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13 June 2011

Friday 10th June 2011; Water Repellants, Consolidants & Conservation of Paint on Stone

Week 9 of 12 
Module 5: Conservation Interventions and Treatments; Criteria for Selection and Implementation

We had our first official lecture from Simon Warrack the Stone Conservation course co-ordinator this morning discussing his experience of 'Working with 'Reversibility'- Case Study at Angkor Wat'. A huge conservation project has been underway at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, since (I believe) the turn of this century. There were about four zones, which Simon highlighted, that were considered to be in the worst state of deterioration at the start of this project, each for different reasons; water ingress, collapse and previous conservators! Simon was keen to say that many of the previous conservation 'mistakes' were simply due to the accepted conservation practice at that time, which were then considered correct. It is only since then that we have been discovering the negative aspects of many of these treatments. The main point of the presentation was the discussion about 'reversibility'. Simon showed us how a resin coating had been applied inside a temple on some very fine carved work all around the walls, which would have been justified at the time due to its ability to be reversed, i.e. if you put the resin in a solvent it can be dissolved and therefore in theory it can be removed from the stone. In practice, however, the resin caused a great deal of damage due to its impermeable nature and was causing a large amount of damage to the stone behind and serious losses in detail to the surface. Following many trials they did identify a method for removing much of the resin, but considerable loss of the stone's surface had occurred and consolidation was required. The removal, I understand, took 4 years and when you consider it probably took just a few days to apply does this really make the concept of reversibility desirable?

We received additional lectures from George Wheeler and Gottfried Hauff on 'Water Repellants', 'Evaluating the Performance of Consolidants' and on the 'Conservation of Paint on Stone'.

Details to follow...

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