Art conservator Eric Archer is working on a project to unframe, photograph, document and prepare 18 watercolour paintings for new museum-standard mounts and frames.
The paintings, from the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct art collection, were identified as requiring conservation treatment following two assessments of the precinct’s cultural assets undertaken in 2017 and 2018. These projects were funded through three successful grant applications by Finke River Mission (FRM) to the National Library of Australia’s Community Heritage Grants scheme. The 2017 Significance Assessment written by Alison French and Nicholas Hall described the collection as being
of national significance and responsibility, both on its own terms as a collection of artworks of national significance and as part of the cultural heritage components that make up the National Heritage Listed Place.
A temporary conservation studio has been set up at FRM in Alice Springs, where Eric is working on the collection. The process has revealed hidden information about the paintings (such as dates and locations), which is of great interest to curators and art historians and adds to the significance of the collection. The old framers’ labels have also been preserved, as they contain important information relating to the history and provenance of the paintings.