Brecknock Museum Opening 2020: Gallery Displays
Works on paper collections: Interventive and preventive conservation treatment and preparation for display
A collection of twenty-two works on paper was surveyed, condition assessed and prepared for the Museum opening displays. The collection included prints, typed and letterpress documents, photographs, watercolours, Eisteddfod programmes and bindings.
Examples of display items: ‘The Fat Heifer’ 1832, a hand coloured lithograph on rag wove paper. Prints, manuscripts and watercolours relating to ‘Sarah Siddons’ the 19th century actress. ‘Castle Fives’ 1786, letterpress printed document on rag laid paper. ‘National Eisteddfod, Brecon’ programme 1894, letterpress on low grade paper. ‘School Modulator’ circa 1890, letterpress and hand coloured collage, rag wove paper on linen with wooden hanging bars. Two photographs of a ‘Golden Eagle’ circa 1930 by Arthur Brooke, silver gelatine prints. Two large watercolour and gouache landscape paintings on rag wove paper by Sam Garratt 1920 in original gilt frames including ‘Newton Pool’ where a second fine quality watercolour of ‘Llangynidr Bridge’ was discovered on the back during conservation.
Most of the works were in poor condition, for example: surface and ingrained dirt, slight mould, degraded synthetic tapes and glue repairs, unsuitable attachments, brittle back boards, tears and losses, cockling and warping. All items had inadequate storage and display materials.
Conservation treatments included: surface cleaning, extraneous damaging materials removed, mould and pest removal. Humidity treatments to deacidify, stabilise and reduce staining and cockling. Extensive repair work to tears and losses, pressing and minimal retouching. The discovery of ‘Llangynidir Bridge’ meant planned conservation work had to adapt in order to safely carry out board and glue removal resulting in a second complete painting by Sam Garratt.
Following treatments suitable storage and display methods were implemented: new conservation mounts and frames, isolating barriers used within original framing materials, smaller loose items appropriately attached to rigid archival supports. Bespoke cradles for the bindings and Eisteddffod programmes were supplied by Sayaka Fukuda ACR. The Garratt frames were conserved by Cath Lloyd Haslam ACR prior to reinstatement with paintings. The double-sided Garratt painting was reinstated with its frame so that it can be reversed at any time in the future.
Full written and photographic documentation was provided following the project.