Preservation takes centre stage at Etherington

A conservator assesses artwork at an art conservation clinic.
A conservator assesses artwork at an art conservation clinic.

On the popular television show Antiques Roadshow, people show off one-of-a-kind antiques discovered in their basements and attics.

On Sunday, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre took a page from the show, playing host to its own treasure hunt.

The second annual Art Conservation Clinic, which organizers said is modeled after the TV show, provided professional conservation assessments of a variety of objects brought in by members of the Queen’s community and residents of Kingston.

Jennifer Lis, MAC ’06 and organizer of the event, said the clinic was a fundraising event for students in the Masters of Art Conservation program.

Lis said the money will go towards funding the departmental trip to the Annual Conference of the Association of North American Graduate Programs in Conservation, which is being held at the University of Delaware this year.

The $20 ticket to the clinic provided each participant with a 15 minute consultation with the conservator who most closely specialized in the item brought for assessment.

“The professional conservators are assessing restoration needs of the objects, how to properly display or restore the objects, and if possible, they will discuss the historical significance of the piece,” Lis said.

Among the items assessed at this year’s clinic were a hand-woven blanket dating back to the 1800s, a brightly coloured skirt made in 1954, an embroidered silk fan from the 1900s, and a collage painting by Andre Bieler, a local artist who became the head of the department of art at Queen’s in 1936.

The owners of the items were given instructions on how to store and display the items to best preserve them.

“We look at the object in terms of condition, and how to restore it,” said Anne Maheux, a paper conservator from the National Gallery of Canada who was one of nine expert conservators at the event.

“When people come in who don’t know what they have, we can look for visual clues to identify the artist and the date [of the work].” Also included in the cost of admission was a tour of the art conservation program laboratory facilities located in the brown building behind the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

Myriam Lavoie, MAC ’06, works in one of the labs with three other students, restoring items that are contracted to Queen’s by different Canadian museums for this purpose.

“I remember someone brought in tops of cakes with royal icing to be treated. Things like that require more research,” Lavoie said.

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