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Icon furniture and wood group symposium 2017

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The Linnean Society

Burlington House




United Kingdom

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Registration is now open for the Icon Furniture and Wooden Objects Group’s Annual Symposium 2017.

The Furniture and Wooden Objects Group are subsidising the event so tickets are offered at a discounted price.

Refreshments and a buffet lunch are included in the ticket price.

The symposium is to be held on:

Friday 12 May, 2017

9:30 – 5:00

The Linnean Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BF

The full schedule for the day is as follows:

9:30am Registration and refreshments

10:00am Welcome from the Furniture and Wood Group Chair, Alex Owen

10:00 to 10:30
Francesca Cialoni and Federica Traversa
Istituto di Restauro delle Marche, Academy of Fine Arts Macerata, Italy
The restoration of a polychrome wooden balcony from the church of ‘San Vincenzo Martire’ in Macerata, Italy

The presentation will describe the conservation and restoration carried out on an 18th century painted and gilded wooden balcony, part of a group of seven other wooden balconies located inside the church of S. Vincenzo Martire in Macerata, Italy, and created between 1763 and 1832.

In particular in this presentation will focus on the practical treatment of the balcony. The condition of the balcony will first be described. The practical treatment will then be discussed. This work included the reconstruction of missing gilded wooden carvings, the consolidation of degraded paint layers and wooden surfaces, and the reconstruction of the structure using a range of traditional and contemporary jointing and stabilization methods.

10:30 to 11:00
Charles Stable
National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh
Houses in Motion: Reconstruction and Installation of the Hamilton Palace State Drawing Room at the National Museum Scotland

In 2014 National Museums Scotland (NMS) commenced a major 3-year capital project to develop 10 galleries to display the museum’s decorative art and technology collections. One of these new galleries highlights 13th-19th century European decorative art including objects previously in the ownership of the Dukes of Hamilton. As a focal point of this gallery it was proposed to reconstruct part of the State Drawing Room from Hamilton Palace, Lanarkshire.
This paper aims to outline the key elements of this project and the challenges of reconstructing a period room interior as one element of a museum refurbishment project. A range of both logistical and treatment decisions will be discussed.

As part of this project innovative methods of engaging with the public via social media and press releases were also used allowing the project to contribute significantly to the museum’s fundraising efforts. This media content was included in gallery digital interactives as part of the display and interpretation and will also be discussed as part of this talk.

11:00 to 11:30 Break for refreshments

11:30 to 12:00
Tirza Mol
University of Antwerp/Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Nigritella Nigra: the conservation of a contemporary chest of drawers

The treatment of a chest of drawers, ‘Nigritella Nigra’ (1993), by the Italian architect, writer, designer and painter Alessandro Mendini will be discussed. His work often combines materials contrasting in colour and texture and Nigritella Nigra is a good example of this. The object (97 cm x 50 cm, H 110 cm) is composed of five encased drawers on a base. Particular attention will be paid to the treatment of the topmost drawer case, painted by the artist Lucio Giudici, which was affected by numerous lacunas and a peeling finish, which make it difficult to read the drawings.

The talk will address the decision-making processes involved in this treatment, including the choice and motivation for a specific consolidant and the application technique. The decision whether or not to retouch the lacunas (and the eventual technique and materials used) will also be discussed.

12:00 to 12:30
Ines Bravo
City and Guilds of London Art School, London
Deconstructing the history of a 17th-Century footstool

The early 17th-century polychrome wooden footstool that will be examined in this talk belongs to a wider set of furniture that comprises of an x-frame chair, a back stool, and two stools, which are all currently at Knole, a National Trust property in Kent.

The method of construction of the footstool is a clear indication that it was most likely originally a different piece of furniture that was reassembled in an unusual way to construct this footstool. Comparing the individual components of the footstool to the other pieces of furniture of the same set provided the clues to what the original piece of furniture may have been.

Revealing this entangled web, by identifying the materials and deconstructing the history of the footstool, was important in deciding the most appropriate treatment approach, which will also be discussed.

12:30 to 1:00
Jurgen Huber
Wallace Collection, London
Riesener Revealed: Documentation and Observation…The Journey So Far

This talk describes work undertaken as part of the ‘Riesener Project’. The aim of the project is to document the construction, techniques, and materials employed in pieces attributed to Jean Henri Riesener. The goal is to better understand Riesener’s workshop practices, to confirm our existing knowledge regarding past alterations, and to discover previously unsuspected alterations. The use of modern technology to digitally re-create impressions of the furniture in former times, and to visualise any changes in appearance will also be discussed. We have already established that some constructional details are repeated throughout all the pieces examined so far, and further research will help to provide a base for comparative technological and art-historical/archival study.

1:00 to 2:00 Lunch

2:00 to 2:30
Oliver Heal
Historian, furniture restorer, and former chairman of Heal’s.
Sir Ambrose Heal – between Arts & Crafts and Utility

Sir Ambrose Heal (1872-1959) – furniture designer, manufacturer, and retailer - was the man who established the reputation for good design for which the Heal’s furnishing business in London is still known. He was a very significant figure in design and retail developments in early 20th century Britain, making distinctive, well-made furniture available at reasonable prices to a broad middle-class public. He was in effect the link between the largely unrealised 19th century ideals of William Morris and the Arts & Crafts Movement and the basic Utility furniture introduced by Sir Gordon Russell during World War Two. His grandson, Oliver Heal, who published a major reference work on the subject in 2014, will give this illustrated talk about his life and work.

2:30 to 3:00
Chelsea McKibbin
Natural History Museum, London
Conserving One of Natures Giants: Treatment of a Sequoia Transection

A transection of a Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), 4.5 metres in diameter, has been on display in the central hall of the Natural History Museum, London (NHM) since 1893. This talk covers its recent conservation as part of a gallery redevelopment. The primary aims of this treatment were to clean and condition check the specimen, revive the facing surface and stabilise the bark.

The previous condition of the giant sequoia will be discussed along with details of the range of previous treatments evident and how they have deteriorated over time. The present treatment process will then be detailed including efforts to clean and consolidate the surface, as well as the use of gelled systems to remove previous coatings. Combining techniques from furniture, paintings and natural history conservation has not only revived this specimen for continued display, but has ensured its preservation for years to come.

3:00 to 3:30 Break for refreshments

3:30 to 4:00
Boudewien Westra
Plowden & Smith Ltd., London
The conservation of nine Japanese botanical panel paintings

This talk describes the conservation of a group of nine panels that arrived at the studios of Plowden & Smith Ltd., containing Japanese botanical paintings. It is believed that these panels are late 19th century and are currently owned by a private client. Each piece features wood from a particular tree, with a radial plane panel framed by the associated bark and depicting several flowers, leaves and fruit of the corresponding tree, along with paper labels giving the tree species in Latin and Japanese.

During the symposium, several aspects of the Japanese panels will be discussed. Firstly the construction of the panels, the painting techniques and label characteristics will be described. Following this, the considerations, methods and results of the conservation treatment of the labels, wooden surfaces and painted areas will be discussed.

4:00 to 4:30
Mohamed Moustafa
Grand Egyptian Museum, Egypt
The analytical study and conservation processes of a scribe box from the Old Kingdom, Egypt

The scribe box under study dates back to the old kingdom. It was excavated by the Italian expedition in Qena (1935-1937). This talk aims to describe the analytical techniques used in order to identify and understand the box and it’s components. The authors were particularly interested in the use of infrared reflectance transmission imaging (RTI-IR) to improve the legibility of the hidden inscriptions on the lid.

This talk will discuss the results of analysis carried out with the aim of identifying the original and later restoration materials used on this object. The talk will also describe the cleaning, consolidation and other treatments carried out in the wood conservation laboratory of the Grand Egyptian museum –conservation center (GEM-CC).

4:30 to 4:40 Closing remarks from Alex Owen

We look forward to welcoming you.

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The Linnean Society

Burlington House




United Kingdom

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