Monday February 10 2020
In March 2019 we were delighted to have been successful in our funding bid to the Association of Independent Museums Conservation Grant Scheme. The funding was to complete much needed repairs on Birds amongst foliage a unique, appliqued wall hanging by the artist Doris Schrecker, which was located in the drawing room of the House. The funding allowed the textile conservation team at Norfolk Museum Service (Conservation by Design) to complete much needed repairs on the piece.
The main problem was the deterioration of the pale green fine silk used for the leaves, many of which were only visible as outlines and any remaining fabric was fragmentary. The lining also had several large holes and was too tight causing the edges to roll back and the lower edge to buckle.
Work was carried out in the summer by conservator Deborah Phipps who surfaced cleared the front and back of the hanging and released the overtight lining. The missing leaf elements were also replaced with silk fabric and all loose motifs were secured following original stitch patterns. A slightly larger silk lining was applied over the top of the original and a small window was cut in the top corner to expose the reverse of the artist’s initials.
Whilst the piece was undergoing repairs we decided delve into the archive to find out more about the artist. We came across correspondence from Doris and her husband Bruno Schrecker to Britten and Pears. The letters suggest that they were friends and had visited Britten and Pears in Aldeburgh.
Pears had commissioned Birds amongst foliage directly with her, and had sent materials and wallpaper as guidance. Her work was also displayed at the Aldeburgh Festival in 1962 in an exhibition called ‘Collages and Constructions’, alongside other artists such as Britten’s friend and collaborator, John Piper.
Their lives were connected by music too; her husband was a cellist from the Allegri String Quartet.
Birds amongst foliage has now returned and can be seen again in all its finery in the drawing room.