Head of Paper Conservation, Bodleian Libraries
ICOM-CC Graphic Documents Working Group Interim Meeting, Paris 2016
The participation to the ICOM-CC Graphic Documents Working Group held in Paris in June 2016 was a great opportunity. It offered me the chance to listen to an interesting programme of lectures about the latest research in the field. This is very relevant for my practice and the practice of the team of Paper Conservators I manage at the Bodleian and essential information to make sure our approach and techniques respect the general developments and approaches within our field. It was also an opportunity to present a paper I co-authored with my colleague Julia Bearman “A pair of Ming hanging scrolls: from past repairs to present conservation” and make our work known to an international audience of experts in the field of paper conservation and scientific research. I was really looking forward to see how it would be received and the discussion and comments it would raise. It was the first time I attended this forum and having read this year programme and read previous years abstracts I had really high expectations.
The conference was very well attended there were 180 participants and 24 talks were presented covering various themes. One reflected on the experience gathered in the treatment of large or difficult formats like preparatory cartoons, architectural drawings, very large items, sketchbooks, theatre set models, Islamic manuscripts, and large pastels on parchment. Another theme covered the problems relative to various unstable media on paper as the problem of iron gall ink, copper green and white lead and consolidation of pigments in general. Another theme focused on new mounting and storage solutions. Some talks discussed experimentation of new materials in conservation and introduced their eventual use like nano-cellulose. There was also an interesting comparative study of washing techniques. There was a good balance between scientific papers and conservation treatment papers. The poster session was also very interesting.
The final day of the conference included a wide programme of tours. I went to visit the Institut National du Patrimoine which is the main conservation training in France. I was especially interested because every year we host one of their students for 6 month training and they have always been very well prepared. We were shown around the school which is in a beautiful building that used to be a match factory, met with some of the students, discussed some of their projects and talked about the training course with two of their tutors.
I gave our paper on the first day and it was very well received and many people came to congratulate me and discuss the content of the talk further, there was a real interest and strong encouragement of publishing our paper to better disseminate its content and share it further. I was certainly delighted about this outcome. I made many interesting new connections with some of the other speakers and participants as well as met colleagues I have known for a long time. I am planning to give our talk to colleagues here at the Bodleian and also give a general feedback of the conference. The abstracts of the conference papers have been published and I am sharing this publication with the rest of the department. Some of the new knowledge gained will be applied in our daily work for example introducing the use of new materials and techniques in the conservation workshop here at the Bodleian.