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Sunday, May 15 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
(Textiles) Dissociation Risks: The Conservation of Two Aboriginal Figurines and Their Textiles

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In 2011, two intriguing North-Eastern Woodlands aboriginal figurines were submitted to the labs at the Centre de Conservation du Québec. Our original treatment proposal had been based on the enchanting (but partly erroneous) history of the figurines. It was thought that they were contemporaries of a set of known mid-17th century representations of individual members of the aboriginal community who had been converted by Jesuit missionaries. Such figurines were created as a means to introduce the individuals represented to the Catholic clergy and demonstrate their religious devotion. This paper will discuss two distinct conservation issues concerning these figurines. The first pertains to information that is lost when the caretakers of such rare and unique objects, those who are able to properly identify them, take their retirement or are lost to us without transferring their wealth of knowledge. In the current context of retirements, budget cutbacks and loss of institutional memory, we are at a critical time where the risk of dissociation of aboriginal objects in museum collections from their cultural context is increased. With the aim of keeping the younger generations of aboriginal communities connected with their culture, conservators thus have a responsibility to contribute as much as possible to the history and identification of these objects through current analytical methods and treatment. The second part of the paper will deal with the conservation treatment of the figurines. As these objects were originally intended for study, not display, minimal treatment to non-textile components, and no textile treatment other than careful conditioning, had been at first considered. However, it became clear that consolidation (at the very least) of the textiles would be necessary as they quite literally were falling apart before our eyes. The fragility of the textiles, combined with limited access, ruled out more traditional treatments involving stitching onto a supportive backing. Fresh with ideas gained at the 2011 conference on adhesives and consolidants organized by the Canadian Conservation Institute, we began investigating consolidation of the textiles via ultrasonic misting as one of the treatment options. Though we have not come across this method used on textiles in the literature, with the encouragement and collaboration of some of our colleagues from other disciplines, we tested a number of consolidants in aqueous solutions, and successfully worked out a treatment protocol for the textiles of one figurine using this method. A second treatment option, inspired by facings, thread-by-thread repair and serendipity, was successfully used on the other figurine.

avatar for Nicole Charley

Nicole Charley

Textile Conservator, Centre De Conservation Du Quebec
Nicole Charley obtained her Maîtrise in conservation, textile stream, from the Institut national du patrimoine (Paris, France) in 2004. In 2008, she was accepted into the paid internship program at the Canadian Conservation Institute, and in 2009, was hired at the Centre de conservation... Read More →
avatar for Jean Dendy

Jean Dendy

Conservator of ethnographic materials, Centre de Conservation du Quebec
Jean Dendy completed the Queen's University Master of Art Conservation program, objects stream, in 2008. After having interned at the McCord Museum of Canadian History, the Canadian Museum of Civilisation and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she then went on to work in furniture conservation... Read More →

Sunday May 15, 2016 2:00pm - 2:30pm EDT
Room 511 A/D