Marching through the paint layers of history—revealing the hidden secrets of Provisional Parliament House (Part 2)
A week is a long time at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House…especially when you are scraping paint off walls while the rest of Australia is lazing about on the beach, watching the cricket, playing with Christmas presents and feasting on leftovers. But we have a special Christmas present to show for all the work.
On the 27th of December we started a project to reveal a decorative paint finish in the Members’ Dining Room. For many days now Gillian Mitchell of Conservation Works Pty Ltd and her team of dedicated and remarkably patient conservators have been laboriously scraping back layers of paint to reveal the underlying decorative paint scheme. Working out how to get the top layers of paint off has been necessarily experimental. In some areas lengths of blue tape have been patted on and the top layers of paint eased off millimetre by millimetre using razor sharp scrapers, bringing to mind a poorly executed and painful band-aid removal.
In other areas the top layers of paint have been eased off relatively easily with scalpels and large satisfying flakes have been coming away. The work has been a rollercoaster—here easy and quick, there painstaking and slow—all while clad in hot, white protective suits, sweaty gloves, glasses and breathing masks and while standing on a ladder or scissor lift.
But the rewards! The results are fabulous and provide a wonderful insight into the paint finish that at one time decorated the Members’ Dining Room. Stay tuned for part 3 in this series of blog posts, coming soon.