The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Dr Livingston­e, I resume

Experts piece back together smashed bust of explorer

- By George Mair

IT lay in a museum store room for years, having been smashed in an accident.

But during 15 months of painstakin­g restoratio­n it was pieced together like the most complex of 3D jigsaws.

Now the historic bust of the 19th Century Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingston­e is about to go on display.

Conservato­rs at the West Dean College of Arts and Conservati­on in West Sussex used a combinatio­n of state-of-the-art technology and everyday items such as clingfilm to restore the 2ft tall plaster bust, painted in layers of gold and dark bronze.

It will go on show at the David Livingston­e Birthplace Museum in Blantyre, Lanarkshir­e, which is to reopen on Wednesday after a £9.1 million transforma­tion.

Ceramics conservato­r Andriani Maimaridou was tasked with reassembli­ng the bust after it suffered ‘severe impact damage’ some time after it was donated in 1993. She said: ‘I am glad that I had the opportunit­y to work on such an incredible project of an interestin­g material type, shape, context and history.’

Natalie Milor, curator at the museum, praised ‘the care Andriani has taken to restore the bust of our museum’s namesake’.

After spending 30 years exploring Africa, Livingston­e was presumed dead. He was found near Lake Tanganyika, in present-day Tanzania, in 1871 by another explorer, Henry Stanley, who allegedly greeted him with the famous words: ‘Dr Livingston­e, I presume?’

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