KK Art and Conservation and Harper and Allan Masonry complete restoration of Forres War Memorial on behalf of Moray Council
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A LOCAL dedication to soldiers lost at war has been given a makeover as part of a Moray-wide restoration project.
Moray Council has invested £15,000 in the revamp of the War Memorial at St Catherine’s Road, Forres, painstakingly carried out over the last six weeks by Karolina Allan of Mosstowie-based KK Art and Conservation.
She said: “I feel honoured to have undertaken this work. At the start, it can feel a bit daunting to undertake such long projects but they are reflection-evoking and rewarding.”
She added: “It was a pleasure to meet members of the community here, especially the volunteers who look after the flower displays and memorial surrounds year-after-year.”
The local authority has an annual programme of maintenance for war memorials across Moray.
A spokesperson explained: “Our priority is to ensure that they are safe and, as such, much work has been carried out to maintain structures. The current programme is working to maintain bronze features, which this year includes Forres.”
Mrs Allan confirmed most of Moray’s memorials were last restored around 40 years ago - she believes Forres was last done in 1990.
She said: “My work is challenging but very rewarding. To honour the past and prepare, I spend time researching each memorial. I talk with local people and often come across moving stories. I like to study each author’s style and work out the original colour of the patina. After tests and trials, I undertake individually tailored conservation plans.”
After her detailed assessment, Mrs Allan’s conservation work on the Forres War Memorial entailed: removing dirt and superficial paint/lacquer; removing corrosion; applying patina; filling in cracks and holes; applying a protective lacquer and microcrystalline wax; and finally, polishing.
“Every step was carefully considered and recorded,” said Mrs Allan. “The statue should now be maintained by cleaning with specialist soap and re-waxing every two to three years.”
Mrs Allan is a qualified conservator with diverse experience in Scotland and abroad who specialises in stone and bronze conservation.
She added: “I work on Pictish stones, stone statues, grave slabs, mercat crosses and fine architectural details on historic buildings including castles.”
She established her company in 2010 and has since been responsible for: conservation and displays in Thurso Museum, Tullich Kirkyard and Old Ballater Train Station; restoration of a marble statue, memorial and sundials in Fraserburgh, Drumnadrochit and Ellon; and advising the National Trust for Scotland on the condition and care of historic buildings ... Amongst many other projects.
She added: “I worked on a collection of bronzes in Wilton Lodge Park, Hawick in 2014, Keith War Memorial in 2019, bronze plaques throughout Aberdeenshire, Dufftown War Memorial last year and Buckie War Memorial earlier this year.”
Mrs Allan’s husband Andrew’s firm, Harper and Allan Masonry, was appointed by Moray Council to undertake the conservation of bronze war memorials across the region. Mr Allan sets up the sites, scaffolding, and helps complete the first stage of restoration - cleaning with ThermaTech.
“Every memorial is different,” said Mrs Allan. “So the approach is customised for each project.”