Collection ConservationIntroduction | Essay | Paintings | Paper | Preventive | Textiles
National Gallery of Australia papers presented for the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material National Conference 2008
Valentina Kulagina Poster: Kunstausstellung der Sowjetunion [Art exhibition of the Soviet Union] 1930 colour lithograph Purchased with the assistance of Jack and Mel Banning 1993 Collection of the National Gallery of Australia more detail
Kate Eccles-Smith, Conservation Project Manager, Art and Archival, ACT
Andrea Wise, Senior Paper Conservator, National Gallery of Australia
In the early years of the 20th century Russia was in a state of extraordinary intellectual and cultural upheaval. The art produced during the period is a reflection of this turmoil. The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) owns a collection of 167 Russian satirical illustrated magazines, purchased in 1981. The magazines date from between 1905 and 1907 and were produced when censorship regulations were relaxed after the first revolution in 1905. They oppose and vilify the prevailing authorities. In 1907 there was a strong Tsarist government repression in reaction to the revolt, during which more liberal censorship disappeared and political comment was forbidden. The magazines which were, anyway, ephemeral were actively destroyed; pulped or recycled in response to a lack of basic materials or as an effort by people to rid themselves of incriminating subversive material, making this collection extremely rare and valuable.
Each individual magazine is made up of several double sided pages of text and illustrations, created in a range and combinations of printing media including, line block, lithography, wood engraving and letterpress. The paper supports are poor quality, degraded, brown and brittle. Typical problems include surface dirt, staining, tears, losses and extreme acid induced discolouration and brittleness. Art and Archival was engaged to work in collaboration with NGA Conservation staff to examine, document, analyse, and treat the collection. Increased accessibility and display potential was a priority, achieved through appropriate treatment and storage. Full investigation of the collection in terms of materials and techniques was vital to establish the parameters for display and storage, ensure detailed documentation, and provide a better understanding of manufacture. To achieve this the works were photographed, documented, paper samples taken from a representative number for analysis, and printing techniques were examined and documented. This paper details the course of the project undertaken over a six month period.
André Roosevelt Legong dancer, Bali1928 gelatin silver photograph 23.0 x 17.9 cm National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
The Picture Paradise: Asia-Pacific Photography 1840s-1940s exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) coincides with the National Photography Festival in Canberra, July to November 2008. The exhibition chronicles developments in photography from India and Sri Lanka through Southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific to the west coast of North America. It is the first broadly comparative survey of the history of photography in the Asia-Pacific region, from the formative decades of the 1840s to the 1860s, to the early 1940s and the advent of World War II. It includes photographs related to travel and landscape, together with images charting the rich cultural diversity of the Asia-Pacific region. It covers a succession of unique photographic genres and processes which flourished during the period: early, jewel-like daguerreotype portraits, light sensitive, delicate salted paper negatives and prints; extravagant, exotic travel albums and enormous, fragile, panoramic landscapes. Such diversity was made possible by a burgeoning photographic industry and the rapid developments in materials and technology. The paper will outline the challenges these varied formats created for conservation and discuss how close collaboration between the Curator, exhibition designers and conservators was vital to devise appropriate supports, showcases and lighting, and
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