Showing posts with label Julia Brennan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Julia Brennan. Show all posts

July 23, 2013

Work of textile conservator Julia Brennan (ARCA '09) featured in new book on "The Turkish Ambassador's Residence and the Cultural History of Washington, D.C."

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The work of textile conservator Julia Brennan (ARCA '09) is one of the many features in the recently published book by Istanbul Kültür University, The Turkish Ambassador's Residence and the Cultural History of Washington, D.C., authored by Skip Moskey, Caroline Mesrobian Hickman, and John Edward Hasse.

Here are link's to Ms. Brennan's posts in 2011 on the Everett's House Ottoman-style wall fabrics in the ballroom and the project to conserve them.

The residence of the Turkish Ambassador in the American capital is a early 20th century mansion (1910-1915) buildt by Ohio-industrialist Edward Hamlin Everett (1851-1929) and designed by George Oakley Totten, Jr. The Turkish government purchased the home during the Great Depression and undertook a restoration of the residence between 2001 and 2007 under the direction of interior designer Aniko Gaal Schott and architect Belinda Reeder.

Mr. Skip Moskey writes on the 'intersection of politics, architecture, and social structure in the early history of Washington' and used primary research materials to write about Edward Hamlin Everett. Ms. Caroline Hickman wrote about the architect Totten and the interior decoration of the house using diplomatic records in the national Archives. John Edward Hasse documents the musical history of the residence, once the childhood home of the co-founder of Atlantic Records:
An important chapter in the history of the house was the decade between 1934 and 1944, when the sons of Ambassador and Mrs. Mehmet Münir Ertegün, Ahmet and Nesuhi, brought noted African-American musicians home for jazz sessions in the Embassy. There they broke racial barriers and enriched Washington's music scene through their passion for African-American music.
Ms. Brennan worked on the cleaning and conservation of the embroidered and appliqué silk architectural textiles that decorate the upper sections of the ballroom walls, as she describes here:
an extraordinary complex technique of appliqué of silk sateen cutouts (think matisse) on top of contrasting silk sateen ground, with each motif outlined with a cording that was stitched and glued on. The pattern, an architectural niche containing a tall bulbous 'vase' shape, alternates the red and gold silk, so the eye moves along as if following a series of decorative windows.
YouTube has a series of videos on the book launching at the Turkish residence in early July, including a discussion by Ms. Caroline Mesrobian Hickman.  

March 7, 2013

Wall Street Journal article highlights work of textile conservator Julia Brennan (ARCA Alum 2009)

An article in The Wall Street Journal by freelance writer Joanne Lee-Young, "A Guardian of Rare, Exotic Fabrics", highlights the work of textile conservator Julia Brennan who attended ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection in 2009.

Ms. Brennan's professional highlights include conservation work on Abraham Lincoln's coat, Babe Ruth's kimono; a 19th century Thai robe gifted by the King of Siam to the only foreign naval officer charged with leading the Royal Thai Navy; and teaching textile conservation techniques to monks in Bhutan. 

March 2, 2013

Continued coverage of the Conference on Protection of Cultural Property in Asia

Textile conservator Julia M. Brennan continues coverage of last month's conference.

The conference was structured into 3 thematic working sessions: Policy and Institutional Framework and Capacity Building (Session 1);  Technical Aspects of Protecting Cultural Heritage Property: Networking with INTERPOL and the International Community (Session 2); and Recovery of Cultural Property, post Theft or Disaster (Session 3).  Here are highlights of a few of the talks: 

Session 1 presentations dovetailed, making a strong case for the use of preventative measures to protect cultural heritage.

Mr. Etienne Clement, Deputy Director of UNESCO, Bangkok gave the opening talk for Session 1 covering national and international laws, international conventions such as the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict1970 UNESCO Convention on Illicit Trafficking, and the UNIDROIT. He made a compelling argument for nation states to adopt and use these conventions; teach cultural heritage personnel and police about them; and use them as a foundation tool for combatting the illicit trade in antiquities and art.

Mr. Tshewang Gyalpo, Chief of Bhutan’s Department of Culture, spoke about the country’s national database of heritage; defined Bhutanese heritage; outlined the role of the conservation department and regional cultural officers and the trainings in place to better secure sacred sites.

Mr. Karl-Heinz Kind, INTERPOL, provided an overview of the important and active role that his agency performs, advocating member states to join and participate. The effectiveness of  INTERPOL's stolen works of art database and Project PSCHE (designed to utilize the Italian Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage's help in modernizing the database). He emphasized that investigations and recovery are only supported by nations’ involvement and called for greater involvement by nations to make protection of cultural heritage a priority.

Julia Brennan (left) and Fiona MacAlister (right) with
 Dasho Dorjee Tshering, Secretary of Home and Culture
Ms. Fiona Macalister, a disaster preparedness expert from the UK, and I, a textile conservator and consultant for preventative conservation, made the case for employing preventative measures at the front end to protect cultural heritage. Fiona provided a clear blueprint for risk management and disaster planning, outlining different disaster scenarios in the event of  fire, flood, earthquake, and theft and provided standards, checklists, and constructive methods of training. I outlined methods adopted from conservation including secure storage, good protective housings, training of local caretakers and cultural heritage staffs, the importance of detailed and updated documentation, analysis, collaborating with and training of law enforcement, raising public awareness and ownership through media outlets, and engagement of community based groups and tourist infrastructure.

Session 2 featured talks specifically focused on law enforcement efforts to combat the illicit trade. Among the presentators were:

Mr. Gaspare Cilluffo, Customs, Italy, provided an introduction to the law enforcement real time platforms of ARCHEO and COLOSSEUM. He provided clear how-to-use steps for these programs, for both customs and police, in an effort to broaden the international communications and work in real time. He emphasized the goals of sharing information about seizures and new trends, background profiles, best practices, and official consulting experts.

Ms. Silvilie Karfeld, from the German Police, provided extremely useful and creative methods to combat the illicit trade across uncontrolled borders. From the macro of international law enforcement efforts, collaboration between nations, to micro solutions such as neighborhood watch programs, physically marking artifacts as ID, registration of artifacts with cut off dates, pressuring and working with major online sales sites and insurance industry. Like Clement and Brennan, she advocated enhancing the awareness by common people, utilizing the media, and encouraging source countries to take action and monitor the art markets themselves.

Both Mr. Martin Finkelberg, Art Crime Police, The Netherlands, and Mr. Iain Shearer, formerly with the UK Police, gave inspirational and personal talks about investigations and seizures, and the importance of networking. Iain outlined some British successes in seizing illicit Afghan antiquities since 2006. Both an archeologist and police officer, his talk was a lively history of ancient sites and their importance, how they are pillaged, and arrive in the end market. Martin used several case studies to show the success of having informants, a strong prosecutor, utilizing databases, to solve heritage thefts.

Session 3 focused on recovery and methods employed.

Professor Duncan Chappell from Australia outlined several recovery cases in the market country Australia of SEA artifacts and human remains blatantly for sale by BC Gallery:  While some artifacts were recovered or pressure was brought to bear to remove artifacts from sale, the Australian laws are toothless and do not support timely prosecution or seizure. As with many countries, the little slap of the hand does nothing to stem the trade, Professor Chappell said, and called for greater funding for research, investigation and cross border collaboration in the Asian Pacific region.

Major Guy Tubiana, Chief of Security for France’s Museums and Cultural Sites, provided some sound and simple tips for securing sites and training staff. He emphasized the sixth sense of police and security experts, and the constantly changing landscape of theft and trafficking.

Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel, Chief of Royal Bhutan Police, gave an excellent talk about the state of cultural heritage protection in Bhutan, the locations of highest thefts, the incentives and investigation methods employed, and some creative, if not controversial solutions to the problem of chorten vandalism.

The conference concluded with strategic working sessions on each of the three themes. Each group provided a set of recommendations for improving nation’s capacity building, and better protection of cultural heritage though the implementation of specific tasks, many adopted from the three days of presentations.

At the end of three days, attendees took away the strong message that as a global community, we must partner, deploy all the tools possible, engage and maintain strong active relationships across borders, and promote both loss and success more effectively through the media. It also underlined the greater need for the development of stronger Asian participation in law enforcement, liaison with INTERPOL and international customs, and prioritizing the protection of cultural heritage by Asian governments.

This conference was a good first step for combatting the illicit trade in Asia. And, to maintain the momentum, we need to follow up quickly, with additional sessions in Thailand, Singapore, and China, (at the very least), with a focused attempt to identify and bring key law enforcement and cultural heritage professionals to the table. In addition, we could strategically reinforce the message with post conference trainings of law enforcement, customs, and rural caretakers in methods of investigation, analysis, better security, filing stolen art, and monitoring of art sales. Too many major Asian players were missing in Bhutan, but there is a lot of opportunity ahead.  

Website of conference: www.mohca.gov.bt/conference

Published papers forthcoming in 2013

Julia M. Brennan is a Conservator and Cultural Heritage Protection Consultant www.caringfortextiles.com.

February 13, 2013

ARCA Alum Julia Brennan Invited to Speak at the Conference on Protection of Cultural Property in Asia, Feb. 15-18, 2013


Julia Brennan
ARCA Alum (2009) and textile conservator Julia Brennan will be one of the speakers at the Conference on Protection of Cultural Property in Asia in the Kingdom of Bhutan this week.  Ms. Brennan has worked in Bhutan and Thailand for more than a decade. She will be speaking on "Deterring the Illicit Art Trade and Preserving Cultural Heritage: The Essential Role of Collection Care Professionals and Preventive Conservation" on a panel moderated by Professor Wendy Larson, a specialist in East Asian Language and Literature at the University of Oregon.

Here's a link to the final agenda for the conference to be held Feb. 15-18.  Speakers include: Mr. Etienne Clement, Deputy Director, UNESCO, Bangkok, "International Convention on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Objects and other specific action by UNESCO"; Jean-Robert Gisler, Switzerland, "Fight Against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property in Switzerland as a Market Country: Organization, Perspective and Institutional Policy"; Karl-Heinz Kind, Germany: "Role of INTERPOL in the Fight Against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property"; Tshewang Gyalpo, Bhutan: "Protecting Moveable Cultural Properties in Bhutan"; Martin Finkelnberg, The Netherlands, "Technical Aspects of Protecting Cultural Property - Networking: A case of The Netherlands"; Ann Shaftel, Canada, "Need for Implementing Security Training in Traditional Buddhist Monasteries and Nunneries"; Dr. Iain Shearer, "The Trade in Illicit Afghan Cultural Property in London: The Response of Key British Institutions Since 2006"; Duncan Chappell, Australia and Damien Huffer, "Bringing Them Home: Some Contemporary Australian Perspectives on the Investigation, Prosecution, Seizure and Repatriation of Looted Asian Region Human Remains and Artefacts"; Major Guy Tubiana, France, "Experience of a Police Officer in the Protection of Cultural Property"; and Fabrizio Panone, Italy, "Fight Against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Heritage: Oppositional Activities at International Level".

May 6, 2012

ARCA Grad Julia Brennan helps launch Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles

Julia Brennan in her Thai Ruan Ton dress outside museum.
ARCA Alum '09 Julia Brennan, a textile conservator, was one of the international consultants who helped  to develop the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles in Thailand.

The institute focuses on preserving and reviving the Thai silk industry.

Here and here are two articles on the Queen's textile museum.  Brennan trained the conservation staff, helped design and set up the conservation lab, and worked with the team to treat, prepare and install more than 150 textiles for the inaugural exhibitions.

The museum will open to the public on May 9th.

November 18, 2011

Part Two: Conserving the Treasured Wall Fabrics of the Turkish Ballroom 2002-2007

Julia Brennan sewing net over damaged areas of silk
by Julia M. Brennan
ARCA Washington DC Correspondent

Part two

Atasoy describes that tent makers were divided into groups – those who sewed the tents and others who embroidered. The tent pieces were layers of fabric; the decorations, mostly floral, were cut out of fabric such as satin or silk, to shape the motif such as vase or column. They were sewn onto the backing fabric. A contour around the motif was shaped with a silk cording and sewn onto around the contours to mask the uncut edges and prevent unravelling. This is exactly how these wall fabrics were constructed; with a combination of stitching, glues, appliqués, and embroidery inside the vases. They are also pieced together; with patches inserted around arches, windows, and the stage. There were obviously plenty of pieces on site in order to exactly fit the fabrics into the finished architectural space. The patterns do not all match up – it is a patch work in many curved and small areas.

Lime encrustations and crepeline overlay from the 1960s
Another clue about the construction comes with the backing fabric, a coarse burlap fabric. This was behind all the appliqué silk. It is essentially the backing cloth. The old Ottoman tents were constructed with a taupe colored structural skeleton called ‘cengari’. This carried the weight of the embellishment and helped stabilize during constant installations. The hanging rings were sewn to this rough cloth. This system of hanging rings, (supplemented by later tacks, nails, and glue) was still evident on the Turkish Residence Ballroom textiles. The jute is part of the structure of the textiles. A linen backing had been sewn onto the back probably in the 1960’s campaign.

This was a massive project –- 515 square feet of complex and damaged textiles.

My team set up our workshop in the Residence and stayed for 11 months working, spread out on tables, and up on scaffolding as the seasons passed from blooming dogwoods, shivering cold winter bringing in our heaters, and back into spring, and the blossoming pear trees again. We vacuumed every two days just to pick up the fibers that were flying off the silks. We divided the panels up by location, documented extensively, and then systematically cleaned and repaired. Repairs had to be gross approach and not minute, due to sheer scope of project.

Once all the panels were de installed, then the architects could truly evaluate and see how damaged and porous the walls were. Since the entire house was being renovated, outside masonry work would be done to solve the leaking and stabilize the interior walls. The old crepeline overlays were removed, as well as the later linen backings. Each panel was carefully vacuumed through protective screens to remove surface soiling and dust. This also provided an opportunity to carefully examine each panel, document damage, as well as embroidery and technique.

Full panel after conservation
The most difficult challenge was cleaning. A majority of the soiling was greasy and gritty, blackened and dark stains, from leaks, coal burning heating system and city grime. Embedded into the silks and burlap, it made the fabrics brittle and dry rotted in areas. Due to the original use of glue to attach some of the appliqué and cording, a wet cleaning treatment was ruled out.

Moreover, this kind of soiling is better cleaned with solvent based applications. All the different fabrics and dyes were tested with the solvent and detergent. An extraction system was employed, pushing and extracting a petroleum-based volatile solvent combined with detergent, through each panel, section by section. Buckets of black solvent were extracted from the panels; a majority of the embedded soiling was removed and many of the dark stains were reduced in appearance.

The repair and stabilization of the fabrics was an eight month process. All the loose cording was re attached with hand stitching. The loose pieces of silk appliqué were re attached with hand stitching, and holes were ‘patched’ using new silk sateen in a similar color. Shredded silk sateen was realigned and couched with hand stitching. The surface silks were still fragile and the weight of the appliqué pulled on the silk ground cloth. Because the panels had to be strong and stable enough to be hung again for a projected fifty years, the decision was made to encase the most fragile of the panels in protective netting. If the panel was predominantly red, then a marroon netting was laid over the panel and hand stitched around the edges, and throughout all the patterning, following the edges of the applied cording and designs. Red and gold netting overlays were applied to about 40% of the panels. This overlay literally holds the silks in place and prevents loss while vertically hanging. The overlays do create a slight ‘veiling’ of the embroidery details and cast a slight red or gold sheen over those treated panels.

Finally, new cotton sateen linings were hand sewn to the back of each panel and fragment. Two inch wide Velcro machine sewn to three inch wide cotton upholstery tape was hand sewn along every edge of each panel, both horizontal and vertical axis. Four years later, when the house was completely renovated, our team returned to install the fabric panels. The walls, fully repaired, were sealed with a vapor and moisture barrier. Two inch wide thin battens were attached to the wall mirroring where the Velcro was on each panel. Two inch wide Velcro hook was stapled to the walls aligning with each strip of Velcro on each panel. One by one, working around the room, the panels were re attached. Finally, a system of low level LED ‘marquee’ lights were installed above and below the panels. This provides a subtle and safe lighting solution.

These textile panels never revealed a name or date, but their construction was telling about a by-gone era and production, as well as a flamboyant architect and his trusting patron. The Turkish Embassy did a great service restoring not only these unusual textiles, but the entire building.

References:

Atasoy, Nurhan. “Otag-I Humanyan: The Ottoman Imperial Tent Complex, Aygaz”, Istanbul, 2000.
Atasoy, Nurhan. “The Ottoman Tent”, www.turkishculture.org

Stone, Caroline. "Movable Palaces", Saudi Aramco World, July/August 2010, pgs. 36-43

Julia M. Brennan

November 17, 2011

Part One: Conserving the Treasured Wall Fabrics of the Turkish Ballroom 2002-2007

Julia at work in 2004
Julia M. Brennan
ARCA Washington DC Correspondent

Part one

In 2002 the Turkish government launched the renovation of the 1606 23rd Street, NW mansion; every detail both structural and decorative. It took four years. I served on a team consisting of an architect, engineer, designer, curator, conservators and appraisers evaluating the ballroom wall hangings. The main question was how much life remains? Could they be aesthetically and structurally restored to validate the cost of conservation? Discussions included possible replacement with reproduction weavings from high scale design houses, to simulate the overall look but not historic techniques. Another option considered was having new ‘embroideries’ produced in Turkey. (Could that even be done?) Concerns about the structural integrity of the walls to prevent future damage were hammered out. Since the entire mansion was going to have a grand face lift, these textiles had to meet the same aesthetic bar. Otherwise, the inclination was for retirement and replacement with in a newer look, a ‘proven’ longer term wall treatment.

Detail of stains
Nearly 100 years in situ had severely damaged the 515 square feet of wall fabrics. Visible from the floor, about 25% of the fabrics were in severe condition - badly stained, disintegrating, falling apart, and truly disfigured. Huge black stains around window frames marked where the silks were completely rotted. From a cursory examination on ladders, it was evident that the silks and backing fabrics were dry rotted, huge holes proliferated, the stains and encrustations had deteriorated the multiple layers of fabric in areas, the roof and window leaks had leached lime and plaster into the fabric – in short it was going to be a huge challenge!

As a conservator, I truly valued the historic importance of the fabrics. If they were retired, they would never be seen again. It was a long shot that money would be spent to reproduce them accurately. And while not fully proven, I believe they are original to the house and date to circa 1880-1900. In fact, the wall fabrics have not been definitively dated. (No written records were found.) One appraiser in 2002 concluded that they were a mid-century Ottoman style of embroidery and wall covering. While we can conclude that they were installed in situ circa 1914, they could have been cannibalized and cut from earlier 19th century wall coverings from Turkey. Since architect George Totten had lived and worked in Turkey, it is not inconceivable that he purchased these specifically for the ballroom. They are an extraordinary complex technique of appliqué of silk sateen cutouts (think Matisse) on top of contrasting silk sateen ground, with each large motif outlined with a cording that was stitched and glued on. The pattern, an architectural niche containing a tall bulbous ‘vase’ shapes, alternates the red and gold silk, so the eye moves along as if following a series of decorative windows. Within each ‘vase’ or ‘tree of life’ elaborate floral bouquets are embroidered in blues, pinks, yellows and reds. More than 12 genus correct floral bouquets were identified throughout the fabrics. In spite of the blackened stains, holes and losses, the fabrics were definitely worth preserving.

Inserting silk panels
It was also evident that the wall fabrics had previous repairs and restorations. There were many fine elegant stitch repairs, that may date back to the 1800s, depending on the original date of the fabrics. Coarser darnings and glue repairs were obviously later. Laid over most of the panels, and stitched like large billowing pillow-cases, was a dark brown silk crepeline (sheer silk) that was hanging in crispy tatters. This campaign was probably executed in the 1960s or early 1970s, in an effort to hold in place all the falling bits. This technique of ‘overlay’ is still employed by textile conservators. In fact, it was employed in the new 2003 treatment, but with a different material. Silk crepeline is very fragile and usually more short-lived than the artifact. Most 30 year old crepeline treatments have failed, unless they have not been exposed. Unfortunately, no previous treatment documents were available from the Embassy or other partners. My work was entirely deductive.

De-installing panels in 2003
In the initial stages of conservation research, we took down one smaller panel for examination and analysis. This permitted deconstruction and analysis of the entire construction, techniques and fabrics/materials. Some of the panels were hung with curtain rings at 6” intervals. This is similar to the technique used to hang large architectural banners in Turkey and frequently used to hang large textiles and tapestries until the 1970s (until Velcro came onto the market). Traditionally a string was woven through the rings so that the long hangings could be unfurled and hooked up easily. Construction and historic research revealed that the wall coverings are surely related and descended from an earlier Ottoman style of architectural tent hanging. Professor Dr. Nurhan Atasoy has published extensively on Ottoman Imperial Tents. While these hangings are surely not 16th - 18th century, they derive from the tradition of the interior tent decoration, in both design and construction.

Tents were used for military campaigns, state ceremonies, outings, personal ceremonies, daily housing, and of course by tribal groups. The Ottoman army had extensive tents, elaborately decorated to project power, prestige and comfort. The walls of the tents were formed by rectangular textile panels sewn together, and the number of panels depended on the size of the tent. They were crafted to recreate tiled panels in a room or pavilion. (Atasoy) Depending on rank, the tent had various degrees of decoration. Some were richly encrusted, with silks, and sparkling threads and embossed leather.


Atasoy, Nurhan. “Otag-I Humanyan: The Ottoman Imperial Tent Complex, Aygaz”, Istanbul, 2000.
Atasoy, Nurhan. “The Ottoman Tent”, www.turkishculture.org

Part two of this series will resume tomorrow on this blog.

Julia M. Brennan graduated from ARCA's International Art Crime Studies program in 2009.
www.caringfortextiles.com

November 16, 2011

Revisiting the Turkish Residence – The Ballroom’s “Ottoman style” Wall Fabrics

The Turkish Residence
By Julia M. Brennan
ARCA Washington DC Correspondent

This story is not about art theft or repatriation, rather it is a preservation account of a monumental project to conserve part of Turkey’s and Washington D.C.’s shared history.

Recently I had the honor of attending a lecture about the Perge excavations at the Turkish Residence in Washington DC. We gathered in the elegant ballroom, whose walls are covered with sumptuous arabesque and floral red and gold silk textiles. They are not just ‘wall fabric’, but architectural textiles; characterized by two-dimensional niches executed with a syncopation of color, pattern, and rich floral details. People wonder if they are painted, leather, old or new. The whole room radiates from the Ottoman-style wall fabrics. They draw you into a dance around the room, over gilt mirrors and carved doorways, the red and gold niches of red and gold silk vases, with flickers of subtle embroidery. They speak to another era and taste. In 2002, the Turkish Government launched a complete restoration of the mansion – every architectural, structural and decorative detail was addressed. I was given the contract to clean and conserve these fabric treasures. Four years later, when the renovation of the entire mansion was complete, the fabrics were reinstalled, restoring the original Ottoman-style sumptuous character to the ballroom. It was a stunning backdrop to the Perge lecture, and personally very gratifying to see the textiles beautifully restored, as they might have looked in 1914 when they first graced the ballroom.

1606 23rd Street NW was an eccentric and extravagant mansion when it was completed in 1914. Commissioned by Edward H. Everett, a Cleveland millionaire, philanthropist and industrialist, who like many barons, needed a Washington DC base for societal and political reasons. He had interests in oil, beer, and huge glass productions. Everett was the inventor of the ‘crimp’ bottle cap, made famous by Coca Cola. During the Everetts’s residency, their home was the scene for many parties, including musical events in the ballroom, “including singers from the Metropolitan Opera.” (The Sunday Star 9-9-56) His second wife, Grace Burnap, was an amateur opera singer. The house was a gem of The Gilded Age, encrusted with elaborate marquetry and parquet flooring, marble entrance hall, Mannerist paintings, Flemish tapestries, Oriental carpets, a stained glass conservatory, an Otis elevator and the first indoor swimming pool in the city. The 1915 tax assessment was $280,000. (The original building estimated that the cost of building would be $150,000.) No expense was spared.

The architectural design and interior decorations were entrusted to architect George Oakley Totten Jr (1866-1939). His international background and keen interest in architectural ornamentation, produced many lavish Embassy Row homes, combining Oriental and Occidental styles. He designed and built over 16 houses in Washington DC. Totten spent three years at the Ecole des Beaux Arts (1893-1895), lived and worked in Rome, Vienna, Madrid and London, and in 1908 resided in Turkey where he designed the American Chancery and a residence for the Prime Minister. Sultan Abdul Hamid offered him the position of ‘private architect to the Sultan of Turkey’, but the 1909 overthrow of the Sultanate ended that commission. Totten brought to his Washington projects all the elements of his exotic and romantic life, including probably the actual silk wall hangings in the ballroom. No doubt, working for the Sultan, he was exposed to the tradition of ceremonial tent hangings, exquisite Ottoman architectural textiles adorning houses and transitory encampments.

The Ballroom in 2003
In 1932, after the death of Mr. Everett, the Turkish government established their embassy at the Totten ‘palace’. The house was still pristine, and in it’s hey day, a gem of Washington ‘status’ architecture along the Massachusetts Avenue corridor. The Turks acquired the house with all the architectural and decorative décor, “buildings and furnishings” including paintings, fireplaces, wall coverings. Just after the Great Depression, the home was priced to sell. The Honorable Munir Ertegun served as the first Ambassador from the newly formed Republic of Turkey. His sons grew up in this house and in an avant garde musical environment. One of the Ambassador’s sons, Ahmet Ertegun, is known for founding Atlantic Records and signing the Rolling Stones. Given Ahmet’s charisma and love of music, he must have fallen in love with the ballroom with it’s elevated stage, Italianate windows and inset mirrors, gold and blue rinceau-panelled ceiling, carved rinceau double doors, and sumptuous gold and red silk Ottoman walls. It was an over-the-top blend of styles and textures, a perfect place to hold ground breaking jazz concerts hosting Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, and other Washington DC music greats. During the Ertegun period, the grand life of the ballroom continued with a renewed style and sound. In segregated Washington DC, local newspaper society columns at the time gossiped and criticized the frequent flow of ‘Negroes using the front door’ of the residence.

In 1999 the house became the Ambassador’s Residence, and after nearly 100 years it was suffering from both structural and decorative damage.

Reference:
“Massachusetts Avenue Architecture, Volume I”, Issued by The Commission of Fine Arts, Washington D.C. , 1973, pgs. 317-346

The next two blog posts will continue the story with the conservation of the wall fabrics.

Julia M. Brennan

November 10, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - ,,, 1 comment

Report from DC: American Friends of Turkey hosted lecture on the Sixty-Five Years of Perge Excavations

Ballroom of the Turkish Residence, Washington DC
 (Photo by Julia Brennan)
By Julia M. Brennan
ARCA Blog Washington Correspondent

The American Friends of Turkey hosted a fascinating lecture and exhibit about the excavations in Perge, Turkey last week in the elegant circa 1909 Turkish Residence in Washington DC.  The Embassy hosted a reception with delicious Turkish food, followed by the lecture. Incidentally, the ballroom of the Residence is famous for it’s post Ottoman embroidered and appliqué silk wall coverings. From 2003-2008, I cleaned, restored and then reinstalled these elegant turn of the century red and gold textiles. They create a spectacular backdrop for any function.

Celebrating 65 continuous years of archeological research, Istanbul University is touring a lecture series and photographic exhibit celebrating the fabled city of Perge, A UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also a celebration of an important recent repatriation. Dr. Inci Delemen, a long time archeologist on the project, gave a sweeping and colorful history of the sixty five years of discoveries and history of this ancient site. Using both aerial views and close ups of specific structures, we were drawn into the once vast and robust Roman city.

Perge, located close to the Mediterranean coast, near the city of Antalya, was the capital of ancient Pamphylia. It grew from the prehistoric era into a thriving Roman city. For centuries, Perge was a thriving walled metropolis; with extravagant water canal system, roads, agora, mosaic encrusted baths, gymnasium, theatre and the best preserved stadium in Asia Minor. It is a remarkable case study for Hellenistic, Imperial Roman and Late Roman history. Perge had eight significant benefactors who kept expanding the city, and developing a sophisticated urban plan. One of these benevolent priestesses was Plancia Magna, hailed as the daughter of the city. Her statue is simply beautiful.

Istanbul University has embarked on a project to resurrect the columns within the city. Each column is ‘adopted’ by a patron, contributing the funds to revive the colonnaded streets. The Theatre, which is in excellent condition, contains life size colossi statues and mythological reliefs of Dionysus making offerings to Tyche of Perge. Throughout Perge, Istanbul University has unearthed and preserved a vast number of imperial portraits and marble statues. One of the most realistic was a bearded curly haired youth, Lucius Verus.

Post of Herakles (Photo by Julia Brennan)
Another find from Perge is the Heracles Farnese or ‘Weary Heracles”. Known to many who study and follow ‘orphaned’ antiquities, the bottom half of Heracles lives in the Antalya Museum. His top half, had migrated to the USA, owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In the 1990’s the Turkish authorities set out to prove that the upper body in Boston belonged to the Perge statue. The negotiations for repatriation took over ten years. In September 2011, the Boston half of Heracles returned to meet his other half, and be reunited in the Antalya Museum. This recent repatriation is a focal part of the lecture and exhibit tour of the Perge project.

Next chapter will highlight the restoration project of the Ottoman style wall textiles at the Turkish Residence.

Dr. Delemen will tour and lecture in Boston, Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Charlottsville, Va. For more information contact American Friends of Turkey or email them at info@afot.us

Ms. Brennan graduated in 2009 from ARCA's Postgraduate Certificate Program in International Art Crime Studies.

March 6, 2011

Egyptian Conservator Dr. Hany Hanna Requests Cooperation and Vigilance in Recovery Looted Antiquities

Sphinx
You may read about Dr. Zahi Hawass' reasons for resigning as Minister of State for Antiquity Affairs on his website here.

ARCA alum Julia Brennan, a textile conservator, sent an email from England today which forwarded a message from a colleague, Dr. Hany Hanna, an Egyptian conservator, and Chief Conservator for the Division of Antiquities. "I send this message to you as Hany is clearly putting out an SOS and plea for international due diligence and assistance in the retrieval of artifacts lost during this current change and upheaval," Julia wrote.

This is the email from Dr. Hanna:
Dear Friends and colleagues, Greetings from Egypt, 
As we have cooperated in the past to work in returning the national stolen antiquities and objects from Iraq, Egypt etc. It is our time now to work hard in mentoring the market and borders…etc. for the stolen Egyptian antiquities and objects.  There is not time to waste regarding the lying of this who said in Jan 28 that “there are no lost object from Egypt such as the Egyptian Museum ”.  NOW it is our time to work. 
I appeal all our noble and honest friends in all the world to keep in mind to mentor every where and to keep our eyes open regarding the stolen Egyptian antiquities and objects, let’s cooperate as usual, all together, archaeologists, Conservators, lawyers. Officers, Journalists and media, all the organization such as INTERPOL, UNESCO, ICOM, AIC, Border Authorities, Heritage lovers Associations and Societies, NGO as well as governmental departments. This is our time to continue doing our Best for a new Well DONE. We call for the full wise accountable freedom, well-being, full respect and better life for all the Egyptian. We call for returning of the stolen Egyptian antiquities and objects. 
Best Regards,
Dr. (Mr.) / Hany Hanna (Ph. D)
- Member of Front Support of the Egyptian Revolution,
Member of the Council of Trustees of the Revolution and member of the Peer and Editing Commission on the Preparation of its Decisions
-International Expert in Conservation and Restoration.
-Chief Conservator, General Director of Conservation, Helwan, El-Saf and Atfeh Sector, Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Egypt.
- Founder & Former Coordinator for the International Council of Museum-Conservation Committee - Wood, Furniture and Lacquer (ICOM-CC- Wood, Furniture and Lacquer) (Ex elected Voluntary International position).
-Professor, Higher Institute for Coptic Studies in Cairo (voluntary work).
- Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar, Conservation and Preservation of Cultural Heritage.
- Writer, Egyptian and International Newspapers.
You may also read about Dr. Hanna's earlier status report in February on the Museum Security Network here.

February 25, 2011

Bangkok Post Features Julia Brennan in "Conservation Crusader"


Today [February 24], Bankok Post features an article on ARCA's 2009 Alum Julia Brennan in an article titled "Conservation Crusader."

The article describes Julia's upbringing in Asia and her experience in conserving textiles in Butan and Thailand for more than a decade. It also features a project she recently completed:
"... the conservation of the ceremonial robe presented by King Chulalongkorn to Phraya Cholayuth Yothin, otherwise known as Vice Admiral Andreas du Plessis de Richelieu, a Danish navy officer who became the first and only foreigner to take command of the Royal Thai Navy at the beginning of the 20th century.

The robe had been in the possession of the admiral's grandson, who put it up for auction in 2007. This was when it caught the attention of Anders Normann, the consul general of Denmark in Thailand, who hoped to return the robe to its country of origin."

The article includes an interview with Julia where she describes how to handle the conservation of this robe and the robe's current owner. Fascinating read!
Photo: Robe of Vice Admiral Andreas du Plessis de Richelieu (Bangkok Post)

December 3, 2010

Renowned Art Conservator Julia Brennan discusses her adventures in conservation and the ARCA Postgraduate Program in the Study of Art Crime


Julia Brennan is a renowned art conservator specializing in textiles. In an interview with Noah Charney, Julia discusses her international adventures in conservation, the ARCA Postgraduate Program in the Study of Art Crime, and the cleaning of The Ghent Altarpiece.
Read more at Suite101: Renowned Conservator Discusses Art, Art Crime, and Van Eyck http://www.suite101.com/content/renowned-conservator-discusses-art-art-crime-and-van-eyck-a316311#ixzz173Y2vP4B

November 3, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010 - ,, No comments

ARCA Alum Julia Brennan speaks to ICOM committee


ARCA alum Julia Brennan recently spoke at a meeting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to members of the International Council of Museums about the role of conservators in preventing looting of antiquities in the field.

Brennan, a textile conservator, and Tess Davis, Executive Director of the Lawyer’s Committee for Cultural Heritage, presented a paper, “The Role of Conservators in the Illicit Art and Antiquities Trade: Responsibilities and Opportunities,” at the Interim Meeting for the Legal Issues in Conservation Working Group, International Council of Museums, Conservation Committee, (ICOM CC LIC) on October 18.

The Legal Issues in Conservation Working Group focuses on policies affecting conservation professions and wanted to listen to people who had been in the field describe to conservators what to look for when trying to spot a looted or stolen antiquity.

Ms. Brennan, a graduate of ARCA’s Postgraduate Program in International Art Crime program in 2010, has worked in the field of textile conservation for more than 25 years. Her extensive field work in Asia and Africa has included establishing textile museums, national artifact databases, and training museum staff and monk body in the protection of cultural property. The presentation elaborated on Ms. Brennan’s thesis “Deterring the Illicit Art Trade and Preserving Cultural Heritage: Redefining the Preventative Conservation Mandate”. The talk was a call to action for the conservation community, illustrated through looting case studies, and practical solutions and changes in practice for conservators, as well as professional liability.

In the presentation, Ms. Brennan acknowledged that conservators are sometimes part of the laundering of illicit antiquities, cleaning away dirt before the objects make their way through the art market.

“The trial of Marion True was a wake up call for people in the field,” Brennan said. Coincidentally, her presentation occurred the same week that the legal case against the former curator of the Getty Museum terminated. “Here was a case that heralded a change in international attitudes about museum collecting and served as a wake-up call for encyclopedic museums to cease their cavalier and illegal practices of acquiring without sound provenance.”

According to Brennan, conservators should work to write reports on objects in line with Object ID guidelines, in case something happens to a piece later, and check with looted art databases and other organizations to determine if an object has been reported stolen.

If an object looks suspicious, conservators can contact UNESCO, INTERPOL, IFAR, customs officials, and the Art Loss Register, Brennan suggested.

“Art collectors are flocking to high-end galleries and auction houses around the world and buying billions of dollars worth of antiquities each year,” Brennan wrote. “And with the passion of the serious connoisseur, they proclaim themselves preservers of the past. This is far from the truth: most antiquities have been stolen from an archaeological site at some point in history.”

Brennan discussed the conservation codes of ethics as well as the importance of ICOM’s Red List, Object ID, the Getty’s MEGA project in Jordan, AAM’s new Standards of Acquisitions, teaching proper cataloguing, outreach, and self-education.

Ms. Brennan encouraged conservators to learn about the laws, conventions, illicit trade, auction house practices, and be pro active. “The profession most intimate with artifacts’ actual materials, whether it is paintings, ceramics, bronzes, or textiles, needs to be more forensically directed, and serve as hands-on watch dogs for the world’s cultural patrimony,” she said. “Collaborating with law enforcement, ICE, FBI, insurance companies and setting up a conservator call-list was one practical suggestion like a “conservation corps” that partners with museums and other cultural institutions.

She provided several models of cross disciplinary projects where protection of cultural property overlaps with health care, environmental protection and eco tourism.

Using the notorious 1989 Indiana based AUTOCEPHALOUS GREEK-ORTHODOX CHURCH OF CYPRUS and THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS, Plaintiffs, v. GOLDBERG & FELDMAN FINE ARTS, INC., and PEG GOLDBERG, Defendants, Ms. Brennan analyzed the case from the role of the conservator. In examining the motivations, she pointed out that the underlying theme was greed and financial gain. The destructive restoration of the mosaics (including flattening what were curved artifacts) was irreversible. She went on to discuss the expanded role of conservators in the chain of custody of antiquities and all artifacts, and the important physical material role they play in the protection of cultural heritage both in source and market countries, the field, as well as large international museums. She emphasized that conservators hold an important card in the final ethical treatment or ‘cleansing’ of illegally gained artifacts.

Washington DC-based Ms. Brennan frequently lectures to historical societies and collectors on the care and display of textiles. She currently teaches preventative conservation workshops in Thailand.