The Centre for Photographic Conservation Newsletter No: 2 ARCHIVE/INTERNET COPY


Issue 2. 1st January 1995 INTERNET EDITION

CPC Newsletter is published once a year. Reproduction and/or translation of the contents is permitted, with acknowledgement of the source.

News and comments from The Centre for Photographic Conservation

Dear friends

Our first news letter was received very warmly, resulting in a number of letters and phone calls from well wishers, thank you, we are always pleased to here from you.

In August all our disaster recovery experience was stretched to the limits when The Centre was flooded, not once but twice in one week. The first incursion was the result of a blocked drain in the top floor dark room which poured an estimated 200 gallons of water through the building, barely 48 hours later the road out side our door became a torrent turning the basement store room into a veritable swimming pool. Despite not having a defined disaster plan, because one always thinks it could never happen to me, happily very little physical damage occurred, both incursions by-passing the main studio areas, and even our courses, which were in progress at the time, were not disrupted. In the long term the high humidity levels and the imbalance of the equilibrium moisture content (EMC) of the structure of the building, fixtures, fittings and other materials had to be regularly monitored and it was November before we were satisfied that these were back to normal.

Organizing the European Photographic Materials Conservation Group meeting and our Open Day at the end of October, our participation in Restoration 94 in the Netherlands and our trip to China in November generated a flurry of activities that rounded the year off nicely.

European Photographic Materials Conservation Group

The inaugural meeting of the European Photographic Materials Conservation Group took place at the Sainsbury's Wing Conference Room, The National Gallery London on the 27th October 1994. Hosted by the Photographic Department at the National Gallery the one day meeting attracted 66 delegates, countries represented where France, Germany, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The paper presented by Sara Hattrickwas approached purely from the perspective of the needs of the National Gallery's Photographic Department to preserve it's working collection of photographic materials including large format glass plate, infrared and X-ray negatives. This paper was followed by a tour of the department and new storage facilities. Sally Ann Yates, National Galleries on Merseyside, discussed initial conservation treatments and storage of the Stewart Bale (1930-1970) Collection of glass plate and sheet film negatives which are of outstanding technical importance. From The National Galleries of Scotland, James Berry described the conservation treatment and storage of an album of salted paper prints, dating from 1840, collected and taken by Robert Adamson. The photographs, including "Talbotypes" and Adamson's original text provide us with an insight into the birth of photography. Iwan Jones talked from the perspective of "poacher turned gamekeeper" having been a Curator at the National Library of Wales since 1978 in 1992 he became the Library's Conservation Officer. An initiative introduced by the Library is the vacuum packing of nitrate materials for suppressed storage. A demonstration of vacuum packing by Stuart Welch of Conservation by Design Ltd, explored the viability of the process in photographic preservation and conservation. Ian Moor,The Centre for Photographic Conservation, discussed cause and effect of poor mounting techniques and materials in relation to the stratigraphy of paper based photographs and the criteria for mounting photographic prints. Jean Brown, University of Northumbria, discussed the photographic section of a salvage procedure project undertaken at The Western Pictorial Art Section of the British Museum during 1992/93. Two large poster exhibits, "Photographic Conservation at the Public Record Office" prepared by Stephen Harwood and "Dermatoglyphics or the Great Finger Print Mystery" prepared by Angela Moor, The Centre for Photographic Conservation and Sandra Petrillo, IFROA Intern at CPC completed the programme.

Ian Moor, acting as Chairman, opened the general meeting that followed and proposed that the group should be involved in such areas as the promotion of the preservation and conservation of photographic materials, the dissemination of information and training, with the overall aims being: encouragement to fellow members, exchange of knowledge and skills, raising standards, promotion of public awareness and co-ordination of research.

Four proposals were agreed by the meeting: the setting up of a specialist photographic conservation group, open membership, the steering group to investigate what options would be realistic initially and a membership form designed and sent out to invite membership. Issues raised included; the group name, definitions of 'photographic', membership, affiliation and funding.

An interim steering group was invited composed of James Berry, Elizabeth Martin, Ian Moor, Angela Moor, Sally Ann Yates and Angela Thompson.

The meeting was organized and sponsored by The Centre for Photographic Conservation. The EPhMCG Steering group acknowledged this generous support for the meeting by The Centre and also from The National Gallery, London, Conservation Resources (UK), Conservation by Design Ltd, Munktel Filter, MultiPack, C. A. Coutts and Silver Print.

The next meeting will be on the 4th May 1995 and will be held at the Public Record Office, Kew.

The meeting will include the election of a committee and nominations are requested for the posts of Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and three committee members.

If you would like to present a paper or poster at this or future meetings or have any comments or queries please contact Angela Moor.

A Star is born

Introducing a new member of the Newsletter's team Fredrick Fingerprint, who has emerged as the star from a poster exhibit, soon to be a leaflet, that The Centre exhibited at the European Photographic Materials Conservation Group meeting in October, his character is reminiscent of Michael Caine with a touch of Maurice Chevalier, we hope you will enjoy reading his comments.

American Institute of Conservation Photographic Materials Group

The AIC/PMG Winter Meeting will have its biannual meeting at the National Gallery in Washington from 3-4th March 1995 Ian and Angela Moor will be sharing in discussions concerned with Photographic Conservation training which is becoming an issue of considerable debate across the Atlantic. It would also be true to say that there are ripples being felt in other quarters, and it will not be to far distant before the responsibility for this specialist discipline is no longer foisted onto an unsuspecting, ill prepared, paper conservator. The PMG have also asked for an up-date on the inaugural meeting of the EPhMCG. Further information about this meeting from Barbara Brown at HRHRC. The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA, Tel: 78713-7219 - Fax: (512)471-9646.

Training Courses

Amongst the courses this year are two new ones. Conserving Photographs 2. a three weeks workshop for experienced conservators introducing advanced practical skills in the preservation and conservation of paper based photographic images, the course has come out of requests from past students intent on developing their skills further. Entry to the course assumes that participants also have photographic process identification skills. Participants who have attended one of the Centre's practical courses since 1989 will qualify for a discount for this course. Disaster planning a one day disaster preparedness course giving a comprehensive overview of the needs for institutional disaster planning based on The Centre's long experience of disaster recovery. The Centre also offers institutional in-house courses in all aspects of the preservation and conservation of photographic materials, disaster preparedness and recovery techniques and procedures.

The Centre's programme of courses for 1995 starts on the 14th August and runs through until the 29th September.

Courses offered in 1995 are;

London Transport Museum

A recently completed commission at The Centre is a wonderful album of gelatine bromide prints from the London Transport Museum. The album visually documents proposals for a new corporate identity to UERL (Northern) Underground stations circa 1908-1909. The stations, opened between 1906-1907, were by Leslie Wilson Green, and project a classical style with Arts and Crafts inspired surface ornamentation incorporating moulded terracotta blocks heavily glazed in a deep ruby red colour. The album was assembled to illustrate proposed changes to the facades and company signs and all of the photographs have been extensively overlaid with paper masks and hinged tabs and overpainted/drawn with water colour pigments, ink and pencil. For the Museum this album has great importance as a record of architectural changes, however, it also has outstanding qualities in other respects for captured in the photographs is a wealth of socio-historic detail ranging from shop windows, fashion, working conditions, theatre, holiday and travel even a barrel organ which under magnification displays a magnificent battle scene, information considered superfluous to the photographers original intent. The multi stratigraphy and poor quality of the materials used in the album and the conservation requirements of the photographs presented a variety of problems for the conservator.

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