Sunday, 21 February 2016

Return to Dino Island: Iguanadon Restoration

I was shocked when I saw how much 'Iggy' had deteriorated, when I returned there little more than a year after my first visit to the island. It was mid November last year, and thankfully the much needed restoration was finally under way. Cracks, which I hadn't previously noticed, were now an inch or more wide, and the separate plates which make up the beast's structure, were slowly pulling themselves apart. The restoration team, from Cliveden Conservation, was lead by Nick Richardson, who used to live a stone's throw from the park, so was already familiar with the dinosaurs. His work at Cliveden for the last 20 odd years has focused on repair of statuary, and architectural projects, such as repairing a floor in St. Paul's Cathedral. I'm interested to note however that, he originally studied Archaeology and Fine Art, and later worked as a wildlife illustrator. The iguanadon project sounds like the perfect culmination of all his skills and experience.
As well as a jolly good scrub, the conservation work was designed to stabilise the structure, by means of inserting large metal pins, which in effect staple the pieces of the dinosaur together along the cracks. Once this element was complete, the cracks could then be filled with material to match the rest of the dinosaur's surface. Various sample panels of scales were made up, and then new sections were fabricated to replace lost or damaged areas. The tail needed to be reattached, and extensive dental work was also required.
As work progressed, it not only captivated the locals, but also reached the notice of the BBC, who sent down Gyles Brandreth accompanied by a camera crew to film a segment for The One Show, including an interview with Ellinor Michel of The Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs.
I have to confess to being mildly alarmed when Iggy's new greenish hue emerged, along with her brilliant white pedicure, as I'd always assumed the dinosaurs were unpainted. It seems that years of weathering had just turned them a stone colour, and on closer inspection, patches of green can still be seen on the other dinosaurs. Iggy now stands proud, and hopefully fit to survive for many more years. I imagine her siblings on the island are eagerly awaiting their own makeover.

Mid November

An unearthed fragment showing the more garish colour that the designers had been painted in the 1950s.

A few days later

BBC Camerawoman, Jude, doing some pre-filming for The One Show.

A week later

Mid December

Going in!
In the belly of the beast

Each leg is constructed around an iron column.

January 12th 2016, job complete.

Nick Richardson in front of the restored Iguanadon.