project


Figureheads update - Calcutta and Tamar

19th Century Ship's Figureheads for new arts complex The Box, Plymouth
19th Century Ship's Figureheads for new arts complex The Box, Plymouth
19th Century Ship's Figureheads for new arts complex The Box, Plymouth

We’re continuing to make great progress with our Figureheads. Calcutta has yet to be re-mounted but all finishing work is complete, as with the others, in an authentic style. A huge inspiration for the colour scheme were old cigarette cards from 1912, in which Calcutta was actually featured. We chose not to use the original colours exactly but opted for a more interesting and suitable palette to compliment all the other figureheads.

We found our other figurehead, Tamar, in a similar state to Topaze, as well as being 2-3 times her size. We will begin this conservation and restoration using similar methods as with Topaze. The first phase is taking him off the original mount which was constructed out of a ton and a half of steel. Tamar was mounted on a metal base with a 7-inch block of resin and chip wood applied on top. This mixture of adhesive and wood must have been a consolidant of choice during at the time of its remounting.

Looking through old pictures of Tamar, we suspected that this mixture covered between 6-7 inches of carving at the bottom of her. We began carefully chipping away and to our delight we uncovered beautifully preserved original carvings. The carvings in the rest of the wooden structure were far more degraded due to the water damage, so it was wonderful to see this.

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