The Adelaide Cemeteries Authority approached Artlab Australia regarding the conservation of the Benjamin Morey wooden grave marker located at West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide, South Australia.

The grave marker was carved from a single slab of Kauri pine, presumably in 1892. After nearly 130 years of weathering, the marker was in a very poor condition, with incised carving barely visible in the heavily weathered surface. The grave marker had a severe split up through the middle and the base was badly compromised by wet rot.

In consultation with a heritage expert from Heritage South Australia, it was decided the marker should be removed and archived as the original document and replaced with a replica.

Unable to source a solid single slab of Kauri pine, red gum timber was chosen as a substitute. This decision was based on the timbers durability, availability, historical use and also, it is a native to the area.

The text was traced from the original and over-layed onto the new timber slab. The font was extrapolated from a few letters that had received the least amount of weathering. The text was then incised into the timber surface using a variety of chisels and gouges.

The red gum replica was installed at the grave site and the original grave marker will be permanently on display in a new exhibition space at West Terrace Cemetery at a later date.

Conservators removing grave markerAbby Maxwell-Bowen, Conservation  Project Manager and Justin Gare, Senior Objects Conservator removing the original Morey grave marker from
West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.

Conservator examining wooden grave markerJustin Gare examining Morey grave marker.

Detail of template for letteringDetail of lettering template.

Conservator carving lettering on grave markerJustin Gare carving the lettering on red gum marker.

Detail of carved letteringDetail of carved lettering.

Conservators installing new grave markerAbby Maxwell-Bowen and Justin Gare installing the new red gum grave marker at West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.

Conservators installing new grave marker