Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

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Conservation Open Day to ‘save the swimming saurians’

22 November 2016

Conservation of the dinosaur statues

On Wed 26 October, around 120 Dino fans joined us for our latest Open Day to see up close the second phase of the conservation programme currently being carried out by Skillington Workshop.

Our team of professional conservators, education specialists and artists explained the conservation work happening on the other side of the fence through activities the whole family could enjoy.

The Open Days are part of our programme to increase understanding of why these Grade 1-listed sculptures require on-going specialist conservation. Although they’ve been voted London’s favourite public sculptures, the work required to stabilise and protect them is just beginning.

Before venturing on to the island, the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs conservation team explained what is being done to combat the severe deterioration attacking the sculptures.

Sometimes, the principles and techniques of conservation can be difficult to understand. Our film The Seven Deadly Agents of Destruction is a great introduction to what the Dinos are up against.

Plant growth causing problems for this poor ichthyosaur

The seven sculptures being worked on at the moment are suffering from cracking due to a range of ‘evil agents’:

Dino ‘eyes’ and ‘horns’ prepared earlier for the Open Day

To demonstrate the skills and techniques conservators need to treat cracks, we set up a table of ‘Dinosaur parts’ in need of help. Kids could try their hands at filling the gaps and replacing lost material with Plaster of Paris. Then the fills had to be painted in, so the repairs blended with the original material.

Jill and India from the FCPD conservation team supervise some good work

More than just a bit of fun, this not only demonstrated some of the practical skills that conservators use but also helped us explain the difficult choices we make when selecting materials for conservation. Gap-filling material has to fulfil a range of strict requirements, such as:

Mark from Skillington Workshop explaining the conservation approach on the island tour

After all this thinking and working, it was a relief to visit the island and see the professionals taking care of the conservation. David and Mark from Skillington Workshop took tour groups right up to the edge of their site to discuss the ethics and practicalities of their work.

Details of the next conservation open day on Saturday 26 November are available on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

With huge thanks to: David Carrington and Mark Porter from Skillington Workshop, the FCPD conservation team (Jill Barnard, India Carpenter, Louise Peddie and Hazel Gardiner), other Friends (David Vallade, Ellinor Michel, Erykah Brackenbury), id verde UK (Tomas Vnucak), Bromley (Penny Read) and Friends of Crystal Palace Park (Lucy Hopkins).

Rebecca Bennett, FCPD Conservation Team

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