Fragile layers: Consolidation of turkey red textile pattern book designs

Author: Bethany Procopio
Mentor: Richard Mulholland, Dr., Vice Chancellor's Fellow in Art Conservation

Institution: Northumbria University (United Kingdom)
Study programme: MA Conservation of Fine Art, 2nd year of study (of two)
Specialization: Conservation-restoration of works of art on paper

The technology and history of Turkey Red textile dying in Scotland has become a well-researched topic in the past ten years, but the pattern books used in manufacturing have received less attention. The National Museum of Scotland has entrusted a collection of pattern book pages to Northumbria University for research and conservation. These unbound sheets of newsprint paper are adhered, frequently on both sides, with elements such as paintings of the textile designs on paper, labels with hand-written text, and textile samples. This study focuses on the consolidation of the unstable painted designs, which is complicated by the structure of the object as well as the nature of the paints. The media consists of both matt and glossy paints that exhibit poor adhesion to a matt ground layer. This talk will address new research into the materiality of these designs through the hypothesis that the red ground layer may be a variation of the famous Turkey Red dye. It will discuss a reconstruction of this ‘Turkey Red paint’ based on an historic reference to create samples for comparing a number of consolidation methods with the goal of finding an appropriate treatment methodology for these unique works on paper.

Speaker's biography
BETHANY PROCOPIO began her studies in painting (BFA) at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (USA) and finished her degree at l’Accademia di Belle Arti (Florence, Italy). She then went on to complete her MA in Comparative Art and Archaeology at University College London (UK). After years of working in different roles in galleries, museums, and schools, Procopio returned to studies to specialise in the conservation of fine art at the Hochschule der Künste (Bern, Switzerland). In 2019, Procopio began her MA in Conservation of Fine Art, specialising in Works of Art on Paper at Northumbria University.