Did you see some work being done on our monuments this summer? Did you know that each year the Economic Development and Tourism Department leads conservation and restoration efforts for the City’s invaluable Public Art collection? Public art is often at risk of damage by the environment and/or human interaction with the pieces. Specifically, factors that affect the City’s bronze monuments include humidity, UV light, acid rain, poor water drainage, proximity to city streets, and public use.
In 2020, conservation and restoration of the Joseph Brant Monument in Victoria Park and the Boer War Memorial in Jubilee Terrace Park was completed. The Economic Development and Tourism Department retained the services of Conservation of Sculptures, Monuments & Objects (CSMO) to complete the preventative conservation and restoration of the Joseph Brant Monument and Toronto Art Restoration Inc. (TARI) to restore damaged components of the Boer War Memorial.
In June 2020, CSMO carried out conservation and restoration work on the Joseph Brant Monument. The monument is composed of granite and bronze, with a limestone and lead letter dedication tablet at the base of the south-facing façade, and a bronze rededication plaque on the east side of the memorial.
The monument, limestone tablet, lead letters, and rededication plaque were gently pressure-washed and cleaned with a non-ionic detergent and rinsed with water. This aided in the reduction of accumulated dirt, salts and pollution. Paint splash graffiti was removed, and the old wax and surface grime on the bronzes were thoroughly cleaned. The monument stones were further cleaned and minor staining was removed.
Each bronze sculpture and relief was heated, and a custom paste wax blend was applied by brush. The wax blend serves to saturate the pores of the bronze surface, providing a uniform finish and protecting the bronze from exterior influences such as salt, rain, pollution, etc.
In August 2020, TARI carried out conservation and restoration work on the Boer War Memorial. Prior to treatment, white incrustations from grouting material runoffs were present below the bronze panels along the horizontal mortar joints all around the monument. The surface of the monument was covered with an overall layer of environmental soiling and insect webbing. Yellow or light brown staining was visible on the lower part of the monument, especially on the two faces closest to vehicle traffic. This was the result of corrosion products from the metal components and fasteners being washed down and penetrating the stone matrix below and/or atmospheric soiling. There were localized areas of black biological growth, especially where the surface was protected from direct sunlight.
Friable areas of granite with noted spalling, cracking, and losses were consolidated using a conservation grade stone consolidant consisting of dispersion of calcium hydroxide nano-particles in ethanol.
Following the stabilization of the stone, the entire monument was cleaned by hand with nylon brushes, water, and a non-ionic detergent. Cracks in the monument were filled using a lime-based injection grout compatible with the granite stone and the consolidant used. Larger losses in the stone and pointing mortar were compensated with a specialized conservation grade single-component mortar.
We are proud of our history and vision for the future. Brantford's Public Art Collection reflects some of our community's most important people, places and stories. You can learn more about the City of Brantford’s Public Art Collection on the City website.