Forget Shaggy and that catchy tune, drum-roll on cue, allow us to introduce you to two fascinating objects, straight from heaven above.
Well, more precisely, this stunning pair of wooden gilded statues is originally from Blo Norton Hall Chapel in the Breckland district of Norfolk. They have recently been entrusted to the UCL Institute of Archaeology Conservation Department, by Norfolk Museums Service, as they were in need of some tender care. In this first chapter of our series on this ongoing conservation project (run by fellow MSc. Conservation colleague Claire D’Izarny-Gargas at UCL Qatar and us students in London), we shall first describe the initial condition of the angels we have come to love here at the conservation lab. So, without further ado, let’s jump into the thick of it!
Both angels had their outer gilded layer present in a state of dramatic flaking, such that the gold leaf was detaching all over the surface and uncovering the remains of earlier gilded layers. A detailed physical examination revealed that several campaigns of gilding had taken place. Further examination was not easy as the extent of surface delamination meant that handling the object was not possible without risking further surface losses. The following photos reveal the extent of this damage:
From these visual observations, it was clear that the sensory significance of the objects was being compromised and necessitated immediate recourse. This was also since both angels were missing fingers and Angel A in particular was suffering from a fractured arm!
In the next chapter, join us as we report the analytic tests and research which were undertaken to further comprehend the active deterioration and finally guide the treatment choices for the angels.
N.B. All photos by Claire D’Izarny-Gargas.