"Yukon Seasons" Prerestoration 1 - by Valery Monahan, Conservator, Museums Unit Cultural Services Branch, Tourism and Culture, Government of Yukon Whitehorse, Yukon

I'm the conservator Laurel Parry asked to look at the Yukon Seasons sculpture after the RCMP returned it to the Arts Branch. I am in the process of doing up a condition report and some recommendations. I hope you don't mind my asking you some questions about it.

'Yukon Seasons, 2003' by Shane Wilson - Prerestoration (moose antler skull sculpture)

First of all, I want to say that it is just gorgeous! And, as you have undoubtedly heard, it is in (I think) remarkably good shape considering its ordeal. One section of tine was broken off, during the robbery, apparently and the very tips of the moose's jaw (where it originally rested on the base) look a bit abraded/cracked. That is the extent of structural damage. I think it's quite minimal for an object that combines fragility with weight and which would be tricky to transport, even when not being stolen.

'Yukon Seasons, 2003' by Shane Wilson - Prerestoration (moose antler skull sculpture)

The piece seems quite a bit darker than it was originally, however. Most of my questions relate to this. It has been suggested that it was exposed to cigarette or wood smoke over the winter, but I actually don't believe this was the case. There is no smell of either substance associated with the piece and it is not particularly dusty ... wood stoves and people (smokers or not) produce lots of fine dust. It did come back with some debris on it. That debris included old spruce needles and a bit of mouse scat. I actually wonder if it was stored outside, and/or in an outbuilding and if the darkening relates to some combination of light exposure, microbial growth and exposure to high humidity or even standing water.

'Yukon Seasons, 2003' by Shane Wilson - Prerestoration (moose antler skull sculpture)

Do you normally process the skulls and antlers yourself prior to carving, or does some else normally do them for you? I'm curious to know about how the skull and rack were initially cleaned and if they were coated at any point during your work (and with what, if anything). I'm trying to figure out if some of the darkening is the response of a coating, or remnant grease/oils to months spent in a new and very different environment. Also, was the piece originally glued to its mount? If so, what adhesive do you normally use?

'Yukon Seasons, 2003' by Shane Wilson - Prerestoration (moose antler skull sculpture)

Here are some images of the sculpture. Please keep in mind that these were taken in a badly lit room. I took the first ones when the sculpture was still "bagged" from the RCMP. The one showing the mold is one of the worst spots ... which is why I took the shot. Very little of the sculpture's surface is speckled in this way.

Valery
(moose antler skull carving, moose antler skull sculpture)

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