Great apes, graffiti and grovelling
Oh dear, looks like it’s been a while since I did this last…. life has been a little hectic.
Condition reporting of loan exhibitions has formed a larger part of my work recently. Face to Face was an installation of huge images of rescued apes whose life story is written on their faces perhaps even more clearly than on humans. Again, they drew me to look at them as images; quite a feat when you’re looking from a few inches at a face which is higher than you!
Ditto the V&A Street Art images: I didn’t expect to like these, but found them lively and engaging – although their make-up meant that a number had problems to be noted – mostly involving cockling (waviness across the sheet). We had to overcome issues with static electricity to clean a perspex case and install a couple of pieces of book art without additional fluff – we couldn’t find an anti-static brush and it had to be done while the V&A couriers were on site (that’s the problem with part-time colleagues – not there to ask where things are….). Anyway, my retired electrical design engineer father (aka the Herbert Technical Advice telephone help desk – he’s the sort who can think around most types of problem) suggested handling with slightly damp cloths – which worked much better than we expected. So now it’s just a case of routine inspecting to make sure cockling doesn’t get worse, and keeping the usual eye on environmental conditions.
I’d completed most of a packaging job for some artwork from a previous exhibition being sent back to India, when I received a frantic call mid-afternoon from the colleague I was doing it for to say the courier suddenly wanted pick it up in the morning! We both dropped everything and a surprisingly short time later the lot was bomb-proof and ready with no corners cut. Fortunately, not many folks made it through to look through the conservation room doors to be treated to the sight of us on the floor with large bits of packing material, parcel tape etc. It doesn’t do to have too much dignity in this job – but maybe a line should be drawn at photographs of me cutting card on the only large flat surface available at short notice…
I managed to escape for a day’s training on paper repair techniques. It’s a long time since I did any bench work, but there’s some needs doing soon & I need to keep updated. Apparently the best gelatine for some of this is your SupaCook standard! – although Japanese seaweed and fish swim-bladders also come into play – and of course good old wheat starch paste.
And now I need to tidy my desk and find the Industrial Methylated Spirit licence (except I think it’s called something else now, it’s so long since we had to buy any) and get a chemical order in while there’s still an offer on the Stoddard solvent Jill needs for cleaning paintings (see Jill’s blog). If things are sticking to their usual pattern, this will trigger a phone-call to say something has cropped up….