In 2019 for the Tarnanthi exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia, our paper conservators impeccably prepared two large ochre paintings by Peggy Griffiths-Madij for display.
The ochre paintings arrived at Artlab in two large rolls. The larger work, ‘Being in Country – Woorilbem to Thamberalm’, was 10 metres in length. It had sustained significant damage with handling tears to all edges that we repaired with wheatstarch paste and Japanese paper. It was to be displayed on two walls curving around a corner.
The smaller eight metre work, ‘Standing on Country’, was to be displayed on a flat plinth extending vertically up a wall.
The challenge was to devise a non-permanent mounting system meeting the installation constraints which required the system to safely support the weight and size of the paintings, and not visually impact the works.
Aquila Evill, Senior Paper Conservator and Anna Austin, Conservation Technician, developed a hidden magnetic mounting system and small Japanese paper sleeves were attached at set intervals to all edges of the paintings on the verso, in the Paper studio.
As pictured in the exhibition space, Jodie Scott, Senior Paper Conservator joined the Artlab conservators and worked with the Art Gallery installation team to carefully unroll the paintings. Miniature magnets were slipped into the paper sleeves in the unfurled area and section by section, the artwork was attached to the metal tracking on the wall. This method was repeated along the length of each work until the paintings were both fully secured to the tracking system which was directly hidden behind the artworks.
Aquila Evill repairing a tear on Being in Country – Woorrilbem to Thamberalm, Peggy Griffiths-Madij, Tarnanthi 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Aquila Evill and Anna Austin, working on Being in Country – Woorrilbem to Thamberalm, Peggy Griffiths-Madij, Tarnanthi 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Jodie Scott, Anna Austin and Aquila Evill installing Being in Country – Woorrilbem to Thamberalm, Peggy Griffiths-Madij, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide with Art Gallery Installation team
Aquila Evill, Jodie Scott and Anna Austin with Art Gallery Installation Team installing Standing on Country, Peggy Griffiths-Madij, Tarnanthi 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide