It is interesting that Rex Nan Kivell (1898–1977), an art dealer who was so passionately interested in portraiture and in the representation of those that shaped our part of the world, only commissioned two artists to capture him in portrait form. He included these works in his compendium Portraits of the Famous and Infamous along with references to, and images of, his friends and those who had assisted him to produce his very time-consuming volume over nearly two decades.
Many of the items on display in our Exhibition Gallery for the William Strutt exhibition, Heroes and Villains: Strutt's Australia, previously had dark orange and brown staining on their corners from deteriorated sticky tape or adhesive where it may have been previously mounted. These dark adhesive residues had begun to stain the objects all the way through to the front of the work. As this was accelerating the rate of degradation of these works, we have attempted to remove as much of the adhesive and stain as possible without causing harm to the work.
One of my favourite parts of working on exhibitions is undertaking research and having the opportunity to find out the stories behind the items in our collection.
In preparation for display in the Library’s current exhibition Revealing the Rothschild Prayer Book c. 1505–1510 from the Kerry Stokes Collection, Preservation Services was very excited to receive into its care a fourteenth-century English Psalter MS 1172. The Latin text is dated to 1330–1350 AD and features annotations and drawings by a sixteenth-century Welsh school boy. The manuscript remains in what appears to be its original monastic binding.
It’s not often that Australian conservators get the chance to work with fragments from the Medieval era. However, this year the whole conservation team at the National Library had the privilege of working with 108 fragments of medieval manuscripts collected by Rex Nan Kivell. The fragments, all in much need of some conservation attention and time, was the focus of this year’s Tax Time Appeal project. The parchment fragments arrived in the Preservation Services laboratory in varying states of disrepair due to their use and re-use as paste- in’s for books produced in later eras.