"Dorothy" the Kitbag

11 December 2009 by Bridie Kirkpatrick

Isn’t it funny how things come about? While working on the textiles component for the exhibition Of Love and War a painted kitbag came to me for treatment. The lovely pin-up painted on the bag looked an awful lot like Dorothy Lamour, a beautiful actress known as the “Sarong Girl” in the 1940’s.  As the exhibition will be travelling I had to chuckle that Dorothy Lamour made a string of Bing Crosby/ Bob Hope “On the Road” films. The kitbag belonged to Signaller John Conrad Lynam, a timber cutter from Brisbane. Signaller John appears to have had an artistic hand and a taste for beautiful women.  The kitbag was worn and many years of use and storage had caused abrasions and losses. The paint was also flaking from the canvas, leaving the surface very unstable. The conservation challenge was to find a binding agent to stabilise the paint surface that was strong but flexible and would not discolour the paint or underlying canvas. After much testing a traditional conservation material “Isinglass” was chosen. Isinglass is made from the bladder of the Sturgeon fish and has the consistency of wall paper glue. It was applied sparingly with a small paint brush in conjunction with a wicking solvent.

 Applying solvent to "Dorothy" the Kitbag

The kitbag is currently on display and Dorothy is safe to go “On the Road” again.