Recently I have been undertaking a short work placement at the V&A museum, working on original drawings and sketches by the English architect Pugin.

Pugin was responsible for much of the design of the Palace of Westminster, as well as the clock tower of Big Ben, London, to name but two of his many feats.

Many of the designs in the collection have been adhered on to secondary board supports along the edges only, that is to say they have been drummed on, causing tensions withing the object and an unsuitable support mechanism. Backing removal therefore had to be carried out, mechanically removing as much of the boards as possible (see image).



The first object worked on was a drawing on tracing paper, adhered to a card secondary support, and a board tertiary support. The board was removed and the object immersion washed, keeping the primary and secondary supports adhered, and removing the softened remnants of the board from the verso when still wet.

The second object worked on had the backing removed as far as possible (pictured above), but the presence of fugitive media on the recto limited treatment options. A small amount of moisture was applied to the verso to remove the remnants of paper left after backing removal.

Working with tracing paper has been a new experience, and working with such delicate material that is highly responsive to moisture has been very practically challenging. The extent of backing removal involved in this short project has also been a greatly worthwhile experience, serving to enhance my hand skills and confidence in undertaking such work.