A Day Out is a sculpture installation by artist Marguerite Derricourt of four cast bronze pigs and a customised rubbish bin with cast bronze rubbish to the top.
The sculpture is located in a prominent position in the busy pedestrianised precinct of Rundle Mall, in the city centre of Adelaide. The pigs are open to public interaction, with children and adults regularly seen riding, patting and posing for photos on their visit to the Mall. Unfortunately, at some point in the early morning of the 23rd September 2020 the pigs were vandalised by a visitor who applied a corrosive substance to their surfaces. The substance was applied as splatters and more legible written words to the eyes, back and flanks of all pigs.
Later in the morning of the 23rd Rundle Mall Management staff discovered the damage and the pigs were given an aqueous clean to remove the accretion. The cleaning successfully removed the accretion however it was found that the substance had etched through the natural patina of the bronze and into the base metal. The damage and inscriptions were in bright bare metal and clearly visible against the dark natural patina of the bronze. In the past, Artlab had undertaken work on the artwork for the City of Adelaide so we were engaged to restore the vandalised areas.
The desired outcome of the treatment was to make sure the graffiti etched surfaces would not be visible or readily interpreted when the treatment was complete. The decision was therefore made to remove as much as necessary, but as little as possible, of the original patina affected by the damage. The surfaces would then be artificially patinated (coloured) to match the remaining patina.
The sculptural parts were initially cleaned using water and non-ionic detergent to remove any loose dirt and accretions, followed by a solvent clean to remove adhesive stickers and more tenacious accretions.
The damaged areas were abraded through to base metal with abrasive cloths. The bare bright coloured metal surfaces were then artificially patinated (coloured) with chemical solutions applied to the cold and heated metal surface. It is expected that the artificial colour will be improved by exposure to the environment (rain) and naturally tarnish to match the existing patina colour. It is also expected that the pigs will receive further rubbing and interaction by the public and this will help the softening of colours and produce evidence of wear. The surfaces were left to stabilise for several days before being coated in a protective microcrystalline wax.
Ian Miles, Senior Metals Conservator cleaning and removing graffiti, A Day Out, sculptor, Marguerite Derricourt; City of Adelaide.
During the cleaning treatment, A Day Out, sculptor, Marguerite Derricourt; City of Adelaide.
Artificial patination (colouring) of the damaged areas to match the original patina (colour), A Day Out, sculptor, Marguerite Derricourt; City of Adelaide.
Before treatment image showing the extent of the damage on one of the sculptures, A Day Out, sculptor, Marguerite Derricourt; City of Adelaide.
The sculpture after treatment, A Day Out, sculptor, Marguerite Derricourt; City of Adelaide.