Student Conservators at Melbourne

2018 Second Life: Conserving Experience

Second Life: Conserving Experience


september 2018

By Lisa Mansfield

Exhibition Dates: September–November 2018 / Opening Night: 19 Sept 2018, 5pm–7pm for drinks, cheese + Atari / GPG Project Spaces, George Paton Gallery, Melbourne

Second Life: Conserving Experience examines the importance of everyday things and the memories attached to them. Photographs, toys, teacups, and games provide material evidence of culture, community and family – linking our contemporary life to the past, and to formative experiences with people we love.

Each of these personally significant objects – an acrylic painting, grandmother’s china, family photographs, and computer games – require different approaches, material knowledge and practical skills to preserve them for the future. Conservation techniques include: solubility testing, cleaning, consolidation, infilling, tear repair and preventive conservation storage. The processes for each object type have been captured using time-lapse photography.

Vintage band posters capture a moment in time and reflect on Union House as a site for live music. The back of a poster displays several tears repaired using Japanese tissue paper and Aytex-P wheat starch paste. Aytex-P is commonly used as an adhesive in paper conservation due to its excellent long-term aging characteristics.

Textile-based toys have sustained material damage from a common conservation pest, the clothes moth. A dental aspirator (vacuum) has been used to remove insect frass and dust; fine mesh is secured over the nozzle to prevent the loss of loose fibres.


Curation + installation design by Lisa Mansfield

Experimental Art Space (lvl 2)
– Catherine Gill, painting conservation
– Sholeh Magzub, ceramic conservation
– Joshua Cassidy, photographic conservation
– Chris Redman, digital conservation
– Katrina Watson, time-lapse photography

West Glass Cabinet (lvl 2)
– Christine Mizzi (paper conservation)

Vitrine Project Space (ground floor)
– Lisa Mansfield, textile conservation

Catherine, Sholeh, Joshua, Chris, Christine, Katrina and Lisa are student conservators of the Master of Cultural Materials Conservation program at The Grimwade Centre, University of Melbourne.  

Big thanks to The Break Room for their sustainably-sourced shattered ceramics; Charity Bramwell and Nick Dorrer for installation support; Sandie Bridie for championing student exhibitions, and Katrina Watson for her technological know-how.

Download the multilingual exhibition sheet.