School of Historical and Philosophical Studies - Theses

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    The digital surrogate for an 18th century manuscript: a method of preservation and access
    Wilkinson, Melanie ( 2009)
    The dissemination of information through technological formats is in a constant state of flux. The constant and rapid evolution of technological tools used to provide access to cultural collections is continuous. The following thesis research explores the concept of a digital surrogate as a means of preserving the physical fabric of a Middle Eastern Manuscript from the University of Melbourne's Special Collections. The utility of a digital platform to enable dialogue between the international community and local caretaker communities of collections, as well as providing an alternative to physical access of a fragile item is the crux of the following thesis research. This thesis research will be divided in to project outcomes and future possibilities. This author explores the logistics of the digitisation process and its use in producing a digital surrogate for a unique volume selected form the Middle Eastern Manuscript collection, MUL 134. This author will then proceed with a discussion surrounding the digital repository of the University of Melbourne. Research surrounding other institutional repositories and their use as a scholarly tool will be compared with the model currently used by the University of Melbourne. Questions of access, management of content and practicality surrounding the digital repository as a platform for digitised collections will also formulate the following research. As a result, an alternative online platform will be proposed as an appropriate channel of access for digitised surrogates of MUL 134, and other volumes from the collection, which may be digitised in the future.
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    A scientific case study of 19th century australian oil paintings in the western district, Victoria
    Griffiths, Alexandra ( 2009)
    The mid-nineteenth century marked a period of immense wealth and expansion within the newly established Australian colony of Victoria. During this time settlers in the predominantly agricultural region of the Western District began to reap the rewards of their labours. Ultimately this engendered an increased investment in easel painting commissions explicitly intended to demonstrate the visual affirmation of the success and status of their patrons. The urbanised centres of the district additionally experienced unprecedented prosperity during the goldrush of the 1850s. When coupled with an increased sense of civic pride this wealth inadvertently resulted in a heightened public awareness in, and advocation for, fine arts. Many important colonial Australian easel paintings originate from this period and in the present day substantial collections are held in both public and private possession in the Western District. In many private collections these works are often contained within architecturally contemporaneous contexts subject to common environmental conditions and considerations. The worth of paintings from Australia's colonial past is inherent in their value not only as aesthetic objects but importantly as significant and inimitable socio-historic documents. As such, the preservation of these artworks is a paramount consideration for the wellbeing of Australia's collective cultural identity. This thesis focuses upon a case study of the materials and techniques associated with two archetypical colonial easel paintings originating from a Western District context. An appraisal of environmental impacts and collection care thus informs the development of a theoretical characterisation of the behavioural tendencies of the two paintings, providing a scientific based prediction of the paintings behavioural responses to given stimuli in the temperate Western District climate. The study substantiates the theoretical assertions associated with material behaviours in the specific environmental context by undertaking experimental investigations of observable responses to recorded conditions. To this aim Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry (ESPI) is employed as a diagnostic technique enabling the examination and corroboration of the assertions of the previous scientific theoretical characterisation. ESPI enabled the measurement of in-plane displacements on the paintings' surfaces in response to environmental stimuli. The results of the experimental investigation not only offers evidence in support of previously ascertained theoretical assertions, but ultimately the technical analysis provides empirical evidence in favour of environmental stabilisation in private collection environments to facilitate the ongoing preservation of this valuable body of historically and aesthetically significant work.
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    An investigation into the effects of dry cleaning sponge treatments on textile fibres
    Firth, Jessie ( 2008)
    This thesis investigates the possibility of using dry cleaning sponges to remove soiling from textile artefacts. A literature review outlines the ethics of cleaning, current textile cleaning techniques, dry cleaning techniques from other conservation disciplines and the uses and composition of dry cleaning sponge. The experimentation is documented and the results of the SEM and EDS analysis discussed. It is concluded that dry cleaning sponge is a viable technique for cleaning textile fibres.
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    The Yackandandah Bullock Hide: an investigation of its meaning and manufacture and conservation treatment of its materials
    Babister, Sarah ( 2009)
    In 1902, the community of Yackandandah in north eastern Victoria celebrated the Coronation of Edward the VII with local festivities including the roasting of a bullock and a public feast. To commemorate the memory of this significant local and international event resident craftsmen made the Bullock Hide, a unique wooden and leather framed object comprising glass, horn, bone, fur, iron, paper and photographic emulsions. This project first establishes the significance of the Bullock Hide through an in depth investigation into its provenance, history, meaning and manufacture. This information was then used to carry out identification of its materials and condition in order to determine the most suitable treatment strategy and methodology. Conservation treatment was then carried out on the Bullock Hide which now forms the basis of a display about the community celebrations at the Yackandandah Bank of Victoria Museum.
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    Comparative study of the properties of jun funori and funori as consolidants for use in conservation
    Johnson, Jean ( 2008)
    Funori, a form of red algae, is generally recognised as a good consolidant for matte paint, with a long history of use in Japan and China. In this study, the purified form, JunFunori, is compared to funori prepared in the traditional manner to determine if its lower level of impurities has an effect on ageing properties. Two additional materials are also tested: isinglass, and a mixture of isinglass and JunFunori. JunFunori is known to produce a weak bond, and mixing it with isinglass, which has been shown in the conservation literature to be another useful consolidant for matte paint, is said to increase bond strength and improve penetration. Previous studies have concentrated on the change in appearance of consolidants applied to unbound pigment samples, or cast as films and then aged. However, the interaction of the consolidant and the support is also of interest. In order to study ageing properties under more realistic conditions, the test solutions are applied in thin layers by brush to two common supports: a modern 100% cotton print paper and a naturally aged paper of unknown composition. The samples are then subjected to accelerated ageing at 100 C for 21 days. Analysis techniques employed include SEM-EDS for determination of presence of impurities such as salts, and optical microscopy for close examination of the surfaces of the samples before and after ageing. Chromaticity and colour difference in CIE L*a*b* coordinates and change in pH are also recorded at various points throughout the experiment. Additionally, FTIR-ATR is employed to detect signs of deterioration of the paper/consolidant system. Results of this preliminary study show that JunFunori does not have a clear advantage over funori in all circumstances. The level of impurities and colour of traditional funori do not appear to be of great importance in the thin films studied in this experiment.
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    Watching paint dry: investigation of the rate of drying of acrylic emulsion paint via dimensional change (negative strain) with electronic speckle pattern interferometry (espi)
    Cranstone, Olivia ( 2009)
    Acrylic emulsion paint is one of the most recent of the major classes of modern paints to come out of the Twentieth Century. It was first introduced in the early 1950s, manufactured by Henry Levison's Liquitex, and research into the behaviour and aging of acrylics is still in its early stages. Its popularity by artists today rivals that of traditional oil paints, but there is still much to learn about the nature of these paints. A solid acrylic paint film is essentially formed by the evaporation of water, and the eventual coalescence of the polymer particles. The volume of an acrylic emulsion paint film decreases as it loses its water content during the drying process, and it is therefore expected to contract, or show a negative strain. This minor thesis research investigates the movement and strain produced during the drying process of acrylic paint using electronic speckle pattern interferometry (ESPI). ESPI is a non-invasive and highly sensitive technique able to detect in-plane and out-of-plane displacements in a material's surface which are undetectable to the naked eye. This project uses this technique to measure the in-plane displacement of acrylic emulsion paint film and characterise the changes that occur as it dries in different environments. These environments range from ambient room temperature and relative humidity (RH), raised temperature and ambient RH, and lowered temperature and ambient RH. The test samples include titanium white, burnt sienna and pyrrole red paints of Golden and Winsor & Newton brands, and were painted on solid, Mylar-covered supports to minimise the influence of the substrate in the different environments. The findings suggest that the drying process does produce strain, although minimal. While factors such as temperature, humidity and air flow affect the drying time of the paint film, no correlation between these factors and the amount or rate of strain produced during film formation is evident. 3 EPSI was found to be a suitable and effective technique to characterise the surface activity, displacement and strain in a painted surface. However, inconsistencies with some of the results highlighted the need for tight controls for testing, such as air flow, temperature and humidity.
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    The conservation and partial restoration of a tethered remotely operating vehicle
    Kilpa, Alex ( 2009)
    The treatment of modern fabrication materials retrieved from marine environments is a challenging new frontier for maritime archaeological conservators. In this study a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) that had been lost at sea for 10 years was successfully disassembled, stabilised and reassembled. In addition to the stabilisation of this object and upon direction from the Curator of Maritime History, the port side of the vehicle was restored utilising materials similar to those used in the original design. It was considered that this approach would enhance the objects interpretive value as part of an exhibition highlighting the importance of the off shore oil and gas industry in Western Australia. In its reconstructed state the outcome of this project has been the development of an educational tool that can be used by Conservation, Maritime Archaeology and Maritime History to demonstrate the degradation of materials that have been subjected to prolonged exposure to a marine environment.
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    An investigation into the production, storage and packing of bark paintings in art centres in Arnhem Land, northern Australia.
    Boyd, Amy ( 2008)
    Australian Aboriginal bark paintings on sheets of stringybark (eucalyptus tetradonta) provide an important basis for both a form of continued cultural expression and an acclaimed contemporary art form. In recent years, the deterioration of bark paintings has been found to be influenced by a combination of factors, including: the physical characteristics inherent in the materials; the external processing techniques applied to the materials; and the subsequent handling, storage and treatment of the paintings. However, while the increased susceptibility of bark to damage in uncontrolled environments has been well reported, the relationship between these issues and the often remote art centre locations in which bark paintings are produced has not previously been the subject of detailed consideration.This paper, based on a two week case study at Injalak Arts and Crafts Association in Oenpelli (Gunbalanya), and a survey of other established art centres in Arnhem Land and public institutions throughout Australia, provides an account of contemporary practice in the preparation of bark paintings within Arnhem Land, and the conditions of storage and transport of bark paintings within both the remotely located art centres and the public institutions in which many of these paintings are subsequently housed. It draws a number of conclusions about the practices of art centres and public institutions, details concerns specific to each, and identifies that the art centre has a potentially significant role in relation to the conditioning of bark paintings in the art centre environment. The paper provides recommendations for further research in this area in order to understand the unique role played by art centres and the impact of the art centre environment on the future conservation needs of bark paintings.
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    Melbourne's post-WWII processional Chinese dragons
    Dallwitz, Rebecca ( 2007)
    Very little research into dragons, dragon performance and the performance context in Melbourne has been completed. Chinese dragon performances currently take place twice yearly in Melbourne, for Chinese New Year and on Labour Day for Moomba, as part of larger processions. Three dragons are housed in the Museum of Chinese Australian History, Melbourne. Evidence amassed during the research shows four processional dragons owned by Melbourne organisations being performed in Melbourne in the latter half of the twentieth century. This study seeks to contextualise Melbourne's post-WWII dragons, by exploring their commissioning, design, making, naming, ceremonies, performance, and meaning. During the research, the dragons housed at the Museum of Chinese Australian History were extensively examined. Resultant findings on structure, surface, materials and manufacture in extant dragons, and continuity and change in these features are presented. As it is clearly insufficient to describe performing objects solely in their static state, performative effects arising from the dragons' materiality, interaction with movement of performers, the performance environment and the audience are discussed. Issues in the conservation, preservation, and display of dragons deriving from information obtained during interviews, the observation of ceremonies and the examination of dragons are presented, and recommendations made.
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    Keris: symbol of power and identity
    Harvey, Georgia ( 2006)
    The keris is a dagger indigenous to the Indon-Malay archipelago, valued as a cultural icon and attributed with talismanic powers. The technologies employed in its manufacture and stylistic conventions followed are largely local in origin. The tradition of staining the blade with arsenic and citric acid to heighten the contrast of the pattern welded surface is unique; it serves to improve the physical condition and aesthetic integrity of the blade, as well as demonstrate continued spiritual connection between owner and keris. Some keris are considered sacred in their original context, and it is possible that certain keris in public collections may too be considered special even once extracted from their context. Museums and museum professionals have an increasing responsibility to ensure potentially sacred objects in their care are treated in a way which respects the beliefs of original owners / makers. Museums also have a responsibility to the health and safety of their staff, and to identifying potentially hazardous substances within their collections. Testing undertaken on nine keris in the Museum Victoria collection indicate arsenic residues may be present on keris blades long after acquisition. Guidelines are therefore offered which provide suggestions for culturally sensitive care of keris in public collections, as well as highlighting OHS concerns for staff. Major conservation concerns of keris in public collections are examined, with corrosion of metal parts found to be the most pervasive. A case for restoration of keris in museums is made, using traditional techniques and involving community members and experts. Not only would this improve the condition of many degraded daggers, it would reinvest the objects with meaning, forge new links between objects and communities, and educate conservators about traditional practices.