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When Surgery Meets Conservation: The Treatment of the Multi-material Sculpture Love Me by Sarah Lucas

This paper focuses on the complex conservation of the multi-material sculpture Love Me (1998) made by the British artist Sarah Lucas. The fragility of the constituent materials, combined with frequent transportations and installation/de-installation in art shows worldwide, had produced a deformation on one leg of the artwork. The goal of this experimental study was to develop a treatment methodology to ease out the dent and find a consolidant able to secure the area from further damage. A novel traction system, borrowed from medical limb-lengthening surgery, was developed and several types of tie rods and protecting layers were tested. Moreover, innovative materials based on nanocellulose particles were evaluated as strengthening agents for the papier-mâché layers and compared to traditional strengthening products. Due to the lack of information obtained from the experimentation, the use of nanocellulose particles was not considered safe for the treatment, which was done using more traditional materials, namely wheat starch and Kozo Japanese paper. Nevertheless, the results of the preliminary trials laid the foundation for the use of these novel products for conservation purposes.

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01 Jul 2020
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