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The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin with the continued support of The Sumitomo Foundation in Tokyo, have now commissioned Restorient to conserve three more of their most treasured Japanese paintings. Dating from the early 17th century this set of hand scrolls chart the epic tale of "Hunting the Ogres" It will be possible to follow the conservation of these magnificent hand scrolls here on this blog. We at Restorient are delighted to have the opportunity to share this remarkable project, and to offer some insights into this type of specialist conservation.

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Wednesday, 28 July 2010


After the excitement of The Netherlands coming second in the World Cup we can at last get back to work. I do though still wonder about the dog who had his tail dyed Dutch Orange for the competition ?

Of recent visitors we were delighted that Keisuke Sugiyama, a fellow conservator from the British Museum came to visit the project. It was really interesting for us to compare notes and talk turned as it will to the critical issue of fibre direction. Briefly, when hand made paper is being formed the fibres tend to align more along a vertical axis rather than horizontally. It is important that this feature is thoroughly appreciated and used to best advantage. Generally fibre directions are crossed to balance the flexibilities of different layers of linings but in the lining of handscrolls especially, various mounting studios have different preferences. The common aim though remains to keep the scrolls soft and flexible.

The discussions could easily go on until the next World Cup and beyond.......

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Beyond the lens...........

macro photo detail

Although many photographs have been taken, it is the information the camera cannot detect which we also have to collect. A great deal of time must be spent poring over every detail as we cannot miss any information which will later help to inform the conservation process.

We knew that the hand scrolls had heavy paper linings with a high clay content which had contributed to the severe creasing. The backing had also been coated with a dusting of mica, a lustrous powdered silicate. (The word "mica" is thought to be derived from the Latin word micare, meaning "to glitter"). This technique is no longer favoured by Japanese scroll-mounters, it was a traditional decorative coating which also helped the scrolls to roll smoothly. It was unfortunately very prone to off-setting and under microscopic examination we found a number of areas where the mica from the backing had transferred to the surface of the paintings.  
We must also consider "historic repairs" and the ethics behind their possible retention. These can pose real conundrums. A skillful repair hundreds of years old can be a thing of real beauty. However an area of hasty retouching using an inappropriate pigment, although historic, might be considered less integral.

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