Uncovering the Adelaide Corridor

Through the generosity of a second grant from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, paper conservator Amy Junker Heslip has been able to continue her investigations into the Adelaide wallpaper at the Royal Pavilion and the Chinese Wallpaper held there.

During her survey of the Chinese wallpaper collection (more about this to follow in a separate post), she came across an intriguing roll of paper, wrapped carefully in archival paper in the wallpaper store.

Adelaide Corridor Chinese Paper
Adelaide Corridor Chinese Paper

As you can see, when opened up it was labelled: Adelaide Corridor Chinese Paper. Damaged and overlined with brown paper. Removed from Saloon Bottle 3.5.95. HW’

As described in the label, the wallpaper was carefully unrolled to reveal that it was covered (‘faced’) with a heavy brown paper. It appears that this had been glued to the front of the wallpaper to protect it when rolled and stored.

Adelaide Corridor Chinese Paper
Adelaide Corridor Chinese Paper

Due to the very heavy facing there was no way of knowing what was to be found under the paper, if anything at all. There was a chance that this would be too water damaged or too many pigment losses to be worth spending the treatment time to conserve this.

Amy proposed removing a small area of the facing paper as a test to see what was beneath. The first areas to be removed showed a heavy yellow varnish on top of the Chinese paper below. This was an exciting discovery as we know that a varnish was applied to all of the Adelaide corridor at some point in the 19th Century and was not removed until the 1960s on the paper in situ in the corridor. This tells us that this paper was certainly part of the Adelaide corridor installation and removed prior to 1960s.

Amy widened her test area into a small rectangle to and as she did so a small face appeared. It was an exciting discovery and a joy to bring these figures back to life after over 60 years of being kept in the dark.

Facing paper carefully removed with light application of deionised water.
Facing paper carefully removed with light application of deionised water.

A full conservation treatment will now be planned for this roll and Amy will be sure to update us as the reveal continues.

Varnish lightly swabbed with solvent to further reveal the faces below.
Varnish lightly swabbed with solvent to further reveal the faces below.

Discover More

Amy Junker Heslip, Paper Conservator

With support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

With support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

 

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Stephen Musgrave

    I am really delighted to read about this discovery and the commitment to further conservation. I grew up alongside the wallpaper in the Adelaide Corridor as my father was Clifford Musgrave, Director of the Royal Pavilion Estate and we lived in the flat, now the tea rooms and corridor.
    I was always intrigued by the fantastic Chinese landscapes depicted in the wallpaper and I am so pleased they are now the subject of scholarly interest.
    I think postcards were available at one time of views taken from the wallpaper: it would be really good if they could be made available again perhaps with some larger reproductions.

  2. Amy Junker Heslip

    Hello Stephen and thank you so much for your kind comments.
    Through the funding I received from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art I have been able to get some really great photography done of this wallpaper and this will all be available to look at on our website very soon. You will be able to look close up at, and zoom in on, all of the amazing details in the paper.
    Living in the Pavilion must have been a wonderful experience. May I ask if the stories are true that bicycles were ridden up and down this corridor or if this is just a Pavilion legend?!

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