Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney engaged O’Sullivan Conservation to treat the bronze ‘Venus’ fountain located in the Main Pond at Farm Cove. The fountain’s location presented a unique challenge, requiring water access and implementing measures to protect the surrounding pond which constitutes a living ecosystem, notable inhabitants include inquisitive long-finned eels and mullet. A temporary exclusion zone was therefore established onshore, a specially designed raft was used to access the work, and a spotter was positioned within the exclusion zone to provide assistance to the conservator undertaking the work from the raft. Further information about sculptures at the Gardens can be found on their website: https://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/learn/living-learning/primary-school-resources/garden-art/sculpture-at-the-gardens.
Prior to conservation the work was carefully photo documented and condition assessed. The fountain was then thoroughly pressure-washed to remove the significant buildup of guano deposited by the resident seabirds; a secondary hand clean and rinse was then performed. During the cleaning process the use of detergents was avoided in order to minimize disruption to the pond’s aquatic life. Following cleaning, areas of active corrosion were mechanically and chemically treated, and a corrosion inhibitor was brush-applied. The bronze was then gently heated and coated with a protective microcrystalline wax. Once cool the fountain was given an overall buff, and casting flaws and smaller holes in the bronze were filled with pigmented wax.
Following treatment, a full report was provided to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, detailing the conservation treatment performed and including recommendations for future care and maintenance.