Isabelle Egan ACR
I stabilise, repair and restore objects that have been damaged or simply degraded through time, on behalf of both institutions and private clients.
I have been running my own studio for five years. Prior to that, I have ten years' experience of working for the British Library, working in the Large Format studio, which specialised in maps, parchment, manuscripts. I conserve and restore watercolours, gouaches, books, pamphlets, papyrus, birch bark, posters, prints, archives, albums, textile pattern albums, globes and fans and worked within a national institution for stewards of our national heritage, as well as private clients. I have expertise in stabilising mould-affected artifacts and make bespoke housing for objects. I am also a contractor to Tate and National Portrait Gallery.
My practice is ethically grounded, and my approach is contextual and investigative. I try to always keep the history of the object, and respect all tangible and intangible aspects of the object. Objects are collected by museum and collectors whose museum or collectible meaning, over the years, might change; that is the reason why, as conservators, we have to respect all of the aspects of the object.
I was so pleased to have found Isabelle and have deploy her expertise on my antique artwork. Her sensitivity and skill extends beyond the materials and the client's needs, to history of the work itself. She chooses how to most appropriately grant the artwork in question a fully extended life.
Fred CasellaPrivate Client
Isabelle Egan first rescued, for me, a 1930 Raoul Dufy print - the frame and glazing had been smashed and the print left in an outhouse in Nice for many years… despite discolouration from age and neglect, not to mention the dozens of thin cuts to the surface from the broken glass, the print emerged as near perfect as you could wish! How? has to be alchemy..! Plus dedication, stunning amount of knowledge and patience - masses of patience. Since the Dufy, she has rescued a brown and mildewed John Piper and various foxed and aged early twentieth century prints… I cannot speak too highly of her work, she rescues art, and give the works another chance to tease and please the eye.
Geoffrey PowellProprietor, twentiethcenturyprints.com
To whom it may concern
I am delighted to be able to provide a reference to Isabelle Egan in support of her work as conservator. As curator of antiquarian mapping at the British Library and responsible for the conservation programme of national map collection, I worked regularly and closely with Isabelle in identifying problems and producing solutions to damaged, often large paper items.
I recall two occasions in particular where Isabelle found solutions to collection problems. The first was in her treatment and repair of a large 18th century folding map of London that had been backed
on linen and torn along the folds. After restoring the map Isabelle had to reassemble the map in order for it to be folded. She researched methods in which 18th century maps were folded and
produced a mock-up in order that the gaps between the map panels were of sufficient width to
allow the map to fold properly.
Another occasion was where Isabelle extensively restored a damaged, torn and varnished Russian school wall map of 1902 in order for it to be displayed in the British Library’s major 2010 exhibition ‘Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art.’ After the exhibition this large map needed to be rolled and stored, for which Isabelle researched and designed an ingenious cylindrical container.
Isabelle always showed great sensitivity to the integrity of historical works on paper, whilst recognising their continuing circumstances of use in a Library context. Moreover she was a joy to work with and I am pleased to recommend her.
Tom HarperLead Curator, Antiquarian Mapping, British Library
To whom it may concern
I was Isabelle Egan’s Manager at the British Library for two years.
I confirm that Isabelle could offer a conservation service of good standard in an efficient and professional manner. I’ve summered below two case studies as examples of her work and approach.
- Pothi OR15021,
Isabelle consulted with our Curators, and undertook thorough literature research on this object. Mostly the repairs were to the boards. Her conservation consisted and delivered professional and well executed repairs and matching of colour. Her approach was of minimal intervention while stabilising the object so there was also reinforcing of folds and consolidating of the friable pigment. The object retained its characteristics, it is now stable. The project was executed to the estimated time and the curator and I were delighted with the results.
- Papyrus LXXXIII
Isabelle needed to removed backings, however I would like to mention the papyrus and its rehousing. She consulted with the Curator and undertook literature research into the materials and consolation. She then discussed all these aspects with the British museum papyrus expert. Next she studied the BL storage areas to consider the housing possibilities before designing and making samples for approval by the curator. During this process she introduced the material Vivak to our department, she arranged Oddy testing of the Vivak, and, continued refining the housing after feedback from curatorial staff, this she disseminated to colleagues. This project demonstrated a good execution of a treatment to papyrus, which allows researchers to view both sides of Papyrus, and the housing is lighter, and has fewer H&S implications than glass. The object is less likely to be damaged.
Mark BrowneManager of Conservation, British Library
...Isabelle discovered some original artwork by the artist G. Mouton: these she mounted on special paper and encapsulated and placed a small postcard image on the outside so that the contents could be identified by the thumbnail image.
Finally, Isabelle produced a useful handlist detailing for each item its original pressmark, item number, title, and new location. Thanks to the high quality of the conservation and rehousing work done by Isabelle and her colleagues, the collection is now fit to be issued to readers. The posters are no longer folded but housed in melinex folders so that they can be viewed without being handled by readers. Prior to treatment the items were so brittle that we did not even know what the collection contained. We have since displayed posters from the collection in two British Library exhibitions. I also wrote a blog about two US posters printed in Paris in anticipation of expected German invasion in September 1914: these were described as a ‘wonderful find’ by the official US historian. None of this would have been possible without the work done by Isabelle and her conservation colleagues.
Teresa VernonLead Curator Romance Collections, British Library.
Paper & water: washing paper in conservation.
IAP. New methods of paper bathing and stain removal. Course taught by Richard Wolbers.
Inpainting course, Rita Udina Studio.Barcelona, Spain. Methods of retouching, inpainting, infilling, new materials.
Conservation of Globes. Certificated course run by Hornemann Museum.
Fitzwilliam Museum, Risk Analysis for Museums.