Scanning, Max Gill, Sirpa Kutilainen, University of Brighton Design Archives
Difference between surfacing cleaning (right half) and not (left half). Detail from the original artwork.

From the selection of Gill objects we have here at the moment, there were two items small enough for our scanners here at the Design Archives. The items themselves actually hold within them 5 separate pieces. I mechanically surface cleaned the items and the went ahead and scanned them.

Scanning, Max Gill, Sirpa Kutilainen, University of Brighton Design Archives
Original artwork for the North Moreton war memorial

In the collection owners numbering system, item number 2 is Gill’s North Moreton ‘triptych’ from 1921. It holds within it two black & white photographs attached to board and a watercolour and ink piece of original artwork. The photographs’ dimensions are small and they fit into our scanner perfectly but the original artwork needed to be scanned in two halves and pasted together using Photoshop.

The original artwork is generally in good condition, though the paper itself is very thin. There are creases and pin holes on the piece showing great evidence of it being a ‘living thing’ at the time. These will be left as found.

The photographs have slight fading along the edges, but like most black and white photographs, they have stood the test of time very well. In an ideal situation and with a lot more time, I would determine whether removing the backing boards from the photographs would be advisable. A lot of objects out there are mounted in this manner, but if the board used for mounting is of an acidic nature, this can cause objects unnecessary deterioration in the future. The adhesives and tapes used in sticking objects to backing boards can also cause harm and discolouration. Backing removal is a very long process as the layers of backing boards need to be removed one thin layer at a time to avoid making the object adhered to them to lose strength. Top layers are obviously a lot easier to remove, but the closer you get to the original, the more risk there is of damaging it. Not for the faint hearted!

Scanning, Max Gill, Sirpa Kutilainen, University of Brighton Design Archives
One of the two Coventry tapestry miniatures

In the numbering system, item number 36 is a miniature version of the Coventry tapestry from 1937. This holds two separate pieces within it. These are original watercolour paintings on thick board that are basically incredibly detailed realisations working towards the final tapestry. The dimensions of the miniatures are 268 x 90mm and 243 x 94mm. There are also pieces of black and white photography adhered on top to illustrate the text areas of the tapestries. The colours on these objects are in immaculate condition and the only issue with them is the board in which they are on bending slightly inwards. This is a great visual demonstration of the grain direction of the board accented by the use of watercolours – the water has acted as an agent that saturates the paper fibres on contact and retracts again when drying, causing the board to bend in on itself.

These five objects have now been cleaned, scanned and passed on to the Senior Technician David Cooper for framing as they do not require any conservation work aside from the mechanical surface clean.

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