Hoovering the Gods

One by one, each object must be removed, observed and cleaned. Each is then replaced in precisely the same position. All is done with great attention and care. Then on to the altars, inscription stones and the gods. The statues are cleaned with fine sable brush in hand and a hoover. Slowly. Methodically. This is done every winter across the English Heritage museums. Led by the head conservator and curator of Roman collections, volunteers don latex gloves and backpack vacuum cleaners and set about the task of removing the thin gauze of dust that had accumulated throughout the year. The reverential ritualised attending mirrors the attention paid when the objects were made and again remade in the context of worship and offering. It is no longer religion that guides our interaction with the object, it is conservation science. We must keep the objects free from all that would degrade them, keep them in a state of stasis, preserving them for next generation.

Along with the photographs, I captured sound and video which will be imbedded into my intervention at Chesters Museum. I also took the dust and the latex gloves. Those will be numbered, catalogued and placed in my archive to be installed in Birdoswald Museum.