By Stuart Frost
When I last wrote about this Egyptian tunic in June of this year I promised readers that I’d provide an update. The conservation work on this rare survival is now complete and the garment is ready for installation into Gallery 8: Faiths and Empires 300-1250, one of ten Medieval & Renaissance Galleries at the V&A which will open later this year.
When installed in the display case the tunic will be supported on a specially constructed form or structure that will ensure the delicate object is displayed effectively and appropriately. The Medieval & Renaissance Galleries will include over one thousand eight hundred objects, a vast number of objects of all shapes, materials and sizes. The logistics involved in installing such a large number of objects is mind-boggling. Object installation has had to be phased over a long period of time to enable staff at the Museum to cope with the demanding workload. The Egyptian tunic will be installed in its case during September, a few months before the public opening date.
The tunic can’t be displayed as it would have been worn because this would create creases and folds that would expose the garment to unacceptable levels of stress. However visitors will be able to try on a complete replica which will give an extremely accurate sense of what it was like to wear the tunic. When I wrote about this replica in June, work was still in progress but as you can see from the pictures that illustrate this entry the project is now complete. Keira Miller has made three tunics whilst working in the Textiles Conservation studio at the V&A. One of the tunics will be displayed in a Discovery Area in new galleries where visitors will be able to try it on. The other two tunics will be kept as spares and will be rotated when the Discovery Area garment needs to be sent for dry-cleaning.
My colleagues in the Photo Studio at the V&A, Peter Kelleher and Maike Zimmermann, were fascinated about the work that had been undertaken on the tunic and very kindly agreed to make a short film documenting the project. The film was shot in the Textiles Conservation Studio at the V&A and features Senior Textiles Conservator, Elizabeth-Anne Haldane talking about the project with the original tunic laid out on a table. If you’d like to see the film please click on the link provided below.
If you’d like to know more about the conservation work and the results of the research into the original tunic an article by Elizabeth-Anne was published in Issue 57 of the V&A’s Conservation Journal. A digital version of this edition will be added to the website shortly so I have provided the link below. Elizabeth-Anne is also writing an online subject about the tunic and this will be added to the website late in 2009. Watch this space for more details.
If you have any questions that you’d to ask, or comments that you’d like to make, please post them below.
Click here to see the film about the Egyptian tunic on Vimeo.
Click here to read the V&A’s Conservation Journal online.