By Bob Entwistle, Senior Conservation Officer
Originally published in the Friends of Ipswich Museums Summer 2018 Newsletter
We have five small figures in the lab, reputedly carved by Constable. They are said to represent the five best singers in the East Bergholt choir. The figures are nicely carved and painted but have suffered over the years.
The glass cover was broken, the figures were dirty and had suffered from mould. One figure was broken and others had arms missing. The figures were carefully brushed and vacuumed. Their clothes are made of painted paper, and these were dry cleaned with smoke sponge and groom stick.
I made small casts of the arms in plasticine and cast new arms in plaster to replace those missing. The figures were retouched in water colour to tone down missing areas and scratches, and the detached figure was re-attached with plaster to its stand just like the others. New glass was cut to replace the broken bits. The cover had to be carefully reconstructed with brown gummed paper which was painted to match the original.
They look a bit continental to me. However they are very detailed and the woman and one of the men hold what could be hymn books or papers. Come to the exhibition and make up your own minds.
You will be able to see the figures in the exhibition when it opens on 24 November.