Thursday 17 October 2013 by Nick Flood. 6 comments
First World War Centenary, Conservation

Ypres, 1917 dioramaYpres, 1917 diorama

One of the most astonishing aspects of the First World War dioramas is the figures of soldiers in battle. These figures show expressive action in minute detail. Figures on the Ypres, 1917 diorama were sculpted by Wallace Anderson between 1922-23 and later cast in metal in 1931.

Conservators are currently working to clean and repair the dioramas, including the figures. In this blog post we have selected two examples of figures found in a damaged state from the Ypres, 1917 diorama. Before, during and after treatment photographs are used to show the process of conservation.

The first figure was found with a brake at its right elbow. The figure was cleaned and the broken limb reattached.

Before treatment: brake at right elbow, dustyBefore treatment: brake at right elbow, dusty

During treatment: figure with right forearm removed, cleanedDuring treatment: figure with right forearm removed, cleaned

During treatment: right forearm reattached using conservation grade adhesive, foam block used to support limbDuring treatment: right forearm reattached using conservation grade adhesive, foam block used to support limb

After treatment: figure with right forearm reattachedAfter treatment: figure with right forearm reattached

The second figure was found without a right hand. During our investigation, the absent hand was found on the ground near the figure’s feet. The figure was cleaned and the hand was readhered and supported while the adhesive was allowed to set.

Before treatment: missing hand found, dustyBefore treatment: missing hand found, dusty

During treatment: figure with right hand missing, cleanedDuring treatment: figure with right hand missing, cleaned

During treatment: figure with right hand reattached with conservation grade adhesiveDuring treatment: figure with right hand reattached with conservation grade adhesive

After treatment: figure with both handsAfter treatment: figure with both hands

The conservation grade adhesive used in these repairs will not harm the figures and can be easily removed if necessary.

In future blog posts we hope to show details of the methods we use to replace missing components of the dioramas.

Thanks for your interest and we look forward to reading your comments.

Comments

Steph

It is wonderful to see the meticulous effort put into conservation of the War Memorial dioramas. An excellent result for the people of today and for future generations to enjoy.

Kon K

Its great to see that these dioramas are being cared for so well. No modern computerised interactive learning aids are as complete as this. They give the viewer a 3D snapshot of a portion of the battlefield all at once, and make you think what might have just happened and what awaits each tiny participant. The fact these were crafted by W. Anderson a veteran of the first world war gives them real legitimacy and historical value. Excellent work.

Rob S

I'm very interested in seeing the repairs. I worked on quite a few of these dioramas over the course of around 15 years with George Browning. Moving, repairing and rejoining the doiramas and repainting the backgrounds. I had to repair quite a few of the figures that had been damaged. I replaced some of the rifles, which I molded in lead off an original weapon.

Peter M

Thanks for this blog. Great to see extensive photos of each stage of this conservation treatment and get a sense of how the work is progressing. I look forward to the next posts.

Jodie

What a great project. Really interesting to see the before and after photos to get a sense of your progress and techniques.

Malore

Very interesting read, keep up the good work!

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