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A multisciplinary approach to the study and conservation of the contemporary Sarah Lucas’ papier-maché sculpture Love Me

Fabiola Rocco

Abstracts

The thesis project concerned the interdisciplinary study and the conservation treatment of Sarah Lucas’ papier-mâché sculpture Love Me, owned by the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation (Turin). The sculpture suffered mainly from structural damages caused by external factors such as several transports, ingrained surface dirt and previous conservation treatments made with inappropriate materials. The dialogue with the artist was necessary and helpful to understand the artist’s intention and the meaning of the oeuvre, in order to perform a conscious conservation treatment.

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The author would like to thank the Professors who supported her work on the papier-mâché sculpture Love Me, in particular Sandra Vazquez Perez, Oscar Chiantore, Tommaso Poli and Francesca Comisso. She also want to express her sincere gratitude to Professor Antonio Mirabile for his constant support, Dott.ssa Benedetta Bodo di Albaretto and Dott.ssa Valeria Arena for providing relevant information and the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Fundation for the opportunity to carry out this project.

Introduction

1Sarah Lucas is a British artist born in London in 1962 and she is currently considered one of the most important members of the Young British Art movement (YBA). The main aim of the YBAs was to investigate people’s fears and obsessions about sex, food, violence, celebrity and new drugs, using different and unusual materials and approaches (Stallabrass 1999; Prinzhorn 2005).

2Love Me is a multi-material assembly of wire, kapok, stockings, papier-mâché and varnish. Lucas realized the artwork in 1998 and in the same year it was bought by the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation (Turin), one of the most important art collections in Italy. As part of a well-known collection, Love Me has been widely displayed in several exhibitions in Italy and abroad. The constant careless handling during the expositions, combined with the low-impact strength of the original materials, caused several physical damages. Moreover, the sculpture has been subjected to different previous conservation treatments, sometimes made with inappropriate materials, which prevented a complete enjoyment of it.

  • 1 The interview was done with the help of Benedetta Bodo di Albaretto and the transcription is consul (...)

3In 2016 the oeuvre was transferred to the CCR “La Venaria Reale” for conservation. The main goal of this work was the artwork restoration based on an interdisciplinary and profound comprehension of the chemical-physical, structural and mechanical characteristics of the various Love Me’s constituent materials. During the preliminary study, an historical-artistic research was made and the artist was directly interviewed1, providing crucial and fundamental information about both the original materials and the manufacturing process. Additionally, the discussion with the artist, combined with the analytical investigations, guided to the decision-making process regarding the most appropriate conservation treatment.

Love Me

4Love Me is a sculpture representing the lower part of a woman’s body, sitting on a chair with wide open legs (ill.1).

Fig.1 Love Me

Fig.1 Love Me

Front of the sculpture before treatment.

Photographic credits: Centro Conservazione e Restauro “La Venaria Reale”, 2016.

5Documentation on the sculpture’s life was exiguous, but nevertheless, researches into Lucas’ art canon and the information provided by the artist herself, revealed that the artwork is closely related to the Bunny series. Sarah Lucas started to realise her Bunnies in 1997 using stockings stuffed with wire and kapok, a natural cellulose fibre, and clamped to chairs in order to represent disembodied female legs (Collings 2005). In 1998 Lucas made Love Me, a sculpture with the same Bunnies’ shape and inner materials, but completely covered with mosaic-like collages of small cut-out images, showing repeated female body parts such as mouths (on the right half) and eyes (on the left half). Love Me was created by using chicken wire as internal armature placed inside woman nylon tights and then stuffed with kapok. Subsequently the sculpture was overlaid with tabloids pieces glued together with wallpaper paste and finally the overall sculpture was covered with acrylic industrial varnish. Furthermore, the artwork gave rise to two later works: Hysterical Attack (Mouth) and Hysterical Attack (Eye). The artworks, realized in 1999 for the solo show Beyond The Pleasure Principle (Freud Museum, London), were created following the same manufacturing technique of Love Me but, on the other hand, they were covered with a collage reproducing only mouths (Hysterical Attack (Mouth)) and only eyes (Hysterical Attack (Eye)).

  • 2 Information provided by the artist herself during the interview.
  • 3 Information provided by the artist herself during the interview.

6The three sculptures express a strong symbolic interaction between the different pictures shown in the collage and the legs’ position, suggesting the idea of sexual submission and exertion. Moreover, Sarah Lucas focuses indeed on the interchangeability between “mouths and sexual orifices, the gaze and the sexual act”2 in a celebration of erotic symbolism. In this way, the three artworks express a deeper psychoanalytical conception of the female body compared to the Bunny sculptures, because “[they are] caught between physicality and symbolism”3.

7The three sculptures represent a unica into Lucas’s artistic production, after realizing Love Me and the two Hysterical Attack the artist abandoned the papier-mâché covered sculpture to steer her interest into other materials.

State of conservation

8Love Me was in a mediocre state of preservation. The main causes of degradation might be attributed to the original materials fragility, improper conservation conditions and inadequate handling during several transports, all together causes of structural damages, surface dirt and newspaper inks discoloration.

9One of the main damages was located on the left knee internal side showing a 5 cm tear in length running horizontally through the papier-mâché layers (ill.2).

Fig.2 Before treatment, structural damage

Fig.2 Before treatment, structural damage

Tear on the internal side of the left knee.

Photographic credits: Centro Conservazione e Restauro “La Venaria Reale”, 2016

10On the upper side ran another split, following vertically the artwork’s chest curve, affecting only the last papier-mâché layer. In this case the tear edges were partially overlapped. A large dent, engendered by an external impact was located on the right leg. The accidental strike caused the area deformation forcing the collage backwards, obscuring the images. Moreover, nearby the dent, some cut-out fragments were partially lifted and lacerated (ill.3). On the lower and not directly visible sculpture’s part, where the acrylic coating was thinner, numerous partially detached fragments were localized.

Fig.3 Before treatment, mechanical damage

Fig.3 Before treatment, mechanical damage

Dent caused by a mechanical impact and lifted fragments.

Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2016.

11The overall sculpture’s surface was covered by dust and incoherent particles cumulated over years of storage. The dirt was both loose and ingrained into the coated layer and it was more notable on the horizontal parts of the sculpture and on the wooden chair.

12Furthermore, both the paper degradation and the ink fading were noted. Tabloids’ paper is made from chemical wood pulp which contains a large amount of ligneous material therefore tabloids’ paper is a poor material which degrades quickly (Banik 2003). Auto-oxidation of the cellulose chains forms ketonic chromophore groups which can promote further degradation (Copedé 2003). Furthermore newsprint inks are subjected to catalytic fading which could cause more lightfastness too (Jürgens 2009).

13During the preliminary observation of the sculpture, six previous conservation treatments were identified. The documentation provided by the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation revealed that the last conservation treatment was made in 2010. The intervention interested two tears located respectively on the left knee external side and the left foot nearby area, while no documentation was collected about other previous interventions.

14The two tears had been restored using rather both invasive products and techniques. The former split was consolidated using a large amount of adhesive covering the surrounding areas too. Moreover the adhesive solidified becoming very rigid and yellowing, withholding the correct legibility of the work (ill.4). The second split had been restored without bringing together the edges but simply covering the split with a resin (ill.5).

Fig. 4. Previous conservation treatment

Fig. 4. Previous conservation treatment

Extension of the adhesive used during the previous conservation treatment.

Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2016.

Fig. 5. Previous conservation treatment

Fig. 5. Previous conservation treatment

From the left to the right: front of the tear and side view.

Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2016.

Materials and technique of Love Me

15In order to understand the constituent materials and provide useful information for the conservation treatment planning, Love Me was examined with different non-invasive and invasive analytical techniques. First of all, the sculpture was photographically documented in visible, diffuse and raking light, using a Nikon D810 camera.

  • 4 Information provided by the artist herself during the interview.

16X-Ray radiography allowed the internal structure examination of the sculpture revealing the internal armature localization, shape and size. Especially it showed that the sculpture was built with iron wire enclosed into another material subsequently identified as newspaper4 (ill.6). The UV surface examination revealed the typical synthetic varnish blueish florescence. Different fluorescence absorptions were noticed; the front and visible parts of the sculpture exhibited a darker and stronger fluorescence corresponding to thicker areas of the coating, while areas located on the rear side showed minimal fluorescence. Few coating microsamples were taken and analyzed with FT-IR and Py-GC/MS in the scientific laboratories of the CCR. FT-IR analysis identified the presence of an acrylic resin, while Py-GC/MS recognized the specific peaks of n-butyl acrylate and methyl methacrylate monomers. Moreover the pH and the conductivity of the acrylic coating were measured. Conductivity was obtained placing a 3% stiff agarose gel onto the surface for one minute and then measuring the plug with a portable conductivity meter. pH measurements were done by pipetting one drop of deionised water onto the surface and measuring it with a portable pH meter. The results showed that the conductivity was quite high (0.15 mS), perhaps due to the migration of surfactants through the surface, and the coating pH was neutral (7.0-7.2).

17FT-IR analysis was also undertaken on samples from the previous restoration treatments and on a newspaper sample taken from a hidden area of the sculpture. The results revealed that the tear, located on the external side of the left knee, was consolidated using epoxy resin while the second split was covered with acrylic resin. Concerning the newspaper sample, the analysis was done in order to discriminate the adhesive composition used by the artist. The result showed the presence of methylcellulose, likely constituent of a wallpaper adhesive paste.

Fig.6 X-Ray analysis

Fig.6 X-Ray analysis

Side on view.

Photographic credits: Centro Conservazione e Restauro “La Venaria Reale”, 2016.

Conservation treatment

18Establishing a decision-making process to preserve contemporary artworks always represents a compromise between different kind of considerations which could sometimes conflict between each other. Regarding ‘traditional’ art, “material and technique serve the meaning” (Asseldonk et al. 1999) while, in ‘contemporary’ art, the relationship between these two elements is usually ambiguous because materials can also carry their own meaning. As a consequence of this, a change in the material characteristics can alter the purpose of the artwork, causing a discrepancy between the physical condition and the meaning. Discussion concerning ethics in contemporary art restoration requires also to take into account aesthetic and artistic factors before choosing a preservation strategy. In particular, the importance of the perceptible appearance and the meaning carried by the used materials must be considered (Asseldonk et al. 1999).

19Regarding the study case presented in this paper, it was felt that a preventive conservation strategy would not guarantee the safety of the artwork, because it would not prevent adequately the sculpture from further damages. Moreover, as the main damages had been caused by external and accidental factors, it was felt that these areas really had to be tackled in order to safeguard and unify the artwork. Additionally, concerning the importance ascribed by the artist to the female body parts show in the tabloids and the deviation that a complete fading of them will have on the meaning of the work, it was felt that a more intervetive approach could be taken into account.

20The conservation treatment was developed and realized after a series of specific tests which permitted to choose the most suitable material for each operation.

21Before any treatment, the composition and solubility of newspaper inks was review. As already defined “printing inks consist of dispersion of insoluble colorants or solutions of dyes in a varnish or vehicles so that the resulting combination forms a fluid which will distribute and transfer on the printing press” (Leach et al. 2007). Since the end of the last century, the printing industry has been dominated by the use of cold-set inks which ‘dried’ by penetration into the paper (Leach et al. 2007). Newspaper inks are composed by: pigments, resin vehicles (phenolic, aliphatic, alkyd), hydrocarbon solvents, oils (mineral oils, linseed oil, soy oil) and additives (Leach et al. 2007).

  • 5 Cyclomethicone D5: completely non polar solvent, Hildebrand solubility parameter ẟ 11.9.
  • 6 Diethyl carbonate: aliphatic hydrocarbon, Fd 61.

22Due of the vast range of components, inks are soluble in most of the widely used conservation solvents. After a former selection, six solvents were selected for the experimentation: cyclomethicone D55, isooctane, diethyl carbonate6, acetone, ethanol and demineralise water. The tests were performed pipetting one drop of each solvent on a monochromatic sample of the most commonly used newspapers inks: yellow, red, green, blue and black. The experimentation results showed that newspaper inks were completely not soluble in diethyl carbonate and demineralise water. Yellow and red inks were slightly soluble in ethanol, the former, and acetone the second, while yellow ink was widely soluble in cyclomethicone D5 and isooctane. In conclusion diethyl carbonate and demineralise water were considered the safest solvents to use on the artwork, followed by ethanol and acetone.

  • 7 Evolon® CR: non-woven micro filament textile. Provided by Deffner&Johann.

23The loose dirt surface on the wooden chair was removed with sable brush while the ingrained dirt surface on the cotton seat of the chair was ablated using medical vacuum cleaner and tweezers. Considerations for the dry surface cleaning, to remove loose and ingrained dirt surface on the papier-mâché sculpture, included two styrene-butadiene rubber makeup sponges, Kryolan® and Muji®, an high density latex free polyurethane ether-based sponge, Evolon® CR7 cloth and a soft brush. The use of erasers which were proved to be useful dry cleaning materials by other author (Nijhoff Asser et al. 2008) was also considered. However, it was rejected due to the potentially harmful chemical residues and the possibility of polishing the acrylic coating (Daudin-Schotte et al. 2013).

24After several trials, was decided to remove the loose dirt with the Evolon® CR cloth. While the ingrained dirt was removed with the high density latex free polyurethane ether-based sponge. The sponge was chosen because it was proved to be the more efficient and safe material to remove ingrained dirt without cause abrasion, flattering or polishing the coating topography. To minimize the chance of leaving organic residues on the surface (Daudin-Schotte et al. 2013), all the sponges were rinsed with demineralise water and pressed in between sheet of acid free paper before using. Few fatty stains that were un-successfully removed by dry cleaning, were treated with a wet method. Following a procedure suggested by Wolbers (Wolbers et al. 2013) and considering the results obtained by the pH and conductivity measurements, demineralise water buffered at the pH of 5.5 and adjusted to 6 mS using a 1M NaCl solution was employed with success.

  • 8 The wheat starch glue was prepared with the ratio 1:4 starch to demineralise water. The compound wa (...)
  • 9 Eva Art®: non-plasticized ethylene –vinyl acetate copolymer and 5% w/v Klucel G® in water, 1:1.
  • 10 Industrial wallpaper paste Methylan® composed only by cellulose ethers. Provided by Herkel® s.r.l.
  • 11 Plextol D498®: aqueous emulsion of a thermoplastic acrylic polymer based on normal-Butylacrylate an (...)

25After the surface cleaning, several tests were undertaken in order to choose the most suitable adhesive for the tears. Paper conservation literature and relevant case studies were reviewed, and four cellulose ether adhesive were selected lastly: wheat starch glue8 (5 g of wheat starch glue diluted with 1.5 and 2 ml of water), 10% w/v Klucel G® in water, 5% w/v Culminal MC 200S® in water and a mix of Eva Art® and Klucel G®9. Adhesives are expected to be strong enough to hold the bonds together without damaging the original material and the adhesive joint should be flexible and fail before a new tear occurs on the object. Mock-ups were prepared lining several layers of cut-out images of colourful tabloids with wallpaper paste10 and coating them with water-based acrylic varnish11. The samples were manually ripped and the tears jointed with the selected adhesives. All the samples were subjected to mechanical and flexibility trials and the results were compared to the performance of unbroken mock-ups. The mix of Eva Art® and Klucel G® formed the strongest bond but, in the end, it was decided to use the wheat starch glue diluted with 2 ml of water because more easily reversible.

  • 12 Bondina®: non-woven, chemically inert, 100% polyester material.

26The ridged edges of the vertical tear were easily manipulated back into place using a tiny spatula and a dental probe. It was considered that an insert underneath this area was not necessary therefore the tear edges were joined together only applying the wheat starch adhesive along the two tear edges. A layer of Bondina12 was positioned over the repaired area and then weighted for controlled drying. The treatment was successful and the tear was completely repaired.

27Before restoring the tear, located on the left knee internal side, it was necessary to reduce the epoxy plaster thickness present on the opposite side in order to make the area more flexible and attenuate the visual interference caused by the plaster extension. The operation was undertaken using a micro drill whit dental tungsten bur. Due to the location and the split dimension it was not possible completely insert a Japanese paper sheet under the two edges, and, on the other hand, covering the tear with very thin Japanese paper would not have guarantee a durable conservation treatment. In conclusion it was decided to insert a Japanese kozo paper sheet (Paper Nao RK 00, 3,6 g/m2 ) under the split upper edge and to adhere the remaining part directly on the coating. The upper site of the sheet was pasted with wheat starch, positioned and adhered under the tear upper edge helping with a tiny metal spatula and a self-made wooden tool. Afterward a small lower part section of the insert was adhered on the sculpture surface and the split was gently manipulated by hand, pressing a blotting paper on the surface in order to absorb the adhesive excess.

28Finally a soft weight, maintained in position using a cotton strip attached to an external structure, provided a light and even pressure (ill.7).

Fig.7 Conservation treatment on the tear located on the internal side of the left knee

Fig.7 Conservation treatment on the tear located on the internal side of the left knee

From left to right: thinning of the epoxy plaster, adhesion of the upper part of the Japanese insert under the upper edge, adhesion of the lower part of the Japanese insert on the coating, positioning of the soft weight.

Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.

29The area was maintained under pressure for 24 hours and then the joint was further reinforced applying single fibres of Japanese kozo paper RK 00 saturated with wheat starch glue and pressed into position using fine-pointed tweezers. The adhesion, combined with the reinforcement provided by the kozo Japanese fibres, gave perfect a result and the tear was successfully restored (ill.8).

Fig.8 After treatment

Fig.8 After treatment

Showing the adhesion of the two edges of the tear.

Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.

  • 13 7%w/v of ethyl cellulose in diethyl carbonate.
  • 14 It was used a cold stream of vapor maintaining at a constant distance of 20 cm from the artwork.

30For what concerns the tear restoration located nearby the left foot, it was necessary to completely remove the acrylic adhesive before re-joining the tear edges in their correct position. The acrylic adhesive was removed outside and inside the tear using a thicken solution of diethyl carbonate and ethyl cellulose13 previously tested. Based on literature information (Fairclough and Harrison 2007; Dessennes 2011), it was decided to humidify the area to softening the papier-mâché and enabling it to be manipulated delicately back into shape. Localized humidity was applied using an ultrasonic humidifier14 protecting the upper site of the leg with a layer of Bondina® and a layer of Melinex®. The tear was repaired by inserting a stiff Japanese kozo paper (Paper Nao RK 19, 32 g/m2 ) pasted with wheat starch glue underneath the papier-mâché layer. A sheet of Bondina® was positioned over the repaired area to absorb the excess of adhesive. The upper and lower edges of the tear were brought together using four ‘sling’ of cotton tissue attached to an Ethafoam® structure modelled with the same shape of the leg (ill.9).

Fig.9 Conservation treatment on the tear located nearby the left foot

Fig.9 Conservation treatment on the tear located nearby the left foot

From left to right: during the removal of the acryl resin, humidification with ultrasonic humidifier, insert of Japanese kozo paper, re-joining of the edges of the tear.

Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.

  • 15 Evacon® R: non-plasticized ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer.

31A suitable material was required to reconstruct a small lacuna of papier-mâché. The use of collaged plaster layer of Japanese paper or paper pulp was described by several authors (Leyshon 1988; Dessennes 2011) in the conservation of globes. Similar to the use of pulp is the cellulose paste described by Nijhoff Asser made with pure cellulose fibre, Evacon®15 and 5% w/v Klucel G® in ethanol used in the conservation of papier-mâché anatomical models (Nijhoff Asser et al. 2008). This paste can also be coloured using mineral pigments. Furthermore the pulp, made with methylcellulose and alpha cellulose fibers used in the conservation treatment of a papier-mâché ‘Apple’ (Crann 2010), was proven to be a very useful and readily reversible material. In this case, the author coloured the cellulose infill with acrylic colours.

  • 16 Sumira, S (2007); Leyshon, K (1988).

32After several tests it was decided to use a mix of Arbocel BW400® and wheat starch glue. This technique was preferred as the stucco was flexible, malleable and easily retouchable. The infill retouching was considered necessary to unify the object appearance. Different retouching methods were taken into consideration. Toning the infill with a neutral toning was one options, however it was considered unsuitable for a contemporary artwork because the neutral retouch would excessively stand out. Italian differentiated retouching (rigatino) was also rejected because of the very small area of loss while the use of photocopies to reproduce the missing pattern, which is a widely used approach in the conservation of globes16, was considered too much arbitrary. In conclusion it was decided to retouch the infill using a mimetic retouching technique. The operation was done with artist’s quality watercolour and the perfect tone was obtained with Gamblin Conservation Color (ill.10). The retouch improved the readability of the area and was felt to be the appropriate action for the artwork.

Fig.10 Conservation treatment on the tear located nearby the left foot

Fig.10 Conservation treatment on the tear located nearby the left foot

From left to right: infill and retouching

Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.

33The traditional restoration of globes literature provides treatment options for repairing structural damages such dents or extended losses of material. For easing out a dent moisture could be applied from within or outside the calotte, the cover paper could be split out and the dent filled with a putty of papier-mâché, chalk, zinc and parchment size. Otherwise it could be possible cutting out the surrounding areas and putting out the dent (Van der Reyden 1988). Nevertheless these approaches were considered too invasive hence it was decided to realise an external traction structure in order to recover the dent.

34After a review of medical legs lengthening surgery, a steel instrument, consisting of two movable rings sliding through four rods, two stable rings and bolts, was built. Moreover it was constructed an external arm which allowed to adjust the instrument height and inclination.

  • 17 Non-woven, chemically inert, 70% polypropylene : 30% cellulose pulp material. Provided by Bresciani (...)

35The upper and lower surrounding dent areas were protected with thin sheets of Japanese paper (Paper Nao RK 15, 10 g/m2 ) lined with the wheat starch adhesive, over these sheets forty polypropylene-cellulose pulp17 tie-rods (half on the upper sheet and the other half on the lower) were applied, with the same adhesive. The tie-rods rings were then covered with another layer of Japanese paper to secure the adhesion.

36The artwork’s leg was positioned inside the traction system and each tie-rods were attached with bulldog clips to the movable rings (ill.11). The two rings were slowly distanced and, thank to this procedure, the dent was almost completely recovered.

Fig.11 Conservation treatment on the dent

Fig.11 Conservation treatment on the dent

From left to right, and down: application of the sheet of Japanese paper, adhesion of the tie-rods, positioning of the artwork inside the traction system.

Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.

37Subsequently the area was inlayed with Japanese paper (Paper Nao RK 00, 3,6 g/m2 ) pasted with 5% w/v methylcellulose in water. The kozo Japanese paper was chosen because it was proven to be completely invisible after dry. The operation was done in order to reinforce the site and prevent the reformation of the damage.

38The artwork remained under traction for three days until the adhesive was completely dry, then the traction force was daily diminished until it was possible to remove the traction system and the tie-rods (ill.12).

Fig.12 Conservation treatment on the dent

Fig.12 Conservation treatment on the dent

From left to right: before and after the conservation treatment.

Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.

39In agreement with the artist and the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Fundation it was decided to re-varnish the sculpture with a new varnish, adding a UV light stabilizer (Tinuvin 292®). The main purpose of the new varnish was to slighting the constant paper and inks discoloration in order to extend the artwork longevity as well as saving the artist’s meaning, without modify the visual original coating appearance. The historical varnishes used in the conservation of globes were shellac and natural resins (Bayes-Cope 1985) while, in recent years, these resins have been substituted with ketonic, aliphatic and acrylic resins (Van der Reyden 1988; Capriotti 2000). All these varnishes have been considered unsuitable because they changed the gloss of the coating. After several trials a solution of 5% w/v Paraloid B82® in ethanol was chosen. The varnish was sprayed on with an airbrush at the pressure of 1.8bar from a distance of about 20 cm.

Conclusion

40The complex choices on how to preserve Sarah Lucas’ sculpture Love Me lied not only in the degradation damages, but also on the artwork perception as well as the meaning of the used materials. A multi-analytical approach, based on spectroscopic techniques and X-ray radiography, gave a good insight into the material composition and the sculpture construction. Moreover, the profitable dialogue with the artist and the discussion with colleagues helped to develop the decision-making process for the sculpture conservation and restoration. By restoring the tears and recovering the dent, the artwork stability was improved, negating the risks of further damages and enabling the sculpture to be exhibited again. The decision of applying a new coating adding an UV light stabilizer inhibited the constant newspaper inks discoloration and can extend the artwork longevity, while removing the previous treatments, the aesthetic function of the artwork was re-established.

41The author felt that the conservation outcome was successful and the sculpture was stabilized and aesthetically improved. The extensive research, experimentation and the collaboration with the artist and professionals permitted to develop a methodology for the conservation-restoration of dent on three dimensional sculptures with positive results.

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Notes

1 The interview was done with the help of Benedetta Bodo di Albaretto and the transcription is consultable in the specific section of Project Marta: Monitoring Art Archive. www.projectmarta.com.

2 Information provided by the artist herself during the interview.

3 Information provided by the artist herself during the interview.

4 Information provided by the artist herself during the interview.

5 Cyclomethicone D5: completely non polar solvent, Hildebrand solubility parameter ẟ 11.9.

6 Diethyl carbonate: aliphatic hydrocarbon, Fd 61.

7 Evolon® CR: non-woven micro filament textile. Provided by Deffner&Johann.

8 The wheat starch glue was prepared with the ratio 1:4 starch to demineralise water. The compound was cooked, under constant agitation, for almost one hour and half at the temperature of 85°.

9 Eva Art®: non-plasticized ethylene –vinyl acetate copolymer and 5% w/v Klucel G® in water, 1:1.

10 Industrial wallpaper paste Methylan® composed only by cellulose ethers. Provided by Herkel® s.r.l.

11 Plextol D498®: aqueous emulsion of a thermoplastic acrylic polymer based on normal-Butylacrylate and Metylmethacrylate. Provided by Kremer Pigments®.

12 Bondina®: non-woven, chemically inert, 100% polyester material.

13 7%w/v of ethyl cellulose in diethyl carbonate.

14 It was used a cold stream of vapor maintaining at a constant distance of 20 cm from the artwork.

15 Evacon® R: non-plasticized ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymer.

16 Sumira, S (2007); Leyshon, K (1988).

17 Non-woven, chemically inert, 70% polypropylene : 30% cellulose pulp material. Provided by Bresciani s.r.l.

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List of illustrations

Title Fig.1 Love Me
Caption Front of the sculpture before treatment.
Credits Photographic credits: Centro Conservazione e Restauro “La Venaria Reale”, 2016.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.7M
Title Fig.2 Before treatment, structural damage
Caption Tear on the internal side of the left knee.
Credits Photographic credits: Centro Conservazione e Restauro “La Venaria Reale”, 2016
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 212k
Title Fig.3 Before treatment, mechanical damage
Caption Dent caused by a mechanical impact and lifted fragments.
Credits Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2016.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.3M
Title Fig. 4. Previous conservation treatment
Caption Extension of the adhesive used during the previous conservation treatment.
Credits Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2016.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-4.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.6M
Title Fig. 5. Previous conservation treatment
Caption From the left to the right: front of the tear and side view.
Credits Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2016.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-5.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.1M
Title Fig.6 X-Ray analysis
Caption Side on view.
Credits Photographic credits: Centro Conservazione e Restauro “La Venaria Reale”, 2016.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-6.jpg
File image/jpeg, 696k
Title Fig.7 Conservation treatment on the tear located on the internal side of the left knee
Caption From left to right: thinning of the epoxy plaster, adhesion of the upper part of the Japanese insert under the upper edge, adhesion of the lower part of the Japanese insert on the coating, positioning of the soft weight.
Credits Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-7.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.8M
Title Fig.8 After treatment
Caption Showing the adhesion of the two edges of the tear.
Credits Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-8.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.5M
Title Fig.9 Conservation treatment on the tear located nearby the left foot
Caption From left to right: during the removal of the acryl resin, humidification with ultrasonic humidifier, insert of Japanese kozo paper, re-joining of the edges of the tear.
Credits Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-9.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.5M
Title Fig.10 Conservation treatment on the tear located nearby the left foot
Caption From left to right: infill and retouching
Credits Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-10.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.2M
Title Fig.11 Conservation treatment on the dent
Caption From left to right, and down: application of the sheet of Japanese paper, adhesion of the tie-rods, positioning of the artwork inside the traction system.
Credits Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-11.jpg
File image/jpeg, 2.3M
Title Fig.12 Conservation treatment on the dent
Caption From left to right: before and after the conservation treatment.
Credits Photographic credits: Fabiola Rocco, 2017.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5248/img-12.jpg
File image/jpeg, 1.4M
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References

Electronic reference

Fabiola Rocco, « A multisciplinary approach to the study and conservation of the contemporary Sarah Lucas’ papier-maché sculpture Love Me  », CeROArt [Online], EGG 6 | 2017, Online since 24 March 2018, connection on 14 December 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/5248

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About the author

Fabiola Rocco

Fabiola Rocco graduated cum laude and honor in Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the University of Turin (Italy), with the degree course based at the Conservation Restoration Center (CCR) “La Venaria Reale”. She is specialized in conservation of canvas and wooden paintings, furniture and polychrome wooden sculptures. Moreover, she is deepening her knowledge in restoration of modern and contemporary artworks, her great passion. She is currently attending an internship at the Academy of Fine Arts of Vienna at the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Modern and Contemporary Arts.

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Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
CeROArt – Conservation, exposition, restauration d'objets d'arts est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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