We have been working hard with our volunteers, identifying creators with strong Wiltshire connections and linking them with accredited museums and their collections. Once we have purchased an item or object of interest we have to make a number of assessments before the item can be passed to the relevant collection. First, is the receiving and unpacking of the item, followed by our initial condition report. Then we make a decision about conservation required after taking advice from the Conservation and Museum Service, based here at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, in Chippenham. The Nancy Nicholson textiles are a good example of this process and we decided to have some work undertaken by textile conservation experts in order to improve the appearance and to stabilise and prolong the life of the textiles concerned.
Textile Conservation Ltd. provided us with this assessment, taking into consideration the views of the Curator at Salisbury Museum and the potential storage and use of the textiles in a museum environment. Their advice was to de-construct one of the curtains that the textile had been made into, releasing and unpicking the heading tape, so that all layers of lining, wadding and printed fabric are separated. This then allows the main fabric to ‘relax’ and it will be more versatile for display purposes. The second curtain also had its heading tape released but was kept intact. All original elements of the de-constructed curtain are kept and packaged in acid free materials and the complete curtain is flattened and rolled onto a purpose made roll of wadding to support the fabric and layers, and for ease of transportation. Acid free tissue paper forms a protective layer as the textile is rolled and the protective packaging prevents unnecessary handling.
After this careful work, undertaken by textile conservator Stella, see above, the textiles really did look refreshed; eventually they will be moved to Salisbury Museum and provide an example of a hand crafted textile printed near Sutton Veny, south of Warminster, c1929; a suitable addition to the collection.