March 2017: News from the Gabo Trust

Grant opportunities: 

ICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference

The Gabo Trust is currently welcoming grant applications from conservators wishing to join the Modern Materials and Contemporary Art Working Group at the ICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference, in Copenhagen 4 - 8 September 2017. For details about the conference, please see the ICOM-CC website.
For details on how to apply for a Gabo Trust grant, please see our website.

Other grants available:

Continuing Professional Development for Individual Conservators
Travel Grants for Individual Conservators
Sculpture Collection Surveys for Museums and Art Galleries
Equipment for Museums and Art Galleries

For full details see our website

In 2016, the Gabo Trust gave grants to a wide number of conservators, enabling them to attend 'Keep It Moving? Conserving Kinetic Sculpture' in Milan and the IIC Congress ‘Saving The Now: Crossing Boundaries to Conserve Contemporary Works’ in Los Angeles.

Keep it Moving? Conserving Kinetic Sculpture 

(photo: Josefina Lopez)

This two-day conference explored ethical dilemmas and practical challenges associated with conserving kinetic works of art.

Conservators from the Sao Paulo Museu de Arte Contemporanea; the Taiwan Conservation Centre at Cheng Shiu University; the Museu Berardo in Portugal and freelance operators from Chile and the USA were able to attend 'Keep it Moving' with our financial assistance. They all reported back to the Gabo Trust that the conference had been most stimulating and useful.

Abigail Mack, of Mack Art Conservation in New York, told us that the value of a conference which focused solely on conserving kinetic art had provided a forum for delving deeper into the complex and multi-faceted challenges of this type of sculpture.

Ariane Lavezzi, from Brazil, explained that there are very few conservation-related events in her native country, especially on kinetic art, although most modern and contemporary collections there include kinetic art. She found that contact with other professionals in the same field was very useful; Ioseba Soraluze, from Taiwan, felt that the high level of the papers and poster presentations would be  a reference point for future conservators involved in kinetic art.

Josefina Lopez, from Chile, was very interested in learning about the conservation work on Latin American kinetic art in institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the thought-provoking presentations and international networking opportunities highlighted possibilities for future collaboration and research. She intends to pass on the basics of kinetic art conservation to colleagues in her country, and to raise awareness of the possibilities offering better solutions for the new challenges to the profession. It was a wonderful opportunity "to represent a region that is often under represented".

Keep it Moving? Conserving Kinetic Art in Milan was presented by Getty Conservation Institute, Museo Del Novecento, and Modern Materials and Contemporary Art working group of ICOM-CC, in partnership with International Network for Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA)

Saving the Now: Crossing Boundaries to Conserve Contemporary Works of art in Los Angeles


(photo: Lyndsay Morgan)

Gabo Trust grants enabled conservators from Midlands State University, Zimbabwe; Glasgow Museums and Tate, UK; Centre Européen d’Archéométrie, Belgium; Queensland Art Gallery, Australia; and freelance conservators from the UK and Germany to attend Saving the Now. There were 600 attendees from 50 countries at this five-day conference, with speakers from many major institutions across the world, who addressed the evolving complexity of the conservation profession. 

Gabo Trust grant recipients all mentioned the excellent papers and opportunities for networking with colleagues, which gave them a real insight into the current thinking within the profession from an international point of view. They benefitted from the interdisciplinary approach of the conference, which spanned art history, architecture, engineering, ethnography, scientific research and curatorial skills; and discussed collaborations which help in tackling complex conservation issues.

Davison Chiwara, from Zimbabwe, was able to establish international internship opportunities for his students, in addition to giving a well received poster presentation. Both Davison Chiwara and Manon D'Haenens, from Belgium, felt the conference was very useful for their PhD research in terms of building both knowledge and contacts. 

Amongst its themes, the conference set up a discussion on the new role of conservators, as co-producers with artists. Stephanie de Roemer, from Glasgow Museums, mentioned that many conservators felt that conservation was often absent from initial discussions on acquisitions, commissions and exhibitions, and that there is an opportunity for conservators to support the wider work practices in museums: to collaborate and exchange ideas, skills and knowledge regarding care for our past, present and future cultural heritage. 

'"The congress participation was a very enriching experience, and thanks to the Gabo Trust, it will continue to inspire my professional life": Julia Langenbacher, freelance conservator from Germany.

Saving the Now: Crossing Boundaries to Conserve Contemporary Works of Art was presented by the IIC in collaboration with INCCA.

Conservation Surveys of Modern and Contemporary Sculpture Collections  

Above: the Hepworth Wakefield (Image courtesy of The Hepworth Wakefield, photograph by Hannah Webster)

Museums in the UK have a shortage of expert conservators of contemporary sculpture. In response to this need, the Gabo Trust has created a grant for specialist sculpture surveys of museum collections of modern and contemporary sculpture. Following very successful surveys at National Galleries of ScotlandSouthampton City Art Gallery and Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, the Gabo Trust has awarded a grant to Hepworth Wakefield. This survey of their Barbara Hepworth and associated sculptures will begin early this year. 

Funding conservation research  

Above: Laura Davies

The Gabo Trust and Hepworth Estate funded  Laura Davies to conduct research towards a PhD:  A technical examination of bronze sculptures by Barbara Hepworth: The characterisation and significance of original patinas. 

Scientific analysis and examination of printed historic sources were undertaken by Laura Davies to characterise the original bronze patina of individual sculptures, as opposed to a subsequent corrosion layer or corroded applied patina layer to a sculpture. Optical microscopy and non-destructive surface analysis methods were explored to discover the physiochemical nature of bronze patinas, and replicated samples were examined using equipment at Imperial College Department of Materials. Hepworth was involved with the patination of her sculptures - demonstrating the importance of the original patina to the aesthetic value of a sculpture - and her correspondence with her foundry, held at Tate Britain Archive, was studied. Laura Davies is now applying the results of her research in her professional capacity.

The Gabo Trust continues to fund a student on the City & Guilds Sculpture Conservation course.