Antony Gormley’s piece, ‘Sick’ had been in storage in a timber crate in what was discovered to be a leaking store in Dublin. On opening the case prior to an exhibition, the curators discovered that it was covered with a layer of lead corrosion, due to a combination of damp and off-gassing from the timber. Scratched graffiti had become more pronounced because the lead corrosion had built up in the scratches. The figure had been resting on ‘Plastazote’ pads, but even the conservation grade packing material had off-gassed and caused black staining.
Hall Conservation Ltd quickly established a rapport with Antony Gormley and through discussion with him, a treatment was determined; the surface was gently cleaned using fine abrasives to remove the corrosion and cut down through the scratched graffiti and then patinated, leaving a surface indistinguishable from rolled lead sheet.
On display, the figure is attached to the gallery wall and the same type of fixings were made and fitted a new, purpose made case. The case is timber, but slatted to allow air circulation while providing protection in transit, but for storage, the top, front and sides are removable to optimise air circulation and allow for ease of inspection.