tickets are very important as they chart the movement of an object; much like the ‘location’ fields on Modes discussed HERE. As previously mentioned, everything has to be accounted for at all times to avoid any issues such as loss, theft or damage. These tickets come in three’s; a white, a yellow and a blue. They are filled in with the following information:
Object Number: (This is its identification number used on the object, its Modes record etc.)
Object Name: (What the object is.)
Old Location: (So, in this case this is the paintings ‘home’ location.)
New Location: (Where has the object been moved to?)
Reason: (In this case, for conservation.)
Moved by / Date: (Sign and Date)
Permanent: (Is this move for good? This is usually no, as its usually an exhibition, a loan, conservation etc and they should return here, to their ‘home’ location.)
The white copy is then placed where the object is moving from, its old location, so if anybody is looking for it there they will find this information for its absence. The yellow copy stays with the object; where ever it is going this ticket should stay with it as ID and a record of its old and new location. Finally, the blue copy goes to Angela. Angela uses these to update the locations on the objects Modes record.
The blue copy is then filed away in a ‘objects out’ system and when the object is returned the tickets are reunited and filed in a ‘objects returned’ system.
Once the paintings were packed and their tickets organised, they were loaded carefully in to the van with towels lay between them for further protection and taken to the conservers studio in Sheffield. She will work on then for a couple of months (she estimates 12 hours on each painting, and she has taken 16 paintings) and hopefully they will return without any obvious signs that they were once so damaged as they were.
A quick update regard the fawn that was put in the freezer a while ago (HERE). It has served its time and has since been removed. Once I unwrapped it I had to remove the bodies of the bugs that once infested it. Due to their time in the cold they are all dead or the exoskeletons that were shed as they grew, and so I was able to brush them from the fawn with a small paintbrush. I thought I would share some photographs of the extent of the problem.
As you can see there was quite a large number on this fawn and if left to inhabit the taxidermy that number would continue to grow and damage the quality of the object, and that is before they infiltrate into the rest of the collection, spreading the damage further. Luckily, these were caught and the freezer is usually used just as a precaution.