School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    Investigating anoxic storage methods for the long-term preservation of a large, fragile work on paper by Winsome Jobling
    Yee, Sandra ( 2020)
    This thesis investigates the possible causes that may have led to the purported brittle state of a large and fragile paper artwork by Darwin based Papermaker Winsome Jobling. The artwork is a handmade banana (Musa sp.) fibre dress measuring 248.5 x113.5 x15.5cm. SEM-EDS and ATR-FTIR examination of the paper was undertaken to identify any existent degradative products. Research was also undertaken on the current and historic use of anoxic storage systems and the benefit of this form of storage to slow degradation and to ensure the long-term care of the artwork. Although the investigation found no measurable quantities of degradative products, the benefits of anoxic storage is considered and recommended for the long-term storage of this large fragile paper artwork. This thesis investigates the possible causes that may have led to the purported brittle state of a large and fragile paper artwork by Darwin based Papermaker Winsome Jobling. The artwork is a handmade banana (Musa sp.) fibre dress measuring 248.5 x113.5 x15.5cm. SEM-EDS and ATR-FTIR examination of the paper was undertaken to identify any existent degradative products. Research was also undertaken on the current and historic use of anoxic storage systems and the benefit of this form of storage to slow degradation and to ensure the long-term care of the artwork. Although the investigation found no measurable quantities of degradative products, the benefits of anoxic storage is considered and recommended for the long-term storage of this large fragile paper artwork.
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    The conservation of rock-art at gariwerd: a response to recreational impacts
    Welsh, Lucy ( 2020)
    The rock-art at Gariwerd (Grampians National Park) is the most significant in Victoria and presents over 90% of the state's known rock-art Places. Growing recreational use of the national park over the last 50 years has been threatening the safety of the rock-art, among other significant Aboriginal cultural places, with Traditional Owners concerned for the future of their valuable and irreplaceable cultural heritage. Recent closures of special protection areas throughout Gariwerd have allowed conservation professionals to take stock of the damage, and assess the level of work required to conserve and rehabilitate some of the significantly impacted rock-art locations throughout the National Park. While the rock-climbing community are concerned for the future of their recreational 'heritage', the future of Gariwerd rock-art grows increasingly uncertain. This thesis looks at the history of conservation at Gariwerd through the literature and ongoing use of practical conservation techniques to identify if and how conservation of the rock-art at Gariwerd can be achieved. This thesis discusses how ongoing closures to recreational activity may be the only solution to protect the significant cultural assets located throughout he Gariwerd landscape.
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    Climate change and cultural material conservation in Australia
    Thomev, Velika ( 2020)
    Inspired by a desire to create an overview of the situation of conservators and climate change in Australia, this thesis looks to understand conservators' responses to climate change in a general sense, and then summarize and explain adaptation methods that have begun to augment the risk of climate change to cultural heritage through a review and gaps analysis. This thesis will examine the threat of climate change and how it relates to the role of the modern conservator and the need to engage professionally with the risk to cultural collections. Climate change predictions and observed changes will be described in Australia to situate the discussion of risk, with risks for different types of cultural heritage. Responses to climate change will then be examined, with a focus on what has been done, internationally to situate the discussion before focusing on Australia, with individual, organizational as well as government responses and a discussion of potential theories as to why. A longer focus will be on a synopsis of the adaptation measures and strategies that have begun to be implemented by whom and how. Based on this research, it is concluded that although there have been numerous pushes and recognition on the potential risks of climate change, it has often been a minority of voices and has failed to gain significant traction as a standalone or urgent theme of risk. A continuation of research is recommended, especially into the threat posed to different types of collections in the Australian context to better plan and confidently implement any adaptation strategies that might be necessary, and to better understand if and what the tangible risks are.
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    The conservation of conservation: the excavation, preservation and restoration of conservation's past through historiographical analysis
    Walker, Isabella ( 2020)
    This thesis identifies a central contradiction in the ideological framework of the Western conservation profession: for a profession that is indeed founded on the value of history and the importance of the preservation of historical materials, it is ironic how little interest is given to conservation's own past by conservators themselves. In 1967, Belgian conservator Roger Marijnissen noted that the field of conservation history had "barely been explored"; 55 years since Marijnissen's declaration, there has been only limited development within English conservation history scholarship, and little in the way of historiographical critique (1967, p. 275). In light of the limitations of this field, this thesis thus poses - and answers - the questions: What value does conservation's own past have for the present and future of the profession? Should the history of conservation itself be conserved? This thesis responds to these questions first by situating its project in a broader theoretical landscape, giving particular focus to Hanna Holling's 2017 essay "The Technique of Conservation: On Realms of Theory and Cultures of Practice", which calls for a reassessment of conservation's historiography. It examines the current historiographical field, and demonstrates the brevity of this current field of scholarship. It demonstrates the implications of conservation's limited historiography via a close textual analysis of a case study - the work of an influential (yet relatively unknown) early practitioner - the German chemist-turned-'first conservator' Friedrich Rathgen. Through an analysis of his seminal text, The Conservation of Antiquities (1898), this thesis demonstrates that Rathgen's influence extends beyond his practical innovations in the field: his work also played a crucial role in the formation of the profession's ethical framework, implicit values and, indeed, its relationship to its past. In so doing, it posits that a devaluing of conservation's history prohibits an identification of the tacit values that lie underneath the profession's foundational principles. Ultimately, this thesis demonstrates that a greater awareness of the value that is to be found in the history of conservation - and a more thorough, diverse and critical historiographical scholarship - allows the profession to be self-reflexive as it evolves in the present and future, and to affirm its ongoing project of collaborative and interdisciplinary development.
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    Investigating KARIBARI, the drying boards and their materials used
    Song, Sandra ( 2020)
    The primary aim of this research project was to investigate the karibari board, its manufacturing process and the materials used, and to compare it to the other drying boards and alternatives, in order to summarise the use of drying boards for treatment application in conservation. The report investigated the karibari board manufacturing process, and the other potential alternatives, from different materials of interior layers and surface coatings, through a literature review to generate baseline data in order to provide a comparison with key practitioners and their research with the karibari board manufacturing process. Specialised and experienced conservators were surveyed, and the collected data analysed through the application of a quantitative approach method. Survey questions were developed to determine which drying board they usually use in conservation studios/labs and to assess the product satisfaction in relation to the use of drying boards. The author identified research questions and analysed the issues with investigating the physical and chemical backgrounds of the drying method, and the materials used in the manufacturing process. The selection of materials would be influenced by their working performance and physical properties - drying tension on paper and board - when the karibari board is used as a method of conservation treatment. The surface coating which is applied on the board is also a critical factor that would affect the working properties.
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    Sign of the Sun: Determining the Original Binding for the Grammar Book Whitintoni Editio cum interpretamento Francisci Nigri Diomedes de Accentu, Written by Robert Whittington (c. 1480-1553) and Printed by Wynkyn de Worde (ca.-1534) 1519
    Ranisau, Amalia ( 2020)
    The book of grammar being examined in this research is a rare example of post-incunabula printing by Wynkyn de Worde, an early publisher and printer, who popularised the printed word throughout England in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Using a multi-disciplinary approach this research is informed by a thorough examination of the book itself, comparison with contemporaneous bindings by the same printer and knowledge of the use of similar grammar books at the time. Being inadequately rebound in the 18th century, wrongly collated and in need of repair when it entered the Rare Book Collection of the State Library of South Australia in late 1980s, the book was disbound in order to correct the collation. This allowed an opportunity to safely digitise the item and research the printed text to determine the original binding before performing the required conservation treatment. This investigation lead to discoveries regarding the book's provenance, the origin of the materials from which it was constructed and adds value to its significance in the history of book production. By the creation of models of different binding styles, this thesis adds a practical angle which will also inform the decision-making process, aiming to select the most appropriate conservation treatment and rebinding style.
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    Art in flux: stewarding Learning to Love You More along its life trajectory
    Mansfield, Lisa ( 2020)
    This thesis deep-dives into the complexities of conserving Learning to Love You More (2002-2009), using it as a case study to examine the long-term preservation challenges for work built in and living on an ever-changing technological network. Acquired by SFMOMA in 2010, Learning to Love You More (2002-2009), can be considered one of the first transnational, multimodal communication platforms, making it a significant touchstone in both net art and social media histories. The participatory net art project connected people globally before the ubiquitous rise of social networking, Web 2.0 blogging, and video-sharing platforms. Its open-call for collaborators-artists and non-artists, project participants and strangers-saw it receive over 8,000 submissions (reports) in response to 70 creative assignments set by artists Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July. As an online archive, its audio-visual functionality is affected by technological obsolescence. A holistic approach to document the work's functionality and experience demonstrated that prescribed documentation tools are subject to the same technical obsolescence as the works they seek to capture. Net art's unique encoded properties allow conservation interventions to be truly reversible, in line with guiding ethical principles. Treatments can be enacted and redacted over time, with multiple strategies explored simultaneously. Consolidating current conservation discourse that acknowledges change as a positive act, Holling's assertion of temporal duration is also considered here as a more universal way of understanding the change treatment paradigm. Presenting a concurrent non-oppositional mode from which the field can address the challenges of both fast and slow changes as conservator's steward an artwork over part of its life trajectory.
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    The Support Materials of Australian Women War Artists: Investigations into Supply and Choice Concerning Works in Oil by Nora Heysen, Stella Bowen, and Sybil Craig (1943-1946)
    Raynolds, Louella ( 2020)
    From a conservation perspective, the materials and techniques used by Australian women artists during the Second World War have been largely under-researched. The breadth and depth of the archival and object-based collection at the Australian War Memorial provides the opportunity to address this research gap. From 1943 to 1946 the Memorial commissioned three women artists, Nora Heysen (1911-2003), Stella Bowen (1893-1947), and Sybil Craig (1901-1989) to paint under the Official War Artist Scheme. As a result, the institution holds an extensive collection of work by these artists concerning a period of unique historical interest. Combining art history and archival research with a survey into the materials and techniques of this collection, this minor thesis aims to gain a deeper understanding of the way supply, choice, and circumstance affected how these artists produced work during wartime. In some respects, the research highlighted the use of locally available materials such as repurposed boards found by Nora Heysen in the context of where she was commissioned in New Guinea and war-grade materials available to Stella Bowen from where she was based in London. While Nora Heysen and Sybil Craig used the supports supplied to them by the Australian War Memorial, they also used utilised other materials, both found and commercial, that were available to them whilst under direct commission. Of those painting supports with artists colourmen stamps, this provided a direct link to their origins. Overall, the study provided a unique insight into the material supply of war artists of this era, as well as addressing a gap in research concerning these Australian women artists.
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    The Land of Streams Glen Moriston Invernesshire 1881
    Morrison, Emma ( 2020)
    Nineteenth century Victoria witnessed the acquisition of large-scale oil paintings from abroad, highlighting a biographical and transnational history of material culture. The Land of Streams Glen Moriston Invernesshire painted by Charles Edward Johnson (1832- 1913), an English artist, in 1881, is an example of such a painting, produced in Britain and transported to Australia, thereon acquired by Warrnambool Art Gallery (WAG) in 1939 (Johnson 1881). Now 139 years old, and currently housed at WAG, the biographical history of this painting illustrates how it was deemed suitable to be transported to Australia as it represented a contemporary style of production that was considered essential to any serious Australian art collection. Therefore, the aim of the thesis was to undertake a materials conservation investigation to reveal its historic nature, the conventions of representation of the Scottish Highlands in the nineteenth century and the collection and display of British art in Australia. This multidisciplinary essay combines traditional art historical research and scientific instrumental analysis in the form of a technical art study. A holistic methodology provides technical information and insight into Johnson's painting practice, materials and methods, and the painting's biographical evidence to support its transnational history. The results of using these three techniques of knowing a painting suggest that Johnson followed a traditional nineteenth century painting practice, through the use of a professionally made stretcher and canvas, and the incorporation of a size and ground layer. Additionally, the presence of lead in the materials and elemental analysis from different areas of the painting indicate the presence of a consistent lead white ground layer. The paint layer appears to consist of oil-bound pigments with a surface layer of a resinous material, suggestive of a megilp medium or natural resin varnish.. Furthermore, the painting appears to have been stored in an environment conducive to pollution, moisture and pests, in addition to physical stressors. The painting appears to have been damaged some time ago, and to have remained in this state, as a result of a lack of conservation intervention and changing environmental conditions.
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    Art Material Availability in 20th century Southeast Asia: Japan-Occupied Indonesia, 1942-45
    Putri, Gadis Fitriana ( 2020)
    Across Southeast Asia, the sudden overthrow of Western colonial structures resulting from World War II brought about many societal shifts including the arts and its material production. In particular, Indonesia saw an unprecedented support for local bunkajin (men of culture) by the Japanese Military Administration under the guise of the Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere propaganda from 1942 to 1945. Art historical discourse on the occupation's relationship to the development of modern arts in Indonesia, has mainly concentrated on the period's impact to artistic ideological turn towards social-realism. Limited research, however, has focussed on its influence on the materiality of artworks produced within this timeframe. This thesis focusses on the factors surrounding material availability and accessibility faced by Indonesian painters as facilitated by Japan-provisioned auxiliary cultural bodies during the occupation period. This research considers the role that materiality and technological history may contribute to a more nuanced historical understanding of modern painting practices in the region. As there are few studies on 20th-century modern painting materials in Indonesia, this thesis seeks to provide a preliminary survey and investigation on the availability and flow of artist colourmen and household-grade products starting from the late-colonial period of the 1900s until the end of Japanese occupation period in 1945. The methodology of this thesis turned to focus on archivebased investigation encompassing ephemeral documents and oral histories. Evidence highlights the artists' adoption of household and industrial-quality materials, a scarcity of colourmen products, and the significant role of Japan's admission and their influence on artistic material choice in Indonesia during and after the War. Findings presented in this thesis hope to offer deeper insight and inform future material analyses and conservation strategies.