PMSA'S MARSH AWARDS The 2016 Shortlist for Excellence in Conservation


Barbara Hepworth DBE, Winged Figure 1963, 
John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, London W1

Conservator’s commentary:

In the summer of 2013 we took on the enviable project of restoring Barbara Hepworth’s Winged Figure attached to the John Lewis Building in Oxford Street, London. The sculpture was completed in 1962 and installed on the side of the building the following year, above one of the busiest shopping streets in London. Originally intended to reflect light, the sculpture had over the past 50 years, accumulated a vast amount of dirt, atmospheric pollution and previous old wax coatings, along with damage to the soft metal surfaces.

Over several weeks the sculpture was carefully cleaned by a team of conservators from Richard Rogers Conservation. The dirt layers were initially removed by a controlled hot steam cleaner followed by meticulous hand cleaning to bring the metalwork back to life. Following repairs to the metal surfaces, three coats of clear wax were applied and lightly buffed to give the sculpture its reflective finish as seen today.

Hepworth intended the sculpture to evoke the free feeling of flight and it was a privilege to bring the Winged Figure back to its original state, so that it can evoke the sensations that she described when talking about the piece.

Since conservation, Hepworth’s Winged Figure has been awarded Grade II* listing by Historic England.

James Forsyth, Market Place Fountain, Dudley, West Midlands

Conservator’s Commentary:

Presented to the town by William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley in 1867, this historic fountain was designed and sculpted by James Forsyth. Built of red and grey granite, Carrara marble and Portland stone in an Italianate High Renaissance and Baroque style, the 27 foot high Grade II listed fountain had fallen into disrepair. There was significant weathering and loss; flowing water had not been a feature since the last century and the two statues symbolic of the local industries, Miningand Agriculture, set in the interior niches, had lost their heads.

Old photographs and written references were used to help restore the lost elements of the fountain and the missing heads. Surface dirt was removed to restore the natural white of the Portland stone, it was repointed and repairs were made to the stonework. An excavation was made under the structure to allow a pump chamber to be built to house hydraulics and electrics and new pipework was installed to bring the fountain back into use. The water basins and the statues were restored and a new tiered water fountain was recreated in the central archway to replace the missing original. The dome of the fountain once had two large plates of coloured glass inserted under the dome, which threw beautiful light over the central fountain. Similar coloured glass panels were reset into the dome to create the same effect.

For a full description of the fountain and its history see National Recording Project

Eduardo Paolozzi CBE RA, London to Paris 
Cass Sculpture Foundation, Goodwood, West Sussex 

Conservators commentary:

In early 2014, we were contacted by the Cass Sculpture Foundation to undertake the restoration of Eduardo Paolozzi’s monumental sculpture, London to Paris. This sculpture is one of Paolozzi’s last major pieces and has been on display outdoors for over thirteen years.

The sculpture is constructed from Iroko wood and bronze, with steel fixings. These materials had been affected by years of exposure to the elements, resulting in; mildew and moss growth; wood movement and warping; and trapped moisture causing rot in some areas.

Our team carefully dismantled the sculpture, documenting the placement of each piece. The pieces were then cleaned and the warped and rotten areas restored. The bronze sections were cleaned and waxed to protect the existing patina. The final stage of reassembly took place over the course of one week.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 2 November 2016

Main image: Barbara Hepworth, Winged Figure, 1963, Oxford Street London (photo: courtesy Bowness, Hepworth Estate)

Aurora Corio