Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stone Conservation- Scotland

Back in 2002 I moved from Glasgow to its very different but equally amazing neighboring city of Edinburgh, to take up a position with private stone conservation company owned and run by Nicolas Boyes. Over the following year I would gain a sound knowledge in the use of lime, and a ton of practical experience, working on-site full time on some of the most significant buildings in the capital. Here is just a few:

St. Giles Cathedral, Royal Mile

Since 1998 an important project has been underway to renew the fabric and interior of St Giles' Cathedral. So far, it has centred on conservation of the medieval Tower and the Crown Spire, and on the exterior of the building - releading of the roofs, stonework repairs and expert attention to the stained glass windows. My work included repointing 'miles of joints with natural lime mortar, securing loose areas of stone, and filling losses in the stone using a lime-based material which I color matched with addition of pure pigments and tooled to match texture etc.

Royal Scottish Academy, the Mound

The Royal Scottish Academy Building, situated in the centre of Edinburgh was designed by William Henry Playfair from 1822-26 with alterations 1832-5. Along with the adjacent National Gallery of Scotland, their neo-classical design helped transform Edinburgh in to a modern day Athens of the North. 2004 saw the completion of Phase 1 of the Playfair Project which consisted of restoration of the RSA building and creation of an underground link (Weston Link) between the RSA and the National Gallery of Scotland building behind. My work on the RSA included cleaning of interior stonework using steam-cleaners, and alone I carried out the removal of graffiti on 2 exterior sides of the buildings & their columns etc. Methods for graffiti removal included use of solvent gels, steam-cleaning and extensive use of a portable laser cleaning machine. Areas of greater disturbance were lime-washed after color matching.

Queensbury House-after completion of restoration

Queensbury House was built in the mid C17th and experience a fascinating history including site of a notorious murder, army barracks, public and geriatric hospital, a House of Refuge and in 1997 it was acquired by the Scottish Office to be integrated into the complex for the new Scottish Parliament building. This part of the project involved restoration of the exterior, return to its original height, and reinforcement with concrete & steel throughout.

For the interior, specialist contractors removed C19th plaster & excavated, then RCHAMS surveyed & documented the internal walls & historical features. Where stonework was of high quality it was left exposed and my work there involved brushing down loose areas of mortar then re-pointing around the stonework using historically accurate mortar. This had been matched for color, aggregate and composition, and was applied & fashioned so that it fitted in with the appearance of the areas of original mortar. Other remaining walls are covered in plasterboard and painted.

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