I have begun a two-week conservation project on Ossabaw Island, Georgia. The project involves a team of conservators, conservation students, and conservation interns who will assess the condition of the main house on the island and give recommendations for future care of the collection and housekeeping.
The project began on January 16th, when I flew from Delaware to Jacksonville, Florida where I first met three of the other crew members. I already knew the project coordinator, David Bayne, from a meeting over the summer at Shelburne Museum in Vermont. David became involved with the Island in the 1970’s as a director of ‘The Genesis Project’ which was a cooperative, sustainable community on the Island that operated with no electricity or running water. I was curious as to what facilities would be available when I arrived on the island, would I have hot water? It’s January, I think it is a legitimate concern.
At the Jacksonville Airport I met Abby Zoldowski, Ben Carver, and Kristin O’Connell and we continued on to Savannah to meet the other half of our group, Arial Hausman and Maggie Bearden both in the University of Delaware undergraduate program in art conservation.
After introductions the group all drove through a Savannah rain shower to the studio of Greg Guenther, a furniture conservator and maker. He gave a great tour of his studio space in a historic building where he was working on a variety of projects. We were all impressed at the table Jason Thackeray, a furniture designer and maker, was in the process of finishing. His neighbor, Michael T. O’Brien, a gilder, showed a project he was currently working on as well.
The next day we went to the store to buy provisions for the week (there are no stores on the Island) and set off on a 15-minute boat ride to Ossabaw Island. The Island is only accessible by boat and helicopter, and while the mainland is not very far away, once we arrived the sense of being far away from everything began to sink in and I felt incredibly relaxed.