Restoration vs. Conservation?

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Posted by Steve Price on April 11, 1999 at 07:53:06:

Dear Friends,

Marvin's topic raises some very perplexing issues. One is whether restoration or conservation is appropriate for a particular rug.

The Ushak has been extensively restored, and not particularly artistically. I think I would react as negatively as Marvin to the aesthetics if I saw it in the wool. The repiling is distracting and unattractive. To me, it would have been better to leave the rug the way it was and to sew on a backing in some unobtrusive color so that it would hold together. My brain would have filled in the design elements in those areas. That still wouldn't make this piece my cup of tea, but that's a matter of taste, after all. The fact that it sold for serious money last week tells us that the buyer held certain aspects of it in very high regard, and sort of hearkens us back to a previous Salon on the topic of what motivates collectors to collect the things they do.

The Chodor piece is even harder for me to judge, being shown in black and white only. My guess is that it would look best if conserved by sewing on a backing to stabilize the slit rather than by reweaving it. On the other hand, I've seen many pieces that looked promising in black and white in a catalog, but when seen live proved to be obvious examples of instances in which the weavers were given colored wool to work with before they were quite ready for that step.

A more difficult and vexatious issue, with which I'm sure we'll deal in the next 10 days or so, is how we react to really excellent repair work.

Steve Price

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