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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

Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

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

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

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

After treatment of the installed mural at the Heritage Centre

After treatment of the installed mural at the Heritage Centre. A small area at the upper centre of the mural shows the wood lathe strips, mortar and plaster construction of this historic mural.

Disney Artist’s Legacy Lives On

by Cheryle Harrison

A section of a mural sat propped in a Port Coquitlam basement for five years after its hasty removal from the historic Wild Duck Inn prior to the inn’s demolition in 2008. The inn, located along the Pitt River, was once a popular hunting and fishing destination. Dating back to 1912, the building had served as a CPR bunkhouse, hunting lodge and, finally, local pub.

The 2 x 4 metre mural section was extensively damaged, but a local cultural group recognized its heritage value. The comedic scene, employing a distinctive 1950s cartoon style, depicts hunters, dogs, ducks and boaters interacting along a marshy shore. Its creator was pub patron and Vancouver artist Peter Carter-Page, a humourist and cartoonist who worked for Disney Studios and The Province newspaper.

Many murals considered to hold heritage value are informal painted scenes decorating special events rooms or public spaces in buildings. Carter-Page painted his mural directly onto one of the Wild Duck’s lathe-and-plaster walls. Over the many years of storage, the unsupported detached wall twisted and the mural weakened further. Areas of plaster began to crack and pop out of place. Large gaps appeared where the gypsum and horsehair plaster mixture was not well attached to the lathe base. Dislodged plaster segments crumbled and wedged beneath the plaster, creating fractures and more damage. Holes, nails, material loss, fractured and smashed plaster, broken lathe – all contributed to the list of conservation challenges.

Mural detail showing plaster damage and paint losses

Mural detail showing plaster damage and paint losses

A plaster and adhesive slurry was injected between the layers to reattach the plaster to lathe. Loose pieces of the mural were collected, repositioned in jigsaw puzzle fashion and reattached. Large losses were rebuilt using extra plaster remnants in a mosaic technique to re-create the mural’s original textured surface. Filling and in-painting of losses were kept to a minimum to maintain the mural’s aged historical character following museum standards.

Addressing several decades of environmental wear-and-tear presented further challenges. Out came the stir plates, beakers, a pH meter and surfactants (specialized detergents) to prepare customized solutions for removing several decades of grime, black fingerprints, grease marks, paint splatters and fungal stains.

As this process showed, conserving and reinstalling a heritage mural involves extensive planning of minute details to ensure the revived piece has structural integrity, fits its new location, and is safely secured as a permanent installation in a public building.

The Wild Duck Inn’s mural is now displayed in the new Port Coquitlam Heritage Centre with other reminders of local history: Aboriginal masks, archival photographs and artifacts. This past spring, the piece was dedicated during the city’s centennial celebration as members of the community and three generations of the artist’s family looked on. The conservation challenges presented by this project were no laughing matter, but history comes in many forms and humour is this artist’s legacy.

Previously: Iron in Paper: Problems and Current Solutions - Part 2
Next issue: The Conservation Treatment of Joe Average’s Space Ship Go Bye Bye


 Fri, Jun 7, 2013