|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
Watching the Restoration Process
International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper took place from August 31 through September 18, 2015. This workshop has been held jointly by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) for more than 20 years since 1992. This workshop aims to disseminate techniques and knowledge on preservation and restoration of cultural properties made of paper in Japan so they can be applied for conserving valuable cultural properties in other countries. In 2015, among 87 applicants from every part of the world, we invited 10 specialists in conservation, one person from each country: Australia, Belgium, Romania, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Austria, Ireland, Russia, the Netherlands and the United States.
The lectures covered the overview of how to restore Japanese paper objects, basic science for restoration materials, paper objects from an aspect of art history, and manufacture and handling of tools. Through the practical training, participants learned the process to restore paper objects and mounted art work into a hand scroll. They also produced a Japanese-style book binding. In addition, they learned about the structure of a folding screen and a hanging scroll as representative forms of Japanese cultural properties, and practiced to handling such objects. The participants visited Mino City and Kyoto City as a field study, although the schedule was slightly changed due to a typhoon. In Mino, they learned how to manually produce Japanese paper, as well as its ingredients and historical background. In Kyoto, they visited a traditional restoration studio and tools and materials stores. On the last day, a discussion was held as a summary of this course, and useful information was exchanged, such as how Japanese paper is used in each country.
We expect Japanese techniques and approaches will be useful for conservation and restoration of cultural properties overseas.
A survey at the National Gallery of Victoria
Japanese artworks in collections overseas play an important role in introducing foreigners to Japanese culture. However, there are few conservators of Japanese works overseas, so numerous works are not ready for exhibition, and those works are not properly conserved. The Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas so that these Japanese artworks can be conserved and exhibited. The program facilitates cooperation in conservation of works overseas and it conducts workshops in an effort to conserve and restore such works. The current survey examined Japanese paintings in Australia in order to identify works for future conservation by the cooperative program.
From March 16 to 19, Institute researchers visited the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia. The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne is Australia’s oldest art museum while the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra boasts the country’s largest collection of art. During the survey, the detailed state of hanging scrolls, a hand scroll, and folding screens (8 works in total) were examined and the works were also studied from the perspective of art history. The works will be assessed in terms of art history and works in need of urgent conservation will be identified based on the results of the survey, and works will be selected for conservation under the cooperative program. In addition, information gleaned from the survey will be provided to the curating institution in order to formulate future plans to exhibit and conserve the works.
Practice restoring Japanese paper in a cultural property
An International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper was conducted from August 25 to September 12. This course was co-organized by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and ICCROM. The main purpose of the course is to provide the person who work with cultural properties with the skills and knowledge necessary to conserve and restore paper cultural properties from Japan. Ten conservators from New Zealand, Taiwan, Denmark, the UK, Serbia, France, Cuba, the US, Australia, and Thailand were invited to attend this year’s course from among 69 applicants.
Lectures covered topics such as basic science related to restoration materials and cultural properties from an academic perspective. In addition, participants practiced restoring Japanese paper to make a finished scroll and Japanese-style book binding. Folding screens and hanging scrolls are typical forms of Japanese cultural properties, and participants studied the construction of these objects and they practiced handling them. Participants visited the Mino region in Gifu Prefecture and they learned about the process of hand-making Japanese paper, ingredients of that paper, and the historical background behind its manufacture. In addition, participants visited a traditional restoration studio and shops selling traditional tools and materials in Kyoto. An active discussion took place on the final day of the course. Participants exchanged opinions on the use of Japanese paper in their respective countries, and some participants asked technical questions about conservation. Through this course, Japanese techniques can help to conserve cultural properties overseas. Plans are to conduct similar courses in the future.
Demonstration of lining
International Course on Conservation of Japanese Paper was conducted from August 26th to September 13th by ICCROM and the Institute. Approximately 60 individuals who work with cultural properties applied from around the world. Of these, 10 individuals from the USA, UAE, Germany, Canada, Australia, UK, Malaysia, Switzerland, Bolivia, and Guatemala were selected to attend. The course focused on Japanese paper and included classes from perspectives ranging from materials science to history. In practical sessions, participants made infillings of missing portions, attached linings, attached rods, and mounted a work to a hanging scroll. They also attempted Japanese-style book binding. During this training, participants visited the Mino region in Gifu Prefecture, where a type of Japanese handmade paper that is used in restoration work is produced, and they also visited a town where traditional buildings are being conserved. Participants also visited traditional mounting studios and stores that make traditional tools and materials to learn about aspects relating to conservation of Japanese paper. The techniques and knowledge provided by this course will help encourage the conservation, restoration, and exhibition of Japanese paper cultural properties in collections overseas and can also be used to conserve and restore works made outside Japan.