Posts categorized as Conservation

The Conservation of Poedua – Part 11

  • Poedua flower after cleaning
  • Poedua flower after cleaning
  • detail of flower before cleaning
  • detail of flower before cleaning

The varnish removal of Poedua is progressing slowly and painstakingly and we are now almost halfway through this important part of the treatment.  As we have mentioned before, removal of discoloured varnish can have a dramatic effect on the overall balance, colour and depth of a painting.  Because discoloured varnishes like Poedua’s are usually a… Read more »

Re-articulation of Phar Lap’s skeleton – bold decisions and expert advice

  • How to mount a horse? Hayden Prujean and Alex Davies discuss the re-articulation of Phar Lap's skeleton. Photo: Te Papa
  • Robert Clendon and Dr Alex Davies discuss the positioning of Phar Lap's left forelimb and scapular. Photo: Te Papa
  • Dr Alex Davies checks the positioning of Phar Lap's thoracic vertebrae. Photo: Te Papa
  • Phar Lap's trunk skeleton imposed on a life-sized image of the mounted skin held in Melbourne Museum. Photo: Te Papa

Phar Lap’s skeleton is one of Te Papa’s best known exhibits. Perhaps the most famous horse ever to emerge from Australasia, the national identity of Phar Lap is as intensely debated each side of the Tasman as is who invented the pavlova. Foaled at Seadown, near Timaru, in 1926, Phar Lap was bought by the… Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua – Part 10

  • label 8
  • The topmost label once the paper remnants had been removed revealing 36.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011.  © Te Papa
  • During the removal process. This image shows the paper label coated with a layer of methyl cellulose.  The Mylar on top ensures the methyl cellulose does not 'dry-up'.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011. © Te Papa
  • The painting on the easel in the Paintings Conservation lab.  You can see some areas where the varnish has been removed; the sky to the right of Poedua's arm and square patches in the tapa cloth.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011.  © Te Papa

Hello everyone, we are back with our fortnightly updates on the treatment of John Webber’s Poedua. We are progressing slowing with the cleaning of the painting.  At this stage, the cleaning involves the varnish removal and the removal of overpaints (later additions by a previous restorer). Today’s blog post will focus on one stage of… Read more »

Isabel McIlraith – Textile Conservation Volunteer

This week we heard with sadness that Isabel McIlraith has passed away at the age of 104 years. For many years Isabel was one of a small band of volunteers working with Valerie Carson in the Conservation Unit, helping to care for the Te Papa textile collections. She will be remembered here with gratitude not… Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua – part 9

Hello Poedua followers!  Mel and I have taken a break from our treatment of Poedua for a while in order to focus on some other paintings conservation commitments. In the past two months we have been kept busy working on a loan of 23 paintings for the exhibition Painting New Zealand which is currently on display at Tauranga… Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua – Part 8

  • Image of Poedua in its frame immediately after it arrived at Te Papa. Photograph taken by Michael Hall. © Te Papa.
  • Upper left corner detail at the back showing cut-down mitre with remnant of original key plus later key across mitre. Photograph taken by Matthew O'Reilly. © Te Papa.
  • Upper right corner detail at the back showing uncut mitre with original cross key in position; compare with upper left corner image. Photograph taken by Matthew O'Reilly. © Te Papa.
  • Upper left corner detail showing the cut-down mitre with associated loss of motif along the mitre

If you have been following Mel and Katherine’s Poedua treatment blogs you may be surprised to read another’s voice on this one – a voice from the edge as it were. I’m Matthew O’Reilly, Framer of Paintings here at Te Papa. My previous blogs were quite some time ago now. Katherine and Mel have needed to… Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua – Part 7

  • The same area after the varnish has been removed.  Photograph taken by Katherine Campbell, 2011.  © Te Papa
  • Melanie cleaning a small test area in the drapery.  Photograph taken by Katherine Campbell, 2011. © Te Papa
  • More varnish removal test areas.  The white hazy areas on some spots are caused by varnish residues remaining on the surface.  This occurs when the solution does not work effectively at removing the entire varnish layer.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011. © Te Papa.
  • varnish testing 007

In the paintings conservation lab, we have been working away steadily on the varnish removal of Poedua.  Every now-and-then we come across a painting where this stage of the treatment is relatively easy, where a simple organic solvent solution is effective in removing the varnish without any effect to any part of the underlying paint… Read more »

The conservation of Poedua: part 6

  • Varnish removal tests
  • Varnish removal tests
  • Test patches
  • Testing the varnish solubility

Now that the painting has had its layer of surface dirt removed, the next step in the treatment is the removal of the varnish layer.  A lot of the principles that we talked about with surface cleaning, also apply to the removal of varnish layers.  Therefore, prior to beginning it’s important to establish as closely as… Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua: Part 5

  • The painting after the surface cleaning.  The varnish layer still hides the true colours and tones, but already we see a great improvement.  Photograph by Melanie Carlisle, 2011. © Te Papa.
  • Katherine works cleaning the top left corner.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011.  © Te Papa.
  • The cleaning is almost there!  The top left of this detail is all that remains of the surface dirt layer.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011. © Te Papa.
  • Cleaning progressed from right to left.  In this detail the difference between the dirty and the cleaned sections is distinct.  Photograph taken by Katherine Campbell, 2011.  © Te Papa.

In our last post we discussed the process of testing to identify the most appropriate cleaning solution to remove the surface dirt layer from the painting. After finding the best cleaning solution for the painting the surface cleaning can begin, but we always carefully monitor our progress to ensure that the cleaning solution is working… Read more »