Author: Meg Absolon
Date: 20 May 2014
Wind speed: 10kts
As AHT conservators we're always marvelling, ooh and aaahing at objects from Discovery Hut as they pass over our work benches. In many cases we can directly identify what we're working on as the same object shown in the historic photographs. There are many iconic objects from Discovery Hut which give the viewer a strong sense of connection to the heroic expeditions, particularly objects that are complete or in surprisingly good condition.
Such objects include cooking pots, hand-made tools and clothes, shoes and long-johns and beautiful boxes of Fry's cocoa tins. Working close-up with objects gives an altogether different experience and connection with these objects. As you document, repair or prepare surfaces at close range the finer details of the materials, use or re-use becomes apparent. The beautiful patina or severe delaminating corrosion that develops on metal that has been sitting in the Hut for over 100 years; the stitch pattern on a home-altered mitten; or the cutting and reshaping of bits and pieces to form an object for which purpose we may never be too sure. It’s this type of detail which sparks the imagination and appreciation for beauty in the macro world. To me this is just as rewarding as seeing the objects in the broader picture. Who had a hand at this object? Who lit this burnt-out match? Whose ideas transformed the object in front of me?
On the rusted metal edging of a biscuit supply box I recently worked on I happened to notice the stamped letter 'B' in the rivets securing it to the box. No more than 3mm's it seemed like a little gem among the rust.
I'm currently working on a Nansen cooker, a type of aluminium cooking pot system designed to work with a spirit fuelled primus stove, and whilst removing corrosion realised that the scrape marks on the side of the pot were left there by the last cook. Who was the last person to cook that day? How awful was the concoction and how hungry were they?
Scrape the pot
Then to the small and sweet. This tiny stamped markers mark, The Gutta Percha Company London, is all but 10mm across on a sweet little bottle only 12cm high. In the age of big bold logos this is a refreshing company sign.
The Gutta Percha Company
I'll continue to look out for more magical macro moments and keep you posted.