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Bringing relief to Sefton Park’s monuments

13 June 2008 by Sam

Conservation Technologies are probably best known for the cutting edge work they do using laser technology to clean and replicate sculpture and other precious objects. However for their latest major commission they will mainly be using traditional techniques to hand sculpt missing elements of Sefton Park’s monuments.

The memorials to William Rathbone and the Right Honourable Samuel Smith in Sefton Park both originally had four bronze relief sculptures on their bases. Over time the some of the bronze reliefs have been damaged and three of them have gone missing. The only record of the missing bronzes is a small black and white photo of each, so Conservation Technologies will be recreating them from scratch using these pictures as a guide.

The first stage of this process involves sculpting master models of the replicas in clay. As they are quite large pieces the process involved is quite a feat of engineering. The amount of clay used to provide the master models weighs a ton (literally) in weight, so special frames have been built to support that amount of wet clay and then enclose the finished pieces in order to transport them safely to the foundry for casting. The frames are shown below; the first is empty, the second has wooden supports in place to support the clay and the third has a layer of clay in place already.

As this is such a large and ambitious project two members of the team will be working to recreate the missing reliefs. Christopher Dean will be sculpting the two larger pieces, while Sam Sportun works on the third smaller bronze.

You can see further photographs in our Sefton Park monuments Flickr slideshow, which we’ll be adding to over the next few weeks. At the moment there are also photographs of the damaged bronze relief of ‘Charity’ from the base of the memorial to William Rathbone, showing where the arm of a woman kneeling at the front has been broken off. This will be replaced as part of the conservation process.

We’ll be bringing you updates as this ambitious project progresses, so watch this space.

Large wooden frame on easels in studio space

The specially built wooden frames in the sculpture conservation studio

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