Every summer, the team in our Michael & Sonja Koerner Centre for Conservation works with student interns who gain hands-on experience while helping keep the AGO Collection in tip-top shape.
Meet this year’s three conservation interns: Valerie Moscato, in her final year at Queen’s University, finishing a Master of Art Conservation, specializing in paintings; Julia Campbell-Such, who will graduate this year from Queen’s Master of Art Conservation program, with a focus on conservation of objects; and Leonie Muller, who is completing a Master of Arts at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design in paper conservation.
We think conservators are like superheroes of the art world – working to restore and protect great art. So we’ve given our conservation interns each a superhero name to reflect the fascinating work they’re doing.
Valerie Moscato – Painting Protector!
AGO: What are you working on this summer?
Valerie: I’m working with Maria Sullivan, Head of Conservation, and Meaghan Monaghan, Assistant Conservator of Paintings. I’ve been researching two Pegi Nicol MacLeod paintings that have similar types of paint deterioration. We’re trying to determine the cause of the deterioration and build a record of the artist’s materials, which we hope to publish once complete.
I’m also treating Adolf Vogt’s Niagara Falls in Summer. There is a lot of discoloured varnish residue stuck in the paint, and that disturbs how we see the picture. It was treated in 2002 at the AGO, but the treatment was halted during cleaning. Because cleaning research has developed since then, we now have more tools for a successful treatment. I’m fortunate to be working with the AGO’s conservation team and a wonderful collection.
Julia Campbell-Such – Sculpture Guardian!
AGO: Tell us about what project you’re working on this summer.
I’m working with Lisa Ellis, Conservator of sculpture and decorative arts, and Sherry Phillips, Conservator of contemporary art. Along with Leonie, I’ve also been working on A Trophy (for Tom Dean), a sculpture by artist James Carl. Early in his career, Carl made many works from cardboard. Cardboard is a very sensitive material. We are building a storage solution that limits that artwork’s exposure to light and acidic pollutants in the air and also provides structural support. For me, what’s been interesting is that an important part of contemporary art conservation is talking with living artists and understanding their concerns and goals for their work. We have been able to speak with James Carl about his piece and may be able to meet with him, which would be really wonderful.
Leonie Muller – Paper Saver!
AGO: What projects are you working on right now?
Leonie: I’m working with AGO conservators Joan Weir and Cyntia Karnes in paper conservation. Joan has me identifying a number of works and looking at the condition of the materials as well as their current mounts, thinking about treatment possibilities. We sometimes see older works mounted in ways that seem confusing, for example, so we do a lot of old hinge removals and suggest new ways of mounting the works.
I’m also getting a chance to accompany Joan and Cyntia in examining objects in the vaults. We are looking at paper works that may be in exhibitions or loaned to other galleries and are discussing treatment possibilities and general concerns with the curators. I’m really enjoying the chance to see into the AGO’s vaults and to be a part of a great conservation team.
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