Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Temporary Exhibition: Preserving What is Valued - A World of Repairs - Part 2

One of two ceramics on loan from private collectors
demonstrating repairs made using the kintsugi technique
with lacquer and gold © Pitt Rivers Museum
Back in May we posted a blog about preparations for a temporary exhibition curated by the Conservation Department demonstrating original repairs made to objects when they were still in use. This is an update on the earlier blog now that the exhibition has just been installed into the display case on the Lower Gallery.

Despite the last minute addition of an excellent gourd, discovered by Jem and Faye while working to improve storage of the reserve collections, we managed to have everything ready for mount making on Monday 1st June as planned. We also borrowed from private collectors two ceramics demonstrating the kintsugi repair technique, the starting point for our exhibition plans.

Most labels were designed to include a detailed image of the repaired area on each object to help focus the visitor's attention on the part they should be looking at. We were keen however, to not put too much information on each label but leave it for visitors to think about  what significance the repair might have, after reading the introductory panel text.

Mock-up of the display once mounts were complete
© Pitt Rivers Museum
Display Technicians Chris Wilkinson and Alan Cooke had produced a scale mock-up of the final display case and were ready to go immediately. We were surprised to find that it took them about a week to complete the mock-up, which I think was also a relief to them given the complexities of working on the re-display of the Cook Voyages Collections, from which they were taking a therapeutic break.

At this stage the previous exhibition in the case was deinstalled, allowing Chris and Alan to prepare the case by filling and sanding holes and re-painting. It is important to do this a few weeks before the objects are installed to allow the paint to dry properly and any fumes from the paint to dissipate as they could cause adverse chemical reactions with the materials used on the objects. This is why you may see display case doors left open when you visit the Museum. At this stage they also painted and prepared the panels and plinth to be used in the display.

Chris and Alan mount the final copies
of labels and text © Pitt Rivers Museum

The next task before installation was to prepare the final labels and text. Katherine Clough, who has volunteered in the Conservation Department for a few years in many capacities, had accepted the challenge of producing a poster for the exhibition. The key element of the design uses several detailed images of the repairs fitted together to look like the world. We had added the strap-line 'A World of Repairs' to the exhibition title to be more explanatory on the poster. We used Katherine's 'world of repairs' motif in a semi-translucent way on the panel text to give it a bit of a lift and tie it into the poster.

On Thursday 25th June, a little ahead of schedule, Chris and Alan installed the objects in the case where they had already added the pre-painted panels earlier in the week. They started early to have the case closed and locked when the Museum opened at 10.00 a.m. On Friday 26th we adjusted the lighting in the case slightly to prevent too much light hitting the textiles, the materials in this display most prone to light damage.

Left: Installation of the objects, right: Alan and Chris take a moment to appreciate their labours © Pitt Rivers Museum
When we set out to produce the exhibition we were keen to write a gallery trail to enable visitors to see more repaired objects that are permanently on display. Having narrowed down the list, Andrew (with a little help from Madeleine) has produced a colour trail, which is available beside the display case. This again uses Katherine's 'world of repairs' motif on the cover. There are lots of trails available in the Museum but they are aimed at children and we wanted to see what interest there would be from adults. Hopefully the Gallery Assistants will be able to observe how many people use the trail over the coming months.

Cover of the Gallery Trail
linked to the exhibition
Finally, this is a good opportunity to mention some of the other tie-in events that will be coming up over the 6-month run of the exhibition. On the 18th and 19th September Tom van Deijnen will be running darning masterclasses in the Museum's annexe. Tom is best known for his visible mending program where a 'beautiful darn is worn as a badge of honour'. Follow this link to book a place on one of Tom's workshops.

In November traditional lacquerware artists Muneaki Shimode and Takahiko Sato from Kyoto will be artists in residence at the Museum for 10 days, demonstrating the kintsugi technique of repairing ceramics. The residency will include gallery demonstrations, an evening event and half-day practical workshops. There will be information on how to book a place on a workshop appearing on the the Museum website very soon - so keep watching this space.

Heather Richardson
Head of Conservation

No comments:

Post a Comment