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Although all may be quiet on the outside with the Through the Roof Project we have not been resting on our laurels, I promise! Behind the scenes a team has been beavering away carrying out investigations in the Picture Gallery, analysing samples and using these to inform what we are actually going to do when it comes to the conservation of this space.

 It has been a few weeks now since a team spent a day on the scaffolding investigating the Picture Gallery ceiling. That day however they made some exciting discoveries about the decoration of that floating ceiling which we are now trying to conserve. Click here to see our previous post for more information on what we found.

Early photo of the Picture Gallery from our archives.

Early photo of the Picture Gallery from our archives.

The earliest photos we have of the space show that decorative  border as it is now; one single rectangle around the main ceiling bed. Investigations under raking light however showed us that an earlier decorative border did actually exist and was still under layers of over painting!

Picture taken by Andrew Bush showing the older border visible under raking light.

Picture taken by Andrew Bush paper conservator showing the older border visible under raking light.

   

Our painting conservator Annabelle Monaghan revealed some of this scheme by removing layers of paint.

The small section of the revealed border.

The small section of the revealed border.

 She took a small sample of the paper border on the ceiling and these have been preliminarily analysed over the past few weeks and also sent off for detailed investigation by a forensic art historian. From looking at the samples taken from the border Annabelle has found that the hidden border has four layers…

1. Preparation layer

2. Base layer for original stencilled border

3. Original stencilling

4. Very thin transparent paint layer

 This border was at some point painted over with a creamy oil paint. This oil paint can be removed with a scalpel. Another over paint layer  of white distemper (water based paint with pigment) can be gently removed with water.

The ceiling of the Picture Gallery has now been covered with a protective pad which will support it throughout the duration of the building work that goes on above. However having that window of time to get up and get samples from the ceiling and reveal the older scheme has meant that we now we now can begin to understand the physical evidence in order to inform the actual conservation and potential re-decoration work. But it leaves us with some big questions over what to do next!

The giant pad which has gone up to support the ceiling. Fanatastic photo by Richard Knisely- Marpole

The giant pad which has gone up to support the ceiling. Fantastic photo by Richard Knisely- Marpole

In other Mansion news we thought you may all like to see the Drawing Room here at Attingham without the drugget we use to protect the carpet. For two mornings, before our visitors arrived, the Drawing Room was the star of its very own photo shoot! The pictures taken by the photographer will hopefully be used in an upcoming book. So here’s a few of our own photos with how the room looked.

Rolling up the drugget.

Rolling up the drugget.

We wear protectors on our shoes to protect the historic carpet.

We wear protectors on our shoes to protect the historic carpet.

Making the room look its best

Making the room look its best

The room without its dugget.

The Drawing Room without its drugget.

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