The marble statue depicting Venus and Cupid at Cranford Countryside Park suffered serious damage during a fire and was feared to be irreparable. The burnt statue had fractured in many pieces due to the rapid drop in temperature from being doused in water. Cliveden Conservation Norfolk Workshop was contacted to assess the remains.
Summary of conservation work carried out
All the pieces were collected, carefully catalogued and cleaned. The conservation team then carried out initial assessments and analytical works. They needed to see if all the major parts were present and assess the best method of reconstruction. Friable powdered pieces of marble were consolidated using thermoplastic resin prior to drilling.
Working from the base up all the large pieces were reconstructed using stainless steel threaded dowel pins of varying diameters bound in polyester resin. It was necessary to use a lifting gantry to hold the strapped sections in place whilst being attached and laser levels to ensure the accurate location of the dowel pins.
Using the same resin, the team rejoined a majority of the smaller pieces but found that some were so badly damaged that they could not be used. Therefore, conservators remodelled the losses using a unique mix with added pigment and stone dust to imitate the granular finish of the marble.
During the fire, Cupid had also lost his nose so the team modelled a replacement in clay. The replica nose was cast in plaster using the same mix. Venus had also lost her nose prior to the fire but it was decided not to remodel this for historical accuracy.
The statue had inconsistency of colour due to the deep fire damage.
Poultices of solvents removed much of the soot blackening. The client required some of the plaster fills to be toned down but others to remain visible to highlight the restoration; now a huge part of the statue’s history and another important chapter in the survival
of Cranford Country Park.
The London Borough of Hillingdon initiated the campaign and funding for the restoration as part of their commitment to preserving historical artefacts for future generations to enjoy. They are delighted about the return of the Venus and Cupid statue to Hillingdon.
The London Borough of Hillingdon