I thought it was time to post a couple of photos as we partially assembled the Croll last week. This is just temporary, as we needed to check the fit and best assembly method of some of the components before lacquering. Many of the decorative elements were not added, but it's still exciting. When the Croll arrived at West Dean it was already partially dismantled, so although this picture is missing four large figures from the base, two pairs of putti operating telegraph machines, six fishtailed putti holding a garland of gilded telegraph cable and fifty-nine semi-precious cabochon stones, this is the closest I have seen the object to its complete form. Assembling the Croll also allowed us to take measurements and profiles to help with the design of a specially-constructed travelling crate to take the piece back to London next month. This is probably the first time it has been at its full height of 115cm in many years.
It's been a while since I wrote anything about the Croll Testimonial, mostly because since full-scale treatment of the object began I have had time for little else. The Croll seems to have taken up my every waking moment and, indeed, some of my sleeping ones. Despite throwing up a few new challenges and minor setbacks the project is progressing well and the object is almost ready for final re-assembly.
I have not been acting alone. Since work began in earnest on this project, I have had an amazing team of willing helpers in the form of six other Graduate and Postgraduate Diploma metals conservation students. I have never had to head a team working on an object before and I'm enjoying it far more than I thought I would. Despite the stresses of keeping everyone informed, happy, and busy, dealing with problems as they arise, coordinating multiple ongoing processes and carrying out my own workload, having a team around me is proving to be a positive experience. The rest of the team have helped me to stay motivated, supported me at stressful moments and, best of all, changed the rate of progress on the object from a snail's pace to leaps and bounds. There is still plenty of work to be done but the end is in sight and I am looking forward to seeing the Croll in all its gilded, polished, frosted, engraved, bejewelled and utterly extravagant glory.
The Croll Testimonial will be on public display in the upcoming exhibition 'Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker: 850 years of London Livery Company Treasures' at the Guildhall Art Gallery from June 22nd until September 23rd.