Textile Conservation: The University of Brighton’s blog

We’ve recently come across The University of Brighton’s excellent Conserving the Archives blog. Because we have our very own collection of Stoddard-Templeton carpets and textiles, we were especially interested in their most recent post, which is actually a guest entry by Emily Austin. Emily is a Textile Conservation student at the University of Glasgow, who has recently completed a placement with Zenzie Tinker Conservation during June and got to work on some of the University of Brighton’s carpet samples…

Before I head off on a spot of annual leave, I have a bit of a treat for everyone – my very first ‘guest entry’ on this blog. In an earlier entry I wrote about the carpet samples in our collection that were going to be conserved at Zenzie Tinker Conservation. Emily Austin, a Textile Conservation student at the University of Glasgow, was completing a placement with Zenzie during June and got to work on our carpet samples. She very kindly agreed to write a blog entry about the processes and allow me to use her images for illustration. So here it is – parting ways with paper for a change!

Original label, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: An original label hidden, until now, behind an award winning carpet designed by Artkurl Wilton, 1958.

“Recently while on a summer work placement at Zenzie Tinker’s Conservation studio, I was fortunate enough to be able to carry out the conservation treatment for two 1950’s carpet samples from the University of Brighton Design Archives.

Before treatment, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: Prior to treatment, showing moth frass and dust and the original wooden frame.

When the carpet samples arrived it was clear that at some point they had been host to a large number of moths, no doubt attracted by the rich wool pile. The true extent of the infestation was realised once the metal tacks had been removed from the wooden boards on which the samples were mounted, revealing numerous moth casings. However, this also revealed the original manufacturing label on the yellow and black sample, shown in the image below. The samples were then prepared for freezing by sealing them in plastic sheeting; they were frozen for 72 hours at -30c to stop any live moth activity.

Removal of old cotton tape, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: Removal of old cotton tape from the carpet sample.

Once the samples were removed from the freezer, they needed to be thoroughly surface cleaned to remove any remaining moth casings and frass (debris), which involved carefully working through the carpet pile with a low suction vacuum and tweezers. There were large amounts of casings especially on the black and blue sample, as well as areas where the pile had been completely eaten away. Interestingly, the moths seemed to focus mainly on the yellow areas of pile in this sample, perhaps because of a particular dye or treatment used on this wool.

New cotton tape, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: Stitching new cotton tape.

During this process, it became apparent that the cotton tape stitched around the raw carpet edges was preventing the full removal of the moth frass, as well as containing failing adhesive which had become yellow and powdered. Therefore, it was decided to replace the old tape and change the large mismatched stitching with a more suitable colour thread spaced closer together.

New stitching, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: New stitching.

Following discussions with Design Archives’ staff, the carpets were then prepared for mounting onto fabric covered boards. This involved the stitched attachment of Velcro strips to the top and bottom of each sample giving an even distribution of weight once they are mounted. Currently, the light weight polycarbonate and sealed plywood-faced boards are being covered and once completed they will also have Velcro attached to support the carpet pieces.

Stitching velcro, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: New velcro stitching.

Overall, the treatment has greatly improved the appearance and stability of the carpet samples, which were in poor condition when they arrived at the studio. This has not only been important for the future study of the samples at the University of Brighton Design Archives but it has also been a great experience for me as I continue my Textile Conservation training at The University of Glasgow.”

Stitching velcro, carpet sample, University of Brighton Design Archives
Image: Emily stitching velcro onto the carpet sample designed by Artkurl Wilton.

Glasgow Library Tweetups: The Turn of the Art School

We’re excited about hosting the 10th Glasgow Library Tweetup (#GLTU) tomorrow in the Archives & Collections Centre.

Glasgow Library Tweetups are an opportunity for information professionals from all over Glasgow to meet up and visit a particular library or information service and then socialise after the event. Founder, Anabel Marsh, was a Librarian at Strathclyde University for many years and is very interested in the use of social media in libraries. Anabel can be followed on Twitter @AnabelMarsh and the link to the GLTU blog is here.

Follow @GSALibrary for imminent tweets about tomorrow’s event!

Reblogged from GSA Library’s news blog

Staff outing to St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross

Last Saturday, a troupe of intrepid ramblers, otherwise known as GSA Library & Learning Resources team, embarked on a self-guided tour of the Kilmahew Estate in Cardross. We had absconded from Garnethill with one simple mission: to find the ruins of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s masterpiece, St Peter’s Seminary. And, of course, to discuss it over lunch! It’s fair to say that this had all the hallmarks of a Gillespie, Kidd & Coia pilgrimage being made in the footsteps of early Christian missionaries, Scots nobility and trainee priests as we soon discovered from our appointed tour-guide, Architecture Librarian David Buri!

We set off in the morning under a murky-looking sky and proceeded into the woods at Kilmahew Estate – a moving sea of cagoules and backpacks. Thankfully for us, the weather was on our side, and as we progressed further from the perimeter and through the rhododendrons, the only thing we had to fear was the odd crack of a golf-ball from Cardross Golf Course, in dangerously close proximity to the track! Stepping through the undergrowth, we tried to recreate in our minds the original grandeur of the the estate’s ornamental gardens, driveways and parkland. Two exceptionally tall redwood trees flanking the path at the original entrance were a reminder of the estate’s historic roots and the status it would have enjoyed, only decades ago.

At the top of the route we reached our destination: the dramatic ruins of St Peter’s Seminary, built in the 1960s and abandoned since 1980. The post-apocalyptic scene we encountered is something to behold: a derelict building, ravished by time, blemished by grafitti, yet still powerfully capable of inducing frissions down the spine. Perhaps it’s down to our current fetish for all things Brutalist, but this was similar to experiencing the sublime in nature – achieved through architecture!

The photos we’re used to seeing in the GKC Archive in GSA’s Archive and Collection Centre are black and white so we were unprepared for Kilmahew Estate’s vivid colours. Sienna-cobbled stonework, red tree-bark, green, lilac and pink shrubbery and neon grafitti have created a unique collage: something like a forgotten space-ship crash in medieval times or the set of a science-fiction film! At close range, it’s overwhelmingly apparent why the seminary is often given the accolade of being the best example of work by partners Andy MacMillan and Izi Metzstein and is revered by many as the most important piece of twentieth-century modernist architecture in post-war Britain. The contrasting curved and angular walls of the complex envelope the ruins of the once standing Kilmahew House which once stood as the structure’s fourth wall. The majestic design and the scale of the concrete build is incredible; as too is the clear level of disrepair. We were thrilled, surprised and dismayed all at once!

As one of the few post-war buildings to be granted A-listed status, there is something melancholic and aesthetically-alluring about the seminary’s abandonment, demise and unorthodox appropriation by grafitti artists. While its conservation seems to be something of an architectural frisbee, plans to conserve it as a community space were submitted by landscape architects erz in February of this year. To read more about the proposed rehabilitation of St Peter’s, make sure to check for updates on Glasgow Architecture’s website.

Reincarnation emerged as a recurrent theme as we followed the tour onwards. The entire Kilmahew Estate has had many incarnations – each new vision and design has been followed by decline and ruin. After the excitement of the seminary, we also discovered the ruins of nearby Kilmahew Castle, and explored the gardens where an ornamental pond, waterfall and rhododendron tunnel can be found. It was then onto a nearby farm-shop and tearoom for a well-deserved lunch and post-tour analysis! We even found time to stop at nearby Geilston Hall on the road back to Glasgow, a drill-house designed by a young Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1889.

The tour is free to download from The Royal Geographical Society’s website as part of the Discovering Britain project. You can download written and audio guides from the website. The booklet (available to download here: Kilmahew – walk booklet and in stock in GSA Library) includes the black and white images of St Peter’s Seminary from the GSA Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive. Check the ACC blog for related GKC posts.

 Reblogged from GSA Library’s Architectural Resources blog. 

Explore Your Archive: The National Archives Campaign

GSA Archives and Collections will be running similar initiatives for the Explore Your Archives campaign… watch this space!

UCA Archives

Explore your Archive is a campaign to encourage exploration of different organisations’ archives by local communities

‘The aim… is to take audiences on a journey of discovery. We want them to explore their interests and at the same time discover their (local) archive to find out more about the fascinating stories that lie within’.

Every fortnight on this blog as part of this campaign UCA will be exploring the history of the academic classes at each of the six Art Colleges through mergers to the West Surrey College of Art and Design, Surrey Institute of Design, University College for the Creative Arts, and finally the University for the Creative Arts.

Stories will be collated until the 16 November 2013 where there will be a week of displays and events

Classes to explore will include Architecture, Fine Art, Time Based Media, Animation (created by Bob Godfrey), Graphic Design and Photography. It…

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Giving up the Archive study day: Last remaining places…

There are still a limited number of spaces available on this fascinating study day examining art organisations’ archives.

Giving up the archive? Reflections on the creation, examination and dissemination of arts organisations’ archives.

1 July 2013, White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey SE1 3TQ

See here for more information on how to book your place.

Artists using Archives: Seamus Nolan, more adventurous thinking…

The National College of Art and Design Gallery (NCAD Gallery) and The National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) are delighted to present the exhibition ‘more adventurous thinking…’ from the archive of Dorothy Walker, with artist response from Seamus Nolan.

Dorothy Walker with a work by Patrick Ireland c.1990

Dorothy Walker (1929 – 2002) was a dynamic and influential art critic and author who played a central role in many of the most significant events in Irish visual art in the second half of the 20th century. During her active life she kept an archive, recently bequeathed to the National Irish Visual Arts Library, Dublin. The archive charts the scope and diversity of her interests and is essential information for the understanding of Modernism in the context of the visual arts in Ireland.

Earlier this year NIVAL were fortunate to be awarded a grant from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the recently launched Philanthropy Initiative specifically to create an online catalogue devoted to the Dorothy Walker Archive. Without this funding it would not be possible for the Library to dedicate time in cataloguing this wonderful resource and subsequently could not celebrate her archive through exhibition at NCAD Gallery.

NIVAL has begun the development of this online catalogue of the collection that will provide an overview of the material, identifying key events and personalities, and establish a chronology of the documentation. The collection documents her involvement with institutions and projects such as Rosc, Guinness-Peat Aviation Awards, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) and the International Association of Art Critics (IACA), and with artists such as Brian O’Doherty, Patrick Scott, Sean Scully, Ciaran Lennon James Coleman, Eileen Gray, Joseph Beuys and poet Seamus Heaney.

In response to the Dorothy Walker archive, visual artist Seamus Nolan engages select works of art of the early modernist period in the context of NCAD Gallery. Private collectors and museums are approached by way of written invitation to consider the compatibility of these works of art within this contemporary gallery structure. The Gallery is subjected to the standards and processes applicable to the exhibition and handling of museum objects through detailed measurement of the environmental conditions; specifically humidity, temperature, light and ultra violet levels.

The National Irish Visual Arts Library is a partnership project of the National College of Art and Design and the Arts Council of Ireland.

For further information see the event website, or contact:
Anne Kelly, Curatorial Coordinator, NCAD Gallery, 01.636.4390
Donna Romano, Acting Head Librarian, NCAD Library, 01.636.4347

The National College of Art and Design Gallery, 100 Thomas Street, Dublin 8. 

NCAD Gallery opening hours are 1pm-5pm, Monday-Friday. The exhibition continues until Friday, 20th September 2013.

Mackintosh Building windows undergo conservation

GSA Library windows 170613The massive library windows of the Mackintosh Building here at Glasgow School of Art are currently undergoing conservation. The 30ft high windows will be removed and taken to specialist conservators, who will replace cracked panes and restore metal frames.

Last week preparation for the works began by protecting the woodwork, floors and lights in the library and bringing in protective screens which will replace the windows while they are being restored.

The work has been funded by Historic Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Getty Foundation.

For more pictures of conservators at work see this article in The Herald.

The woodwork, floors and lights in the Mackintosh library have been protected and there will be screens to replace the windows while they are being restored.

The woodwork, floors and lights in the Mackintosh library have been protected and there will be screens to replace the windows while they are being restored.

Colouring the Nation Exhibition

Sample of printed cotton cloth showing a trade mark for 'First Quality Turkey Red', 1867. Image courtesy National Museums Scotland with kind permission of Coats plc

Sample of printed cotton cloth showing a trade mark for ‘First Quality Turkey Red’, 1867. Image courtesy National Museums Scotland with kind permission of Coats plc

A vibrant online exhibition from National Museums Scotland explains the history of ‘Turkey red in Scotland’, an ancient dyeing process that formed a thriving industry in the Vale of Leven, Dumbartonshire during the 19th century. The bright, fast red produced in the sophisticated process became the preserve of the wealthy who desired to have their cotton textiles dyed a sumptuous hue of crimson! Unlike colours such as black and yellow, the method of producing red remained an expensive process due to the complexities involved in its creation. Synthetic dyes eventually won out, but not before a beautifully ornate history had been spun as the ‘Colouring the Nation’ exhibition demonstrates.

Textile sample of Turkey red dyed and printed cotton, c 1840-50. Image courtesy of National Museums Scotland with kind permission of Coats plc

Textile sample of Turkey red dyed and printed cotton, c 1840-50. Image courtesy of National Museums Scotland with kind permission of Coats plc

The exhibition is based on a collection of 200 pattern books (the Turkey red Collection) which National Museums acquired when the Scottish industry ceased trade in the 1960s. Much like the Stoddard Design Library held by GSA Library, these pattern books were consulted as in-house design tools with a few kept as ‘show books’ for merchants and esteemed customers. The useful feature of the collection from a research point of view is that the books also form a record of the printing techniques used, something which the online exhibition has successfully adapted to interactive format. Over 500 of the designs from these pattern books are included in the exhibition, all of which are compelling not only for their variety and opulence, but for the stories they tell about the Scottish textile industry’s international client-base.

Textile sample with hand block printed design of five peacocks within a large paisley motif and one large peacock to the right with floral borders, c1860. Image courtesy of National Museums Scotland with kind permission of Coats plc

Textile sample with hand block printed design of five peacocks within a large paisley motif and one large peacock to the right with floral borders, c1860. Image courtesy of National Museums Scotland with kind permission of Coats plc

This is a visual feast of colour for the eyes which vividly recalls the history of a glorious age in the history of Scottish textiles. Search the collection by theme or conduct research into the history of the industry and its textiles by reading the collection of interpretive essays.

Reblogged from GSA Library Art and Design Resources blog.

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh embroidered panels return from Japan

Our beautiful pair of embroidered panels by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, have returned from their exhibition tour of Japan. The exhibition, entitled Klint’s Golden Rider and Vienna: Celebraring the 150th Anniversary of Klimt’s Birth, has been travelling around various galleries and museums in Japan since late 2012.

Since the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art opened 20 years ago, Gustav Klimt’s 1903 painting Life is a Struggle (Golden Rider) has been a beloved museum treasure. Structured around this painting, this exhibition introduces the artist’s stylistic development. The exhibition also examines various influences on the production of the Golden Rider, including the influence of the arts of Japan on those of the West (japonisme), and the activities of the Vienna Secession (founded in 1897 and led by Klimt) and the Wiener Werkstätte (founded in 1903).

Embroidered panels, by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, c1902-1904

Embroidered panels, by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, c1902-1904

Our panels are linen embroidered with silk and metal threads in satin stitch and couching with silk braid, ribbon, silk appliqué, glass beads, square linen buttons painted gold. The faces are painted in watercolour on white kid stretched over card, and date from c1902-1904. Similar panels appear in Mackintosh’s drawings of the east wall of the principal bedroom at The Hill House although it is not certain when they were installed there as early photographs taken in 1904 do not show them. The panels appear to be duplicates of those shown at the Vienna Secession exhibition in 1900 and bought by Emil Blumenfelt; at least one of these (listed as a ‘bed curtain’) was lent by Blumenfelt to the Turin exhibition in 1902 – although it lacks the lower section of black silk seen on The Hill House panels.

Artists using archives: Bruce McLean is not an Archivist…!

screening of 'Archive Of The New' a film collaboration by Bruce McLean, Donald Smith, and Debra Welch at White Cube Bermondsey

screening of ‘Archive Of The New’ a film collaboration by Bruce McLean, Donald Smith, and Debra Welch at White Cube Bermondsey

The leading British artist, Bruce McLean has released an extract of a new film work, Archiving The New. The piece was produced especially for an event launching an important new publication, All This Stuff: Archiving The Artist, which took place at the White Cube Gallery, Bermondsey on May 23rd 2013.

You can find an extract of the work, made by Bruce McLean, Donald Smith and Debra Welch, here:

All This Stuff: Archiving the Artist, edited by Judy Vaknin, Karyn Stuckey and Victoria Lane

All This Stuff: Archiving the Artist, edited by Judy Vaknin, Karyn Stuckey and Victoria Lane

All This Stuff: Archiving The Artist  is published by the Art Libraries Society (ARLIS UK & Ireland) and Libri Publishing. For more information about the book, visit the Libri Publishing website.

The book breaks new ground in the field of archive theory, documenting the innovative ways in which the arts are challenging the distinctions, processes and crossovers between artworks and archives. The book includes a chapter by CHELSEA space Director Donald Smith and McLean entitled ‘The Impossibility of Archiving In the Mind of an Artist Still Living’ as well as contributions by Penelope Curtis (Director of Tate Britain), Ruth McLennan, Uriel Orlow, Gustav Metzger, Clive Phillpot and many others.