I’ve been following MaryJo Lelyveld’s work with interest for while now. In addition to working a conservator of frames and furniture at the National Gallery of Victoria, she is pursuing a Masters of Management (Strategic Foresight) at Swinbourne University. Based on one of her articles, I’ve added Plextol B500 in my arsenal of options for adhesives I use for replacement gilding, and I’ve told more than a few people about her work looking at possible scenarios for the future of the conservation profession.
In this talk, MaryJo applied a framework called Integral Theory to help navigate the various ways help articulate object values and understand our audience’s perspective on our work, using her work on a carved and gilded French frame made in 1710 for The Crossing of the Red Sea by Nicolas Poussin, c. 1634. [A
short tirade digression: Note that in this ArtDaily.org article celebrating the restoration of the painting and frame which even quotes MaryJo about her work, the frame was not included in the image. There is an image of the framed painting on the National Gallery of Victoria's homepage.]
Integral Theory, as developed by Ken Wilber, uses a 4 block grid system, similar to the one Barbara Appelbaum uses for her Characterization Grid which maps various values as they apply to artifacts to assist in developing proposals for conservation treatment, and likewise provides a systematic overview of a complex practice. In MaryJo’s rendering of Wilber’s grid for conservation practice, each quadrant relates to a particular viewpoint, the personal, the physical, the cultural, and social as they relate to the conservator, the artifact, and the audience. The graphic nature of the grid, I think, is really important in explaining this as applied to conservation, and without one of her examples I’m afraid I won’t be able to explain it well here. I look forward to seeing her work on this topic published.
She pointed out that each single quadrant only provides a single perspective, a partial truth. By navigating the viewpoints, the grid enhances a conservator’s ability to combine these partial truths to gain a fuller understanding of the object and its place in society and explain its importance and why it might merit conservation treatment.