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The Falconer, by Tom Bass (1955) – University of New South Wales

2020
Douglas Annand Mosaic UNSW restoration after treatment

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The Falconer was commissioned in 1953 to grace the façade of UNSW’s inaugural building, a symbol of the institution’s artistic vision and forward-thinking journey into the future. The sculpture holds the distinction of being the first work of art acquired by the University and was carefully envisioned by Vice-Chancellor Philip Baxter to represent his view of the University as ‘a forward-thinking institution which aimed to educate the full human being’.

Tom Bass executed the sculpture in his workshop over the course of two years, using clay as a base over which copper was electrolytically deposited. The finished artwork, delicately thin at 3 – 4 mm, yet towering at over 14 metres in height, is affixed to the building wall with precision engineered steel fixings. The sculpture was installed in 1955 at the end of construction, prior to the Main Building’s opening.

O’Sullivan Conservation (OSC) was engaged by UNSW in 2020 to undertake a conservation treatment on The Falconer. Though the sculpture was structurally stable, it was visually incohesive, with blue and green patina in areas where the protective wax coating had depleted. A layer of surface dirt, contaminants and cobwebs was present overall, with a high concentration of cobwebs on the reverse and dust and debris in areas where water has pooled. There was also a distortion to the falcon’s eye and beak.

Access to the sculpture was gained using an elevated work platform, and a full condition assessment was carried out. The conservation treatment scope included a hand wash of the sculpture, as well as a comprehensive conservation treatment including a thorough clean, heating and removal of the degraded wax coating, mechanical and chemical corrosion treatments, application of a corrosion inhibitor and hot waxing. Additionally, the wax deposits on the sandstone cladding were removed mechanically, and a biocide was applied to the sandstone to inhibit further biological growth.

For more insights into The Falconer and UNSW’s significant Public Art collection, explore:
UNSW Public Art on Campus

 

BEFORE
Douglas Annand mosaic UNSW conservation before treatment
Douglas Annand Mosaic UNSW conservation over paint removal
Conservation colour matching mosaic tiles
Douglas Annand mosaic UNSW Dalton Building during restoration
DURING
Douglas Annand mosaic UNSW conservation after treatment
Douglas Annand UNSW Dalton Building after conservation
Douglas Annand UNSW Dalton Building after conservation
Douglas Annand Mosaic UNSW restoration after treatment
Douglas Annand UNSW mosaic conservation after treatment
AFTER
Douglas Annand mosaic UNSW conservation after treatment
Douglas Annand UNSW mosaic conservation after treatment
Douglas Annand Mosaic UNSW restoration after treatment

Have a question?

O'Sullivan Conservation we provide expert conservation and preservation services that maintain and sustain cultural heritage. If you have a question about a project, give us a call on 0419 380 065 or alternatively fill out the enquiry form and we will get back to you promptly.

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O’Sullivan Conservation acknowledges that we operate and function on the lands of the Darkinjung people.

We respect and honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on this land and commit to building a brighter future together.

We are proud partners of Reconciliation NSW and support reconciliation in our community.