Artlab conservators prepare artworks for upcoming exhibitions at the Art Gallery of South Australia working with the curators and gallery’s installation team.
Samurai is a stunning exhibition of over one hundred works from the Art Gallery’s Japanese collection, dating from the thirteenth to ninetieth centuries. Textiles and Objects conservators were involved in the preparation and installation of some of the items.
One of the pieces, Summer Robe, features exquisite embroidery on the back of the kimono. The curator requested the decoration be visible to the viewer instead of the traditional display, showing the front of the garment. The conservators positioned the kimono onto a fabric-covered roller and placed it onto a wooden stand, and to reinforce the robe and exhibit the back of the garment, built an aluminum frame and placed the form inside the robe.
Before installation of Samurai, dated 1699, the conservators repaired fragile silk components in the suit, and designed and built a bespoke armature and mounting system to display and support the full armour. Components of the warrior suit were prepared and packed in customised archival boxes made at Artlab, so Samurai could be transported to the exhibition space at the gallery and for future storage.
The team of conservators worked alongside the curator and installation team and installed kimonos, the cuirass and Samurai armour before the opening on 24 July 2020. The exhibition closing date is 23 March 2021.
Aquila Evill, Senior Paper Conservator preparing Dragon and Tiger, 1850, Japan. One of a pair of six-panel screens, colour, ink, silver alloy on paper, 175.0 x 420.0 cm (each), Gift of Andrew and Hiroko Gwinnett through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2005, 20053A10; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; photos: Artlab Australia.
Rusty Kelty, Associate Curator Asian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia and curator of Samurai exhibition, Mary-Anne Gooden, Textiles Conservator and Jo Dawe, Objects Conservator, installing Cuirasse with the character for ‘loyalty’ (chū), 16th- 17th century, Japan, steel, gilded leather, brass, silk, lacquered wood, gold, collection of Raphy Star, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, photos: Artlab Australia.
Sophie Parker, Objects Conservator and Mary-Anne Gooden, Textiles Conservator preparing and installing Summer robe (katabira), with hollyhock, chrysanthemum and ‘rising steam’ motifs, c.1780, Edo (Tokyo), Japan, plain weave ramie, ink painting, stencil imitation tie-dyeing, embroidery in silk, gold wrapped thread, 150.0 x 127.0 cm; Gift of Joan Beer in memory of her husband Colin through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation Collectors Club 2019, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, photos: Artlab Australia.
Mary-Anne Gooden, Textiles Conservator, Kristin Phillips, Principal Conservator Textiles and Justin Gare, Senior Objects Conservator installing Samurai featuring Samurai armour, with breastplate depicting Fudō-myōō and inscribed 'A Fortuitous Day, the 8th month of the 12th year of Genroku (1699), Myochin Munesuke' by Myôchin Munesuke, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; photos: Artlab Australia.