John Coburn (1925 - 2006) was one of Australia's most highly regarded abstract artists. His distinctive style is characterised by two-dimensional blocks of bright, bold colour, and is often described as emitting a sense of joy and warmth. Primarily working as a painter, tapestry designer and printmaker, Coburn was also a respected teacher and became head of the National Art School in 1972. His work was widely celebrated during his lifetime and continues to hold popular appeal.
ICS was commissioned to conserve two of John Coburn's large tapestries, 'Terra Australis' and 'Earth Song', ready for installation on the walls of a corporate foyer in Sydney's CBD. Both tapestries had previously been on display in a different location, leading to light fading and particulate matter across their surfaces (particularly 'Earth Song', which had even accumulated leaves in some areas!). Since then, they had both been rolled and stored for some time.
Each piece was surface cleaned and brush vacuumed, front and back, to remove all particulates from the surface. A new Velcro hanging system and calico lining fabric were then attached, and new battens fabricated. The hanging system was designed to go along the top and side edges of each piece in order to properly stretch and present them for display. Due to the size of the tapestries and the prominence of their new location, the installation was undertaken outside normal business hours, and required the construction of scaffolding and work of three conservators to complete.
'Terra Australis' - After treatment
'Earth Song' - After treatment
'Terra Australis' - During treatment
'Earth Song' - Underside during treatment