July 1992 Issue 04
A review of the Institute of Paper Conservation Conference, Manchester, April 1st - 4th 1992
Having not attended a conference before, I viewed the prospect of four days of lectures on paper conservation with some trepidation. But after receiving the pre conference folder and looking through the list of lectures, I decided that it was not that daunting after all.
So along with six hundred other people we assembled for the first morning. The daily programme had been divided into 4 blocks, with 2 blocks of papers in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. Questions were asked only at the end of each period. This I found very distracting and would have liked to have seen the questions at the end of each paper.
There was a total of 50 papers being given, 12 of these on book conservation and related areas. The books sessions were held on the Friday, when there were concurrent sessions on art on paper in another lecture theatre. The range of papers was quite extensive and ranged from the purely technical to the art historical, and some, I am pleased to say, were a mixture of both. I was very interested in the papers being given on the Friday morning session, entitled 'Art on paper: large works - Mounting and Display Methods.' There were three papers on large objects which all had relevance to work being carried out in the Mounting Section of the V&A.
The first of these dealt with the conservation of 41 Toulouse-Lautrec posters, given by Ingelise Nelsen from Denmark. As we have just carried out two exhibitions of posters this year and have another planned for 1994, I was interested to see how the mounting and framing would be carried out. But unfortunately, by the time the conservation work had been completed the project had run out of money. In a conversation with the speaker later, I asked how the posters would be mounted and framed when the money was available: they will go into card mounts and simple wooden frames, so there was nothing new there.
The second paper was given by Anne Maheux from Canada. This paper discussed mounting and framing large objects. Some of the problems raised in this paper are similar to ones we will be dealing with in some forthcoming exhibitions. The way the mounting of large objects was carried out, namely by attaching a continuous hinge along the top edge, and then this hinge being taped between two pieces of wood which are screwed to the wall, could be used in the forthcoming Motorcar exhibition.
The third paper of this group was by Amelia Rampton, who although is in the UK, gave a case history of a job she had carried out in Venezuela. It involved the conservation and mounting of a large charcoal drawing. Amelia had the extra problem of having to train her staff, as well as carrying out the conservation work. There was also some difficulty in obtaining some of the more traditional materials, so with no wheat starch paste available the paste was made from the local root Cassava. The drawing was con-served and laid down on Japanese paper, and framed but not glazed. The only protection from the viewing public would be a rope barrier.
One of the most interesting of all the other papers was given by - Margaret Ellis from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Her paper was titled 'The Porous Pointed Pen as Artistic Medium.' This turned out to be the felt tip pen. The paper dealt with the history of the pen through its advertising, and also the change in its key components, the nib design and the ink composition. This was followed by some of the problems which come from the use of this medium. For example, it fades quite rapidly and the ink leaches through sheets of paper on either side of the drawing. So far no solution has been found for this. Only the frequent changing of blotting paper between objects was suggested.
On talking to a number of delegates towards the end of the conference, some did express the view that a number of the papers overlapped, and concentrated too much on one subject, as with the whole morning on paper resizing. Other papers seemed to be on subjects which had already been well documented before and this again makes me think that the number of papers might have been too many.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the conference was being able to meet people from all over the world. To have the opportunity to swop ideas and ask questions, for which there was not time in the main conference. The facilities at UMIST were first class, as was the handling of the conference by the members of the Institute of Paper Conservation. I shall look forward to the next one with no trepidation.