Richard Mulholland

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Analysing Chinese Export Paintings

The V&A’s Conservation Science department has been working on a collection of Chinese export paintings, looking closely at the materials that the artists used and trying to uncover the secrets of an important part of the history of Britain in China. Sonia Bellesia, former intern in the Conservation Science section explains more… Originally sold as souvenirs to Western merchants […]

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Bad Karma? Looking at Jain Paintings

I’m fascinated by the V&A’s collection of Jain paintings. Examining them closely, understanding how they were created is fascinating. The manuscripts were originally collected by the V&A for their visual appeal, rather than as religious documents. However, they are also of significant religious and cultural value to the Jain community. Mehool Sanghrajka, current Director of Education at the […]

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Flatpacked!

An army of curators and conservators have spent countless hours working on objects that will end up on display in the refurbished Europe 1600-1800 galleries later this year. One of the objects needing some attention is this table by David Roentgen. Before work could begin to clean and conserve the table, it was examined by […]

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Playing with dolls?

As part of my Heritage Lottery Fund/Institute of Conservation Internship at the V&A, I’ve been working with Furniture Conservation preparing ‘Small Stories: Dolls Houses and the History of the Home’ , an exhibition that opens at the Museum of Childhood later in the year. The V&A Museum of Childhood has a collection of around 100 […]

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Spicing things up!

One of the more unusual activities for us in the conservation department this week was to restore damage to Laurent Mareschal’s Jameel Prize installation ‘Beiti’. The curious fingers of a member of the public (undoubtedly interested in confirming that Mareschal’s intriguing tiled floor pattern was in fact made with spice and not ceramic tiles) had […]

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Definitely not ‘Point-and-Click’: Photographing the Raphael Cartoons in 1858.

In one of the V&A’s stores, kept particularly cold to preserve them, are a collection of rather unusual photographic works that I have been intrigued by for some years. They are twelve collodion glass plate negatives made in 1858 by Charles Thurston Thompson (1816—1868), the V&A’s first photographer. These negatives were used to document the […]

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‘for I have too much preferred the picturesque to the beautifull…’: Looking at Constable’s watercolour sketches

Whenever I’ve thought of John Constable, I’ve always thought of a long tradition, starting with Dutch landscape painters, a painter, where you could walk straight into the scene and join the horses wading through the river or sit under a bow of a tree and gaze at the view of Salisbury Cathedral.

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An Unknown Sketch by Constable

V&A Paintings Conservators Nicola Costaras and Clare Richardson have discovered a previously unknown oil sketch by John Constable in the V&A’s collection. The original sketch, ‘Branch Hill Pond, Hampstead’, had been glued to a canvas lining at some stage before it came into the V&A’s collection in 1888, completely obscuring the sketch on the other side. Suspecting that […]

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Play it Again SAM: Replicating Cybernetic Sculpture using 3D Printing

There are a number of examples of sculptures created in the 20th century using synthetic materials that have already degraded to a point where conservation is unfeasible (and sometimes even impossible). This can also be the case where where works have been made with electronic components that have become obsolete and impossible to replace. In these contexts, […]

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Just in time for Halloween: A disembodied skull comes to the studio

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, and as such, one might surmise that its conservation department would not have to deal with the issues surrounding human remains. That said, the theatre and performance collection at the V&A contains a number of unusual objects, one of them being this somewhat macabre […]

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