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11 Jan 2023

Conserving our collections: the paper fan from Newhailes

Conserving our collections: Newhailes paper fan


Two speakers: Lesley Scott [LS] and Helen Creasy [HC]

[LS] My name is Lesley Scott. I'm the Regional Conservator for Edinburgh and East for the National Trust for Scotland.
At the National Trust for Scotland we have hundreds of thousands of items in our collections, and unlike a museum, many of them are on open display in room settings.
As these collections can be made of many different types of materials, we have to make sure that we have processes by which we can care for these items and preserve them for the long term.
We do this through preventive practices that the three regional conservators roll out with Collections Care staff at properties.
In the situations where we need to do more work in remedial conservation, we send them out to accredited conservators.
I'm here today with Helen Creasy at the Scottish Conservation Studio as she undertakes remedial work on the paper fan from Newhailes. Before coming for conservation, the fan had been on display at Gladstone’s Land in a re-creation of a draper's shop from 1766.
Although the Trust does undertake preventive conservation practices and we monitor items when they're on display, sometimes there is an issue with mechanical, chemical or biological damage to objects.
The fan had actually had some mechanical damage before it came for conservation.

[HC] I'm Helen Creasy and I'm the paper conservator here at the Scottish Conservation Studio.
We've had the privilege of having this very old and delicate fan that's come from the National Trust for Scotland into the studio for us to stabilise it and make it safe for handling and look better than it has done for the last few years.
The main condition issues about the fan were that the paper was incredibly weak, degraded due to light and wear and tear in the past, and someone had done some repairs on the fan when it had been broken and those set up uneven tensions within the work.
So, we've had to reverse those and take away some of the staining from that adhesive. There's all sorts of things surprisingly that can go wrong with works on paper.

[LS] The collections that we’re displaying at Gladstone’s Land from Newhailes are going to be rotated. The fan will be going back into storage because we like to rest the collections.

At the National Trust for Scotland we care for many thousands of items in our collections. We do this mainly through preventive practices carried out by our regional conservators and Collections Care staff at our properties.

In the situations where we need to do more work in remedial conservation, we send items out to accredited conservators.

In this short film, Lesley Scott (Regional Conservator for Edinburgh & East) and Helen Creasy (Paper Conservator at the Scottish Conservation Studio) share how a delicate paper fan has been recently conserved.

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