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44SUMMER 2012PEOPLE?They depict hunting scenes in a forest that looksEuropean, though it shelters some exotic wildlife,such as parrots and monkeys. There are somecharming details, including a goat whose eyesappear to follow you as you walk past - always a hitwith children. Over the centuries, the tapestries'once-brilliant colours have faded and their fabric hasdeteriorated.But they remain a treasure and their future hasnow been safeguarded following months of effort bythe volunteers, supervised by Alison and with overalldirection from Sophie Younger, a specialist textileconservator. Alison is also advised by Trustconservators, such as Julie Bon and Clare Meredith,and by curator Ian Gow, who sometimes comes tospeak to the group on topics designed to help andinspire them. The six heavy tapestries at Falkland had beenhanging by metal press-studs, many of which hadbecome disengaged, and they were in danger offalling down. Each tapestry was removed - withadded muscle from the palace's gardening team -and 10cm-wide strips of Velcro were attached inorder to distribute the weight more evenly.The conservation volunteers removed dust anddirt from the tapestries using special vacuumcleaners. They then used curved needles to sew onscarcely visible fine-meshed netting to supportdamaged areas where the silk had deteriorated,exposing the warp thread. To secure the netting,patches were attached to the reverse side.Julie Bon explains: "The work that has been doneshould last at least 10 years and it has beeninvaluable. The idea that light was damaging wasnot fully understood in the past, but it is now, andwe are taking action to keep that damage to aminimum."To slow further deterioration, there is now filmover the windows facing the tapestries, whichcompletely cuts out ultra-violet light. The curtainson these windows, which are shut when the palaceis closed to visitors, have had blackout linings madeby the volunteers to increase the protection further.A telemetric environmental monitoring system, asused in about 25 Trust properties, records the lightlevel every 30 minutes, and a dosimeter, featuring asmall patch of blue wool that fades at a known rate,provides further information.While visitors enjoy the tapestries, the team whoseefforts are helping to preserve them are hard at workback at their base at Hill of Tarvit, just 10 milesaway. In the Patrons' Room, a bright first-floor"I'm alwaysmakingclothes forpeople, and I used to doshop windowdressing, so I love thiswork, andAlison is abrilliantteacher"Ann Miller

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