Maritima is among the leading experts in the conservation and restoration of figureheads.
To Conserve or Restore. That is the question so often posed and debated.
The conservation of a figure requires the minimum of intervention, conserving what remains, rather than restoring missing or badly damaged parts. The dividing line between the two often becomes blurred, particularly with items such as figureheads, which are often not kept in closely monitored museum conditions. Reason needs to operate when considering which path to follow.
In regard to restoration, I have been carving and restoring figureheads for the past 30 years, during the course of which, I have gained invaluable knowledge as to how they were constructed, and can therefore be sympathetically taken apart, having a good idea of what rot and failures lurk within.
Many figures require the renewal of an inner core to make them structurally sound. With my carving skills this can be achieved by traditional methods rather then the often used intervention of modern chemicals. Having had such in-depth contact with so many figures, by replacing sections of rotted or missing carving, I have become well acquainted with the individual carving style of past masters such as members of the Hellyer and Dickerson families.
Such knowledge is essential in order to maintain the same feel and expressive quality inherent in the character of the original carver, by using the same tools (often of the same age) as those used originally, moving as they moved to re-create such glorious shapes.
Here are some of the figures that have been conserved or restored, illustrating some of the problems encountered. In taking on a new commission, I can generally give a reasonably accurate indication as to what work will be required and the cost involved.