Anglo-Saxon CSI: Sittingbourne

Conservation matters in wales 2010
December 17, 2010, 2:52 pm
Filed under: events

As promised last week here is a short review on the small conference held at the Cynon Valley Museum and Gallery.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures as was sat right at the front and was listening intently to everyone (honest…), but I did manage to steal one picture from Nigel Blackamore’s Twitter (also a nice comment about CSI: too, thanks!).

Throughout the day there were 7 presentations in total from a range of speakers, including private and museum conservators, students and consultants.  The theme of the talks centred around ‘added value’ in conservation.  Hopefully I can remember some bits from each of these…

Place and Chips: reconstructing a sketchbook – but how do we display it? – Emily O’Reilly, National Museum Wales

The first talk of the day was from Emily O’Reilly of National Museum Wales (NMW).  The talk concerned sketches drawn by the artist Francis Place on a trip to Wales, their conservation, and the transfer of the drawings to a digital database.

Place and chips – get it?

Place = fish

Chips = computer chips

She’s here all week!  The presentation was very interesting and it was good to see the research involved in working on such objects.  The images will be put on Rhagor, the NMW website for collections and the stories behind them, in the near future, if they’re not already on there – well worth having a look.

A Very Odd Dice: Reconstructing a Roman Bone Dice – David Pearson, Cardiff University

Second up was David Pearson, a recent graduate from the BSc conservation course at Cardiff.  He was speaking about a Roman bone dice he conserved and the challenges he faced when working on the object.

The dice had come from the Newport Museum and had been subject to extensive damage when ‘yoofs’ had interfered with the display case a few years ago.  David’s job was to readhere and gap-fill the dice, but he faced a number of dilemmas in the choice of materials.  The presentation showed his thought process and testing methods for deciding on the materials to be used.  Perhaps a conservation first, he did NOT use Paraloid B-72!

Why the title?  The faces of the dice that were complete were the odd faces.

The Dilemmas of a Book Conservator – Juliet Clay, Private Conservator and Cardiff University

The presentation from Juliet Clay showed the numerous dilemmas that a book conservator faces.  She used examples from her own work as a freelance conservator to talk about the traditional techniques that she uses and the types of damage encountered when conserving old books.  It was interesting to hear the conservators approach in relation to what the client desires.

CSI: Sittingbourne – The Value of Volunteers – Cardiff University

At midday it was me.  I shan’t go into details about the talk a great deal, as all the information can be found on this blog, but I spoke about how using volunteers can enhance what can be achieved when working on objects of this nature and the potential benefits of such projects to conservation in the future.  I also went into the impact that the project has had within the local community and the range of extra opportunities that we can get with projects of this kind.

Overall, I think it went alright (…enthusiastic as usual you’ll see!).  The talk was well received and the response was really positive.  Hopefully I managed to give everyone credit and show how successful everything has been over the past 16 months.  I dressed up all smart as well, what a good boy.


Lunch is worthy of a mention here – everyone seems to bang on about how good the food is at the Cynon Valley Museum is and I can confirm that it did live up to the hype.  Worth a visit for this, and there’s a good social history collection there as well!

Conservators, Artists, Damage and Value – Peter David, Ceramics Conservator

I’ve heard Peter David speak previously about a slipware plate that he conserved, something that was really interesting.  This presentation was no different.  He talked about the values placed on different objects and demonstrated how the significance of the same object can be altered by a range of factors and over a period of time.  The presentation gave no answers, as he said himself, but it highlighted a number of questions that conservators should be asking in the future where more modern objects are concerned.

CyMAL’s Significance Model for Assessing Collections – Sarah Paul, CyMAL

Sarah spoke of the proposed plans for introducing a significance model for museum collections in Wales.  The aim is not to focus basing significance solely on what an object is worth in monetary terms, but rather on its cultural significance and value to the public.  Some museums have already adopted strategies like this, but this guideline will perhaps aid other museums in the future.

Another step towards professionalism? Conservation Standards – David Leigh, Consultant

David Leigh spoke about the value of developing standards in conservation.  It’s been a subject that seems to have been developed a lot more over the last few years within the profession and it is something that will surely help and make the profession more organised and allow us to work towards similar goals.  The subject is going to be more relevant in the years to come so it is  worthwhile subject, even if it isn’t the most interesting.

Overall, the day was really well organised and the range of topics was really interesting.  The museum, and Heather Perry, organised a good day – the conference was professional, but at the same time relaxed.  The museum is well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area as well.  As my first conference where I have spoken, it was a nice one to start at and I’m pleased, and maybe quite surprised, that it went so smoothly.  Thanks to Dana and everyone else involved with CSI: so far and Happy Christmas!

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