Here's an update from Tracey Seddon, Head of Organics Conservation: "This is my first blog for a good while so I should introduce myself. I am Tracey Seddon, Head of Organics Conservation for National Museums Liverpool. What does that mean, I hear you ask? Well, basically I look after the museums’ objects; specifically those made from organic materials like wood, basketry, fur, feathers, horn, ivory and bone (I know! those latter two are only a tiny bit organic). Other specialist colleagues deal with specific categories of material like paintings, furniture and sculpture. Well last week was quite satisfying as I and a trusty team of colleagues got one of our largest items back on display after nearly three years out of the public eye. This is an early 16th century tapestry, The Triumph of Fortitude dating from around 1525 (yes, nearly 500 years old!). I do not normally deal with textiles and had never handled this item before so was quite nervous about how it would go. It is very heavy as well as large at 5 metres by 4.5 metres, and it took seven of us to unroll and hang it. I should have known that with the expertise of our Handling Technicians and the help of our furniture conservator, Graham Usher, as well as the curator, Xanthe Brooke, everything would go perfectly to plan.
Once we had the tapestry unrolled onto dust sheets on the floor, everyone else went for a cuppa while I had to sit on the floor and do a quick bit of conservation to support a small hole in the top border. This would not be my favourite working position but I had not been able to do the job in my work studio as there isn’t enough space to unroll the tapestry. My knees are still recovering! Graham took pity on me for a while and came to hold my task light for me.
The last time the tapestry was hung the Handling team had put in place a clever pulley system which means the chaps up the ladders don’t have to take all of the weight while it is being hoisted into place. The tapestry hangs from a batten using the Velcro type hook and loop fastener for attachment – this is the best mechanism for hanging flat textiles, particularly very heavy ones.
I think the tapestry looks great, once again taking pride of place in Room 2 of the Walker Art Gallery.