Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Two conservation positions available at the The Mariners' Museum

Two conservation positions available at the The Mariners' Museum

"The Conservator works directly for the Director, USS Monitor Center in the conservation and maintenance of USS Monitor artifacts, with a primary focus on organic artifacts.This individual works closely with the conservation staff and other Museum staff to conserve artifacts and prepare them for exhibition."

Details: http://marinersmuseum.org/visitor-information/job-descriptions

Friday, 27 July 2012

Two conservation positions available at the British Museum

Two conservation positions available at the British Museum:
Conservator: Organics
Conservation and Scientific Research
The British Museum

Full Time Permanent Contract
Fixed Term Contract; 12 months in duration

See details here: http://www.britishmuseum.org/jobs


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Conservators occupy 'London Occupation Rio' video

Renata Peters and Rachel Farmer (UCL MSc in Conservation student) feature in a video made for ‘London Occupation Rio’, London's occupation by 30 artists from Rio de Janeiro working with UK collaborators in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The video, produced realistically but contextualized in the future, is part of Bruno Vianna’s installation with objects and photographs in which the public will see the results of a ‘future excavation’ during the London Olympics 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016.  The installation mixes fiction and reality to question values connected to authenticity, uniqueness and cultural hierarchies. Using irony, it will invite people to look differently at their relationships with the past of Rio and London.

The ‘Occupation’ comes to a conclusion with a three day indoor festival in the V22 Summer Club at the Biscuit Factory where Vianna’s installation will be displayed along with the work created by the other 29 artists.

Rio Occupation: Festival Finale 
01, 02 & 03 August  2012
V22 Summer Club at the Biscuit Factor
1st August: 15.00-23.00

2nd August: 15.00-02.00

3rd August: 15.00-23.00
F Block, The Biscuit Factory
Corner of Clements and Webster Rd
Bermondsey, London, SE16 4DG

All tickets are FREE but must be booked online here:
More about Bruno Vianna’s work here and here

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Rain rain go away, come again another day!

Image 1: Graduation Day at Bishop
Grosseteste University College
Lincoln: Let's hope nobody saw
it as a bad omen!

Image 2: Humidity strip lying on my
desk in the finds room. 
Apart from making Graduation Day at Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln look like a rather miserable event (see image 1) the bad weather this summer is wreaking havoc upon our archaeological finds! The constant downpour has made the relative humidity skyrocket (see image 2) and makes it incredibly difficult (if not impossible) for our wet finds to dry out naturally. 

Now I’m not that concerned (well not more than I normally am) about the metal artefacts as they’re stored in sealed containers with bags of silica gel, but I’m starting to get very worried about our ceramics and bones. 

       In the past we would put the wet ceramics, after it had been washed, on dry sheets of newspaper to dry out naturally. When they were considered dry enough they were then put in reclosable polyethylene bags and stored in the archives. In the past this seemed to have worked well enough. However, last year Zoe Tomlinson, our finds supervisor, found a few sealed bags with ceramics from the previous year that had gone mouldy because they had been stored too wet.
Image 3: Finds drying out in the
scanner room. 

       As a consequence of this accident, as well as the problems we currently have with the humidity, we are now frantically trying to figure out new ways to dry out the finds so that when they’re sent to the archives they’re dry enough to prevent the formation of mould. One of the  first experiments we tried was simply to put the ceramics in a tray in the oven at 30 °C for a couple of hours to see if the heat would dry the ceramics out. It didn’t really work out that well. As soon as we took the ceramics out of the oven, put them in bags, and transported them back to the finds room, where the ceramics started to cool off, condensation appeared on the inside of the bags. 
Image 4: Humidity strip
inside the scanner room.
       The next experiment we then tried was to store finds trays with cleaned wet finds for a day or two in the Bischop Grosseteste’s Scanner Room (image 3 and 4) . As this room is rather small and not used at the moment, we thought that it might be relatively easy to create a dryer environment in it. We installed a small space heater inside the room, opened a window, stuck a humidity strip unto the shelves and waited for the humidity to drop. As you can see when you compare image 4 to image 2, the humidity in image 4 is quite a bit lower. We were rather optimistic about this approach, but once again, it failed to work. After we bagged the ceramics up in order to take them to the finds room it didn’t take very long (an hour or so) before condensation appeared on the inside of the bags.

Image 5: Two finds bags filled with
ceramics lying on my desk in the finds
room. The left bag contains the sachet
with silica gel. 
Image 6: The result of the failed silica
gel test. The humidity inside the bag
is in fact slightly higher than the
humidity inside the room. 
So it was back to the oven. However, instead of removing the ceramics from the oven after turning the oven off, we decided to leave the ceramics overnight in the (turned off) oven, so they could cool off before bagging them up. I then put a humidity strip in one bag with ceramics so I could see what the humidity inside it was, and placed a bag of silica gel with a humidity strip in the other (see image 5). The idea was that the silica gel would dry out the ceramics inside the bag. Of course, as you can see on image 6, it didn’t work. In fact, it actually looked like the relative humidity inside the bag with the silica gel was higher than it was inside the finds room…

       Now, I’m not entirely sure whether this is because the bags aren’t airtight and the silica gel is sucking up moisture from the room, or whether the silica gel is sucking up the water from the ceramics and that this is the reason why the humidity in the bag is higher than inside the finds room.

However, it proves that I still haven’t found the solution to our problem!  If anyone has any advice that they’re willing to share with me on how I might be able to solve our problem, I’d be very grateful! 


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Sacrilege: Jeremy Deller's bouncy Stone Henge

Jeremy Deller's life-sized inflatable replica of Stonehenge for people to bounce on is set to begin a tour of 25 locations across the UK as part of London 2012 Festival.

I quite like the name he gave to the piece, it would indeed be a sacrilege! Good news, now you can do it! 

Read about it on the Guardian

See this amazing BBC video 

See more about the Festival here 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

14th July: Archaeology Day

Trying to make the most of the little
money we got this year, Craig Spence
decided to re-use last year's poster.
This Saturday the 14th of July 2012 the Archaeology Field School from Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln will host an Archaeology Day to introduce this year's archaeological site to the public.

During the previous years this event always turned into a great spectacle, mainly due to the involvement of enthusiastic volunteers. The Archaeology Day usually featured historical reenactments (with gladiators, Romans and Medieval merchants), workshops (recognizing bones, creating mosaics, Roman cooking), a tour around the archaeological site, as well as an introduction to the finds that have been found on site.
Everyone with an interest in archaeology is most welcome at
Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln Campus.

This year however, due to budget cuts imposed by the college, most events had to be scrapped leaving only the tour of the archaeological site and the introduction to the finds (although truth be told, Gluteus Maximus might still show up sometime during the day).

Don't let that discourage you from paying the site a visit though, if you're in the neighbourhood! We have some exciting archaeology on the site, including the remains of possibly Medieval merchant houses and Roman public buildings (likely an inn?). And, as I will be helping out with the finds, I will be sure to point out some very handsome and interesting bits and pieces to you. Furthermore, if the weather permits it, you might actually get to see the archaeologists and the international archaeology students in action on the site, uncovering Lincoln's rich history right in front of your nose!

Read more: The Lincoln Archaeological Field School

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Get them while they’re young! Part 1: Open Archaeology Day for kids.

"Gluteus Maximus" 

On the archaeological site where I’m currently working they have the pleasant tradition to once a year hold an Open Archaeology Day for children of a nearby school. This year we were visited by circa 40 children from year five (± 9 years old) who expected to take part in a range of archaeological activities such as: digging (in a sandpit outside, but with real finds), a tour around the site, metal detecting, a finds handling workshop and a finds washing workshop (Always a success. The dirtier the finds, the better!). 

True to the spirit of the excavation, the children were greeted by a real Roman soldier (Brian) named “Gluteus Maximus” (Don’t Google that. Just don’t!).

However, since the weather has been so very very miserable these past few weeks, all the outside activities had to be cancelled and the day before Archaeology Day we quickly had to come up with a few new activities. The activities we came up with were: finds handling workshop, finds washing workshop, finds identification and drawing workshop, drawing the site (by standing in the nearest building that had a good view of the site, and then looking out through the window. It happened to be the library, and yes, you can guess that that didn’t make us very popular), and for the first time, a conservation workshop!

As the finds assistant I was originally supposed to have led the finds workshop and taught the children something about the finds on our site and how archaeological finds are processed. However, since my colleague (Samantha Gordon) who would help out with the visits that day suddenly turned ill, our finds supervisor (Zoe Tomlinson) had to step in and take over her tasks. This meant that I had to take over Zoe’s tasks (keeping an eye on the finds processing done by the volunteers and the students) and wasn’t able to do the finds workshop or see for myself whether the conservation workshop was a success or not.

Fortunately, and to the surprise of some of the archaeology and heritage students, the workshop appears to have been a great success! The children really enjoyed it and learnt some interesting facts about conservation in the process, such as basic knowledge about corrosion (copper turns green, like the statue of liberty. Iron turns orange) and the cleaning and identification of objects under the microscope. Naturally, what they appear to have enjoyed most was the fact that they were all allowed to try out the white lab coat so they could have a go at looking at an object under the microscope like a real conservator.

Austin, one of our Canadian students participating in the field
school was kind enough to take a picture for me of two of the
children trying to identify an object through the microscope.
The workshop was led by Rachel, a conservation student from the University of Lincoln. She told me that not just the children, but also the students who helped out with the children’s activities, learnt something about conservation that day. Since Rachel has her “lab” (basically a table with a microscope and conservation tools) set up in the archaeology finds room, the students were not entirely unfamiliar with conservation (they frequently see her placing objects under the microscope and “picking” at them), but since they are not actually allowed to aid in the conservation of the finds they enjoyed learning more about this normally “hidden” aspect of taking care of heritage.

In the end nearly all the children left with the idea that they wanted to do something with heritage in the future. Whether they will stick with that idea or not, we will have to see. All in all, it was a very good day! 

Link to the Lincoln Archaeological Field School where the Open Day took place. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

3rd Meeting of WW2 & History in Joinville, SC, Brazil

3rd National Meeting of World War & History
25th - 26th August 2012
Rua Ministro Calogeras, 1200 - Joinville, SC

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Timbuktu heritage sites under threat

"Islamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes have destroyed the centuries-old mausoleums of saints in the Unesco-listed city of Timbuktu in front of shocked locals, witnesses say.

The attack by the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Dine group came days after Unesco placed Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger and will recall the 2001 dynamiting by the Taliban of two sixth-century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Bamiyan in central Afghanistan." - By: The Guardian

More recent news about the attacks on Mali heritage can be found on this BBC website

ETA 03/07/12: Opinion by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on this CNN website.

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