There have been many highlights in conservation over the last 12 months, but one of the most enjoyable for me has been the opportunity to take part in outreach activities, whether it’s been writing blog posts, participating in studio tours and visits, holding conservation training days, or representing the University’s conservation department at various local and national festivals.
In October of this year, we were able to leave our natural habitat of the studio when asked to take part in the Midlothian Science Festival. Emily Hick (LHSA project conservator) and Vanessa Johnson (a conservation student and previous blog contributor) ran a booth that demonstrated how conservators can use Ultra Violet light to identify pigments which in turn can assist in informing an artworks treatment plan or long-term preservation needs. Using various pigments that absorb, reflect or fluoresce under UV, the participants were encouraged to draw pictures and then examine them in a dark tent under UV and describe how they changed. As Emily says, the “kids loved seeing their paintings transformed, and learnt that science isn’t all about test tubes and chemicals, but can be used in art as well!”
Last month, we were also delighted to be asked to hold a workshop – entitled ‘Making History: DIY medieval charters, title deeds and treasure maps’ – as part of Scotland’s Previously History Festival, which we held in our conservation studio at the Centre of Research Collections. The event proved popular, with participants of all ages enjoying the practical side – with tea-staining paper, wax seals, painting with pigments, and transcribing using ink and dip pens included – as well as being afforded the opportunity to see first-hand some of the University’s Special Collection and Lothian Health Services Archive Collection material, dating back to the eighteenth century, for inspiration for their creations. Below is an example of the handiwork produced by some High School History pupils during the session, including a replica of a letter written by the artist Allan Ramsay – can you spot which one is the fake?
All our outreach efforts, and these sessions in particular, have been a great opportunity to bring conservation and collection care theory to a wider audience, both within the University and further afield, in what is hopefully a fun and engaging way. Perhaps we may even be influencing the next generation of conservators….
Lastly, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from us all in conservation. We look forward to keeping you posted with all our conservation news throughout 2015!
Emma Davey, Conservation Officer