Joel Ngallametta is a senior Kungu elder of, and custodian for, the Wanam ceremonial group from Aurukun on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, Far North Queensland. He is best known for creating law poles, and is a song man, dancer, and singer. Thap Yonk 1 is a three-panel artwork created using ochres, oxides, and synthetic polymer paint on primed canvas.
The artwork was in poor condition when initially inspected on site. There was a layer of light surface dirt and some fluff that had been trapped in the texture of the artwork. There were several areas of cracking paint, particularly along the edges where the canvas presses against the wooden strainer. Some paint flakes had dislodged and layers of paint were tenting. A small indent was present in the centre of the middle panel. Major loss of media had occurred, particularly on the left panel and specifically of the lighter off-white colour. A small tear through the canvas was present in the lower middle section on the right-hand panel. There was bowing to all three canvases.
First, the unstable paint media was consolidated and weighed down with small weights. Once the surface was stable enough, a light surface clean of the recto and verso was completed using a brush vacuum. Further consolidation of unstable paint media was undertaken wherever possible, and the dislodged pieces of paint were repositioned into the original locations. Losses were infilled with a mixture of putty and pigments to match surrounding primer and texture. The tear was realigned where possible and re-adhered and reinforced. The fills were retouched with the dry pigments and, in some areas, wet pigments as a first layer, where the dry pigments were not bonding with the surface.
A conservation grade corflute backing board was applied to the verso of each panel. The hanging devices were replaced.
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