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CURRENT COLUMN

Seeing in Different Ways: A Liz Magor Backpack Project
Seeing in Different Ways:
A Liz Magor Backpack Project

Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)

Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)

Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum
Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)
Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)


Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 2)


Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 1)

After treatment
Oscar Cahén: Innovative Conservation
for an Innovative Artist

Structural
Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural
Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

Digital
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 4: Digital-based Material

Photos
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 3: Photo-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 2: Paper-based Material

First Steps
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 1: The First Steps

Natural Dyes
The Use of Natural Dyes in Textile Conservation

Butterfly
A Relocation Project

Challenges of Preserving Contemporary Artwork

Preserve Your Investment through Art Conservation

A Project Completed: Heritage Preserved

Old and New Methods for Cleaning Paintings

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I? Part 2

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I?

The E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

Is She or Is She Not an Emily

Treating Art with Sensitive Media

Malaspina Mural: An Update

For the Artist: Testing Your Materials

Conservator as Art Historian

Alum Sizing and the Art of W.J. Phillips

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith Wood Block Print

Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr

The Treatment of a Monumental Wall Hanging

Changing Images

Preserving a Rare Record

Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine

The Case Against Canvas Backings

Heritage Colours: Research Discovers Original Colours

Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protecting

The Double-Sided Emily Carr Painting

Choosing a Period Picture Frame

How to Identify a Picture Frame

Stretching Canvas and Restretching Artwork

Mounting Textiles

Aging Paintings:
Some Causes and Effects

Chine Collé Prints

What's Your Favourite Color?

Backing Removals

Rips, Holes and Tears

Filling in the Gaps

DIY – Preventative Care of Paintings

Frame it Right

Fire, Water and Smoke-Damaged Paintings

Inherent Vice

Saturated Problems:
A Water-Damaged Painting

Moldy Paper

Conserving Time

Conserving Paper: Dos and Don'ts

Repair of Textiles

Conserving Wood

Rescuing Endangered Murals

Repairing Acid-Matte Burn

Art Services & Materials
Exhibition Openings & Events


Conservation Corner Back

E.J. Hughes mural detail after conservation

E.J. Hughes mural detail after conservation treatment completed.

E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

by Cheryle Harrison
conserv1@telus.net

A saga defines itself by its endurance, and E.J. Hughes's 1938 mural, Captain Malaspina Sketching the Galleries of Gabriola, is an expanded tale of our visual history. This mural measures 2.75 x 5.2 x .216 metres (9 x 17 x 0.71 feet), and is presently in six sections since being removed in 1996 from the now-demolished Malaspina Hotel in Nanaimo, B.C. In preparation for its removal, thousands of squares of tissue were applied to cover the painted surface of the mural. These tissue layers protected fragile areas.

E.J. Hughes mural prior to removal

E.J. Hughes mural prior to removal from Malaspina Hotel. Wood studs are attached to front of mural

Emily Carr, Somewhere, after

Detached piece of concrete, mortar and plaster

In the past, the mural was moved several times and stored under varied conditions, which included freezing temperatures, wet conditions, and desiccating heat. Thirteen years later, this impressive mural with its monumental figures and colourful and lively composition, is being readied for installation within the Nanaimo Conference Centre.

Conservation treatment commenced in January 2008, and it was impossible to see the present day condition of the mural until the tissue layers were removed. As the tissue was removed, a number of additional structural challenges were discovered, such as an irregular detachment and cracking of original paint along the perimeter of each mural section. The painting had separated from its underlying plaster layer and it was necessary to invent multi-stage methods to re-attach the paint to the plaster.

The sides of each section of the mural were found to be crushed and damaged. A dramatic moment occurred when I delicately removed tissue along a section's corner, and a piece of the concrete, mortar, and plaster detached in a sizable lump. The original painting was largely intact, as it had attached itself to the underside of the protective tissue covering the face of the mural. The area was repaired and the underlying painting was retained.

After a year of additional structural repairs, the conservation treatment nears completion, bringing the mural closer to its return to public display. A further few months will be required for the final preparation of the mural sections, mural installation, and the finishing stages of the project. This nationally important project has extended from an approximated four-month project to what is now expected to encompass 14 months.

This mural project has expanded beyond its image, with the presentation of a series of multi-component events. The Hughes Celebration will include the mural dedication and the premiere of an E.J. Hughes documentary film entitled E.J. Hughes: The Restoration. The events will also include an exhibition of rarely seen E.J. Hughes artwork, workshops, lectures and educational programming.

For further information regarding these upcoming events, visit the Nanaimo Art Gallery's website: nanaimoartgallery.com.

Previously: Is she is or is she not an Emily?
Next issue: A Guide to Framing Glass and Acrylic

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 Fri, Feb 6, 2009