Conserving Carleton Attwood’s bust of Alfred Williams
The conservation department have recently undertaken the conservation treatment of a bust of Alfred Williams.
Owned by the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery the bust has links to two prominent Swindonian artists. The bust is of Alfred Williams who worked for Great Western Railway in Swindon for many years. In his spare time he looked to improve his knowledge learning languages including Latin and Greek, reading the classics and learning about the natural world around him. He started writing in his early twenties and published a number of works, both poetry and prose, throughout his lifetime leading to him becoming known as ‘the hammerman poet’.
The creator of the bust is Swindonian artist Carleton Attwood. Although Attwood worked in many more traditional materials, this bust is made from moulded concrete. Some of his other well known public commissions are “Golden Lion” in Regent Street and “The Watchers” at Toothill Village Centre.
The conservation of the object has been undertaken to improve the condition of the bust so that it can be placed on display. Over the years a layer of dust and dirt had built up on the surface of the bust, as well as it being subjected to graffiti in the past.
The bust was cleaned with a steam cleaning technique to remove the dirt layer and graffiti. Reconstruction of the broken areas was completed so that these areas no longer distracted the viewers eye and to prevent further deterioration in these areas. Finally a protective coating was applied to help protect the bust for future generations.
The bust is now on display in the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery’s Made in Swindon Gallery.
Gabrielle Flexer, Conservator