From the 26th to the 30th of October 2015, Amiel Clarke (2nd year student), Kari Rayner (1st year Post Graduate Intern), Sarah Bayliss (1st year Post Graduate Intern) and myself (1st year Post Graduate Intern) accompanied Senior Painting Conservator Mary Kempski to Middle Temple in London (http://www.middletemple.org.uk/).
Middle Temple is one of the four Inns of Court which have the exclusive right to call students to the Bar. One of Middle Temple’s main functions now is to provide education and support for new members to the profession. It is also a professional society with international members. Middle Temple is located in the wider Temple area of London, near the Royal Courts of Justice. One of their core purposes is the maintenance of the Inn’s estate and its historic heritage: this is where we painting conservators come in.
We were called to treat paintings with various damages, such as small tears, scratches in the varnish or matt spots, and the accumulation of heavy grime. The specific setting at Middle Temple presented additional complications and required problem solving as a team.
The work was done on site, as the paintings needed minor treatments. The challenge was twofold: conserving 7 paintings, mostly portraits, in four days and doing so in a restricted space. This meant collaborating with each other at all times, as some of the paintings were large and could not be moved single-handedly. The configuration of the room also had to be modified numerous times in order to swap the artworks around and allow framing on the tables.
This on-site job was beneficial for both student and interns, as it taught us to work closely with each other. Repeating the treatments on the frames helped us get better and faster at framing: lining the rebate with both brown paper and felt, measuring and cutting balsa spacers to prevent the painting from slipping in the frame, applying soft backboards made out of Tyvek…Having the chance to work in such a secret and beautiful environment is always a benefit, especially when areas are not open to the public and we would not have had the occasion to visit Middle Temple otherwise. We would like to thank Lesley Whitelaw, Senior Archivist at Middle Temple, for making our stay so enjoyable, and will now let the photos speak for themselves.
Camille Polkownik – 1st year Post Graduate Intern at the Hamilton Kerr Institute
Ms Camille Polkownik graduated with a Master Degree in the Conservation and Restoration of Paintings in 2014, from the École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre in Brussels . She also has a Bachelor degree in the Conservation and Restoration of Painted Works (2011) from the Superior School of Fine Arts, in Avignon, France. She has interned in the Royal Institute for Culture Heritage (KIK-IRPA, Belgium), the Museum of Fine Arts in Nice (France), in private studios and at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia).
To contact Camille Polkownik : firstname.lastname@example.org