Hinemihi paint consolidation
Conservation of the paint on the sculptures of Hinemihi, a Maori meeting house, which has been outside for over 100 years
Hinemihi is a Maori meeting house who has stood in grounds of Clandon House for over 120 years. She is one of the oldest meeting houses in the world and unusually the paint has not been stripped regularly from her carvings. Due to this it was decided that her paint should be stabilised to prevent more of it from being lost. Prior to consolidation the paint needed to be cleaned. For those carvings that were inside the meeting house this involved cleaning with swabs of de-ionised water. However, several of the carvings had been outdoors and had lichen and algae growing on and through the paint. This needed to be removed to reduce the risk of it growing in the future. This had to be done with great care to prevent large losses to the paint, and was done using a combination of mechaical cleaning and swabs of de-ionised water.
The final location of the carvings had not been determined when conservation started. It is hoped that she will not be fully outdoors in the future but it is likely she will not be in an environmentally controlled location. Therefore, the choice of adhesive was limited to those that would suitable for these conditions. Although the paint was not originally low binder, it’s exposure to the environment has resulted it in becoming so. This meant the majority of adhesives tested caused severe staining. Lascaux Medium for Consolidation 4176 was chosen, after first pre-wetting with white spirits. This did result in a slight darkening but it was considered the best option.