The Centre for Photographic Conservation Newsletter No: 3 ARCHIVE/INTERNET COPY


Issue 3. 1st January 1996 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

May we take this opportunity to wish you all a very blessed and happy year in 1996.

It's been another very busy period since our last Newsletter including the AIC Photographic Materials Group Winter Meeting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in March and the second meeting of the fledgeling Photographic Materials Conservation Group at The Public Record Office, Kew in May. Also in May and again in October the Moor's were in the Netherlands at the National Photographic Conservation Studios. In the Autumn they spent several weeks in Spain where a disastrous flood in Barcelona saw them supervising the recovery of three major photographic collections from six feet of dirty water.

China 95

On a personal note in December the Moors spent three weeks in China working with Chinese Christians. This is their second visit to China and as part of this trip they visited the State Orphanage in Ghangzhou to help with the children. The conditions in this orphanage and other State orphanages in China have recently received a lot of exposure on television and in the newspapers. Ian and Angela hope to return to China again in 1996.

Friends who would like to hear more about this trip please call, write, fax or email for a China Update.

Getting to know us

The Centre maintains a Reference Library and three Collections of Photographs, the Jean Straker Collection, CPC's Teaching Collection and the Moor Private Collection.

CPC's Library

The Centre has a growing Reference Library of predominantly early photographic technical manuals and publications, photographic chemistry and other photographically related publications plus conservation journals, newsletters and photocopies. The library is used by The Centre's staff and students; we regret that it is not open to researchers or the public.

CPC's Teaching Collection

The Centre's Teaching Collection, assembled over 24 years, contains examples of original photographic processes spanning the history of photography ranging from the Heliograph 1822 right through to Thermal prints, the image originating from a digital imaging camera 1996. The collection also contains images which exhibit classic deterioration defects common to specific photographic processes for example, copper corrosion products on Daguerreotype plates, glass decomposition products in Wet-collodion positives and negatives, insoluble argentothiosulphate complexes in silver based prints and oxidation of residual iron salts in platinum prints. This reference material is consulted extensively during the training courses run by The Centre. The collection also includes early photographic equipment, cameras and ephemera.

"Angelatype" On a less studious note the collection also includes several "Angelatypes" named thus by Roy Flukinger, Curator of Photography at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre in Austin Texas. These positive images, produced on a pewter plate using Bitumen of Judea, were the result of one of a number of experiments Angela Moor undertook whilst at HRHRC in 1989. The images exhibit a wonderful warmth and colour which are not present in Niecéphore Niépce's Heliographs produced from the same materials, the earliest of which is in the HRHRC's Gernsheim Collection. Angela maintains that she could not repeat this particular experiment without the 80% humidity and blazing sun which Austin has in abundance. This might be true, or, it could just be an excuse to return to Austin of which she has very fond memories of the five months spent there in 1989.

Moor Private Collection

In 1972 the Moor's made a positive decision not to collect photographs other than for reference purposes, however, despite sticking to that policy they have still managed to accumulate a sizeable personal collection. The majority of the collection, including images by Fox Talbot, Hill and Adamson, Cameron, Emerson and Sutcliff, is predominantly 19th century, but, it also includes Ponting, Man Ray and many anonymous photographers from both centuries.

The Jean Straker Collection

Since 1984 The Centre has been the repository for the Jean Straker Collection. Jean Straker, 1913-1984. The son of a Russian emigre and an English music hall dancer Jean started his career in freelance journalism. He said that "he decided on photography because it was an international language, for the speed and flexibility of the miniature camera meant it could replace words". At the outbreak of the war and living in Wimpole Street, famous for its medical consulting rooms, Jean soon discovered how great the need was for detailed, speedy medical photography, particularly of surgical procedures. There were numerous emergency operations performed during the air raid years and operating techniques were changing and developing rapidly. Photographs, particularly those in sequence, were of the utmost value, as records and in the teaching hospitals as teaching aids.

Jean, a pacifist, spent the war years working for the Ministry of Supply and at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington. At the same time Jean established a general commercial photography business, Photo-Union Ltd., which operated from a 300 year old building in Soho Square.

The majority of the 20,000+ glass and sheetfilm negatives and prints are from the Photo-Union period and also "The Academy of Visual Arts" 1951-1970. The Photo-Union material apart from the hundreds of photographs of Britain in the 1940s includes industrial, architectural, fashion, genre and general photographic studies. "The Academy of Visual Arts" photographs are predominantly nude studies.

Jean himself specialised in portraiture with the exciting, individualistic lighting which was his special contribution to camera work. It was in these post-war years that he first produced "Photo-essays", themes illustrated by the miniature camera.

Jean was a prominent member of the Camera Club, an association of professional and amateur photographers. Jean exhibited regularly, work ranging from portraiture to landscape. Abandoning commercial photography in 1951 Jean set up The "Academy of Visual Arts". Members had access to exhibitions resulting from its program of lecture-demonstrations. These were illustrative of topics such as lighting, classical posses, analysis and re-working in a photographic context the subjects of the old masters, Rembrandt, Poussin and Velasquez. Rembrandt, for his use of light, was particularly admired by Jean. Ref.1. Amongst the commissions he undertook during the '50's was for the "London Festival Ballet".

In the 60's falling foul of British Censorship Law Jean was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, he lost the case but on appeal to The House of Lords this conviction was squashed. This case lead to changes in the Censorship Laws in 1965.

Images are also held by; The Museum of London, The National Museum of Photography Film and Television and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Ian and Angela Moor are on the Board of Trustees of the Jean Straker Trust. Public access to the collection is restricted because of limited space at The Centre. With a growing interest in the collection the Trustees are seeking a permanent repository to allow unrestricted research facilities.

Ref.1 Charles Skilton published 'The Nudes of Jean Straker'

In 1999 the Jean Straker Collection was moved to a new permanent repository

Training at the Centre

The training courses run by The Centre are always one of the highlights of the year. In 1995 students attended from Canada, America, Spain, Ireland and the UK.

Fig.1 A view of part of the main studio looking through to the wet area beyond

With the brilliant sunshine that we experienced in August the students who took part in the Rediscovering Historic Photographic Processes course produced some excellent examples of the early processes and put together a portfolio of their images which are not only beautiful, but, are also an excellent aid to identification.

Fig.2 Students on the Rediscovering Historic Photographic Processes course relaxing in the garden at The Centre in preparation for a Calotype group portrait.

Students on the seven week certificated course also used some of the prints they produced to undertake experiments on, measuring the effect of light and of aqueous treatments. See this years course list for more details.

Fig.3 Densitometer readings about to be taken from historic print process samples produced on the course that have undergone a light stability test.

The Centre offers a programme of both short and long training courses in aspects of photographic preservation and conservation.


Rediscovering Historic Photographic Processes Ref:Prog96/7

A five day course providing the opportunity to experience and develop an understanding and the manipulative skills needed to produce historic photographic processes including the photogenic drawing, calotype, salted paper print, cyanotype and the albumen print.

Course dates 15th-19th April 1996
Course Fee £390.00 plus V.A.T.

The Preservation and Conservation of Photographic Materiels (Theory) Ref:Prog96/2

A three day course covering the identification, causes of degradation, handling and storage of photographic materials: aimed specifically for those with the care and responsibility for photographic collections: Keepers, Curators, Librarians Archivists Conservators et al.

Course dates 22nd-24th April 1996
Course Fee £240.00 plus V.A.T.

Preservation of Colour Photographic Materials Ref:Prog96/10

This two day course for curators, conservators, slide librarians and photographers, will look at the factors affecting the stability, preservation, treatment and storage of these extremely problematic materials.

Course dates 25th-26th April 1996
Course Fee £120. plus V.A.T.

Preservation of Photographic Negatives: Glass, Nitrate, Acetate and other sheet and roll film systems Ref: Prog96/11

This two day course for curators, conservators, slide librarians and photographers, will focus upon the identification of photographic negative materials and the specific care and storage needs of this diverse material.

Course dates 29th-30th April 1996
Course Fee £120.00 plus V.A.T.

The Identification of Photographic Processes Ref: Prog96/4

An in-depth examination of the process and material characteristics necessary for the identification of historic photographic processes. A unique opportunity to undertake a comparative study of original images from the history of photography, 1835 to the present day.

Course dates 1st-3rd May 1996
Course Fee £240.00 plus V.A.T.

Conserving Photographs 2. Ref:Prog96/5

A three week workshop for experienced conservators introducing advanced practical skills in the preservation and conservation of paper based photographic images. It is assumed that participants also have photographic process identification skills.

Course dates 6th-24th May 1996
Course Fee £910.00 plus V.A.T.

Photographic Materials Conservation Group

The PhMCG held a second one day meeting of lectures and poster exhibits on the 4th May 1995 at the Public Record Office, Kew. At the meeting a six-member committee was elected made up of the following.

Anita Bools Roberts. Regional Conservator, National Trust.
Stephen Harwood. Photographic Conservator, Public Record Office. (Treasurer)
Angela Moor. The Centre for Photographic Conservation, (Program Secretary)
David Parker. Conservation Officer, Public Record Office. (Hon. Secretary)
Angela Thompson. Photographic Conservator, National Gallery.
Chris Woods. Archive Conservator, Dorset Record Office. (Chair)

Interim Articles of Agreement where also set up and the name proposed originally, European Photographic Materials Conservation Group, was changed by majority decision.

The next meeting of the group is on the 21st March 1996 at the Museum and Galleries Commission, Queen Anne's Gate, London.

For further information please contact: David Parker, C/o Conservation Dept', The Public Record Office, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU.Telephone 0181-876 3444 Facsimile 0181-878 8905.

National Photographic Conservation Studios in the Netherlands

In May and October as a continuation of the Delta Plan Ref. 2. in the Netherlands Ian and Angela Moor were working at the National Photographic Conservation Studios where they taught both in-house students and students from the National Conservation School.

The Moor's worked upon the Ed Van der Elsken collection one of the collections originally surveyed by them in 1992 as part of the initial stages of the Delta Plan. Because of the nature and variety of the conservation problems posed by this collection, on a practical, aesthetic and ethical level, the proposed conservation treatment program made an ideal project for photographic conservation students to observe and participate in and could be used to further the training of photographic conservators in the Netherlands.

The Van der Elsken collection comprises his models for "A love on the left bank", "Bagara", and "Sweet Life". The photographs, mat and ferrotyped gelatine bromide prints, mounted both sides of low grade art card have been heavily used, and by virtue of the fact that it is a working artefact, altered repeatedly by Van der Elsken as he made his final selection and again by the printers as they produced the finished publications, it exhibits the kinds of extensive physical damage one would expect.

Van der Elsken's images are powerful. The original images contained in the models and the form and presentation of their make-up illustrate beautifully the creative process.

Fig.4 Students at work removing paper and adhesive residues from the versos of photographs from the Ed Van der Elsken collection.

From an ethical and aesthetic standpoint the original presentation of these works must always be preserved and they should fully represent and fulfil Van der Elsken's intentions. With this view in mind the conservation treatment program set out by the Moors will restore the sets to their original state and presentation.

Ref. 2. Going Upstream: A Travel Against World Politics, Hans Christiaan" de Herder. The Imperfect Image: Photographs Their Past, Present and Future" ISBN 0-9521393-0-8

The Great Exhibition 1851

A recently completed commission at The Centre are the volumes of the "Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, Reports by the Juries," better known as "The Great Exhibition". The volumes are from the Library of The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce less formally known as the Royal Society for the Arts.

The Reports by the Juries was published in 1852 in eight volumes, printed by W. Clowes and Sons for Spicer Brothers, Wholesale Stationers, London. The volumes are sumptuously bound by Riviere in red morocco and are extensively illustrated with engravings and also 154 salted paper prints, printed by Robert J. Bingham in France. As a gesture of goodwill William Henry Fox Talbot the inventor of the Calotype process by which some of the images were produced, relaxed his Patent to enable the publication to appear illustrated with photographic prints. Talbot had also expected to be commissioned to undertake the printing of the images, to be done by Nicholaas Henneman in the Regent Street studio, however, Robert Bingham, who worked for and was trained by Henneman, negotiated the printing rights privately with The R.S.A. much to Talbot's and Henneman's chagrin.

The volumes not only carry the monogram of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert they are also ascribed to the Society, Presented by Her Majesty's Commissioners for the Exhibition of M.D.CCC.LI. To the Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

The R.S.A has one other connection with the birth of Photography it was the venue for the inaugural meeting of The Photographic Society of London, later to become The Royal Photographic Society, which took place there on the 20th January 1853.

La tormenta dejó 23 September 1995

The Moor's in Spain! Caused by prolonged torrential rain the flood affected many districts of Barcelona causing widespread damage and destruction. Called in by a Private Business Foundation they supervised the recovery operations for three major 20th Century photographic collections. All the material was ultimately recovered with minimal damage.

Angela Moor inititally went out to Barcelona to set up and supervise the recovery operation. Material that could not be recovered immediately was prepared for freezer storage, prior to futher treatment.

Fig.5 Here Angela Moor works with Montse Noguera and Manuel Serra to prepare flood damaged material for freezer storage. Both Montse and Manuel who were part of the recovery team attended The Centre's seven week Conservation Course just prior to this disaster. Only a small percentage of the affected material was frozen and this was fully recovered within weeks of the initial disaster.

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