CBC Radio One Whitehorse: Al Foster interiews Valery Monahan on Yukon Seasons Restoration




(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)
Text:
Al Foster, CBC Reporter
Dirty, moldy and yellow.

Yukon Conservator, Valery Monahan is restoring a large antler sculpture. It was stolen from the Canada Games Centre more than a year ago. Last April it was anonymously returned to the RCMP.

No for the last four months it has undergone a bit of a facelift.

Here to give us an update is Valery Monahan. How's our sculpture looking now?
Valery Monahan, Conservator, Museums Unit, Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon
Well, I think it's looking a lot better. I'm not exactly finished with the repair work. I haven't reattached the broken section.

But I have been doing a lot of work to reduce the mold and just to make it look more coherent. A lot of the mold and dirt turned out to be loose, so it came off really easily and I've been able to reduce a lot of the stains.


Al Foster, CBC Reporter
I was going to ask you, how challenging was it to remove the mold?

Valery Monahan, Conservator, Museums Unit, Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon
Well, it turned out to be, for the most part, way easier than I was expecting. As it turned out, a lot of the moldy areas were over areas that still has a high polish and a lot of the material brushed off. There's still a tiny bit of stain underneath some of the areas that looked moldy, but I really was concerned that when I brushed it there would be really black staining underneath. But in most cases that wasn't the case. So it actually looked a lot better a lot quicker than I thought it was going to.

Al Foster, CBC Reporter
So to that, are we going to be able to restore this piece to its original condition, do you think?

Valery Monahan, Conservator, Museums Unit, Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon
No, it's not possible that it would be in its original condition. It's changed. It has, essentially, aged in some ways. Its overall tone is never going to be the same, the light creamy colour that it was. In many ways, it just looks like it's gone through an aging process more quickly than it would have.

These pieces are organic and they never stay the same colour throughout their lives anyway. But what I have been doing is to create a more coherent appearance, so that when you look at it your eyes aren't immediately drawn to black stains. You see a nice, light coloured piece and you can admire the incredible, intricate carving, which is the whole point of the piece.

Al Foster, CBC Reporter
Have you been keeping Shane Wilson up to date on how things are going?

Valery Monahan, Conservator, Museums Unit, Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon
Oh yes, I've been e-mailing with him and also he has been seeing some images: details, befores and afters on some of the most stained areas, so he definitely has an idea of how much it has changed.

Al Foster, CBC Reporter
Now normally you work with bone and that type of thing, things a little less intricate. What's this been like for you to work on such an intricate, delicate piece?

Valery Monahan, Conservator, Museums Unit, Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon
Well, I do actually work sometimes on some very fragile small objects. This one is just a combination of really fragile and really large.

I have a large standing microscope, the kind that's used for cleaning your teeth or surgery, and that's been very helpful for me so I can really control my cleaning action.

But getting it in between the moose antlers safely and being able to use it to see all the places I needed to see has been a bit of a challenge. There have been times when the moose antler tines of this moose skull and rack have had little bumpers of foam over the tips so that as I carefully guided my microscope through them there would be no bumping.

You have to work very carefully, sometimes the treatment work can be a little bit like yoga. You have to not move then stop and think about where you go next so that you don't bang into things. And that's been fun.

Al Foster, CBC Reporter
Well, fascinating stuff and we really appreciate you taking some time this morning, thank you!

Valery Monahan is a conservator with the Yukon Government. She is restoring the large moose skull carving called "Yukon Seasons" by artist Shane Wilson.


Bookmark and Share