Consulting, Preparatory, and Administrative Services
Survey and condition reporting
A condition report involves the physical examination of an object and a written assessment of its current condition, including recommendations for conservation treatment and future care. The report takes into account materials and methods of construction, any past and current damages, and the environmental conditions under which it is currently held. Condition reports can be done singly or small groups of objects, and surveys can be carried out on larger collections. This helps to provide an overview of the current condition of the collection as a whole and helps to identify those works most in need of urgent attention and to prioritise treatment needs. Condition reports and surveys are not limited to museum and institutional holdings and are used in the residential and commercial sector as well. Although we specialise in paintings, reports can also be prepared for other objects, such as statues, works on paper, photographs, textiles, furniture, etc.
Preventive conservation and environmental monitoring
The goal of preventive conservation and environmental monitoring is to anticipate and limit the potential for damage to art objects. This includes ensuring that objects are properly framed and/or housed and making suggestions as to their care, handling, and the possibilities for regulating the environment in which they’re displayed. This, of course, takes into account the needs, resources and lifestyle (for residential properties) of the owner. Humidity, temperature, housekeeping procedures, and exposure to light are but a few of the seemingly innocuous but potentially very damaging mechanisms affecting objects, and addressing these concerns before the damage occurs helps to limit its impact and prevent recently conserved objects from falling back into a state of disrepair.
Preparing and securing works for packing and/or storage
Before, during, and after transporting works between locations presents one of the greatest opportunities for damage to objects. It is vital that works are properly prepared and shipped to minimise risk, and prevent extant damage from becoming worse. Should it be necessary to store objects for any length of time, it is equally important that they are properly prepared and stored in a way that will not cause or exacerbate damage.
Emergency stabilisation and consultation in cases of recent damage
The period immediately following damage to an object is critical to mitigating the long-term effects of damage, and proper handling and stabilisation of the area in question can help ensure the greater effectiveness of conservation treatment and its stability. Quick action on the part of the owner, insurance company, or responsible body in consultation with a conservator is beneficial not just for the object, but can help control costs by preventing the damage from spreading to other areas and triggering the formation of additional problems. For instance, the stabilisation of a tear in a canvas painting as soon as is possible following damage can limit adjacent paint loss and cracking, prevent more widespread deformations from forming in the canvas plane, and leads to a better mending of the torn canvas.
Conservation and Treatment
Dust, dirt, insect debris, nicotine, smoke/soot, stains, and environmental pollutants are but a few of the many substances that accumulate on the surface of paintings. This layer is not only disfiguring and visually disturbing, but contributes to the degradation of the painting by bonding to the varnish layer, making it more difficult to remove, and by permanently staining unvarnished paintings. Surface cleaning is not only the first step in all paintings conservation treatments, but can sometimes provide a dramatic improvement in a painting’s appearance when performed on its own.
Varnish removal and re-varnishing
A painting’s protective varnish layer can suffer greatly with time: natural resin varnishes discolour and obscure the painting, exposure to moisture can cause blanching and other surface defects in the varnish, and exposure to heat or chemicals can blister and deform the layer. These conditions can be remedied using a variety of approaches, thus restoring the painting’s main purpose: aesthetic appreciation of its colours, composition, and subject.
Consolidation of flaking, cupped, and cracked paint and ground layers
The stability of a painting’s ground (the layer used to prepare the canvas or panel for painting) and paint layer is one of the most important factors in a painting’s survival. These layers can be widely affected by problems of adhesion and deformation (caused either by damage or natural ageing) and securing and flattening areas of flaking, cupping, and cracking is an essential treatment for affected paintings.
Filling and retouching areas of lost paint
Areas of lost ground and paint can be filled and retouched to repair damage and restore continuity to the painted surface. This is done using reversible, conservation grade materials only on areas of loss, taking care to not overpaint original, undamaged paint.
Tear and hole repair
Tears in a canvas painting can be mended, filled, and retouched (where necessary) to restore integrity to the canvas plane and allow for proper tensioning. In areas of complete loss, canvas inserts are used to fill the hole and provide a base for filling and retouching.
Structural repair on canvas and panel paintings
As with the ground and paint layers, stability in a painting’s canvas or panel support is of the utmost importance. Slack canvas tension, buckled deformations, draws, splits, warping, and other structural issues can be addressed and repaired to prevent further damage and ensure a painting’s survival.
Remediation of insect and fungal attack
Mold, woodworm, and other biological forms of attack can cause significant and severe damage throughout a painting’s support, ground, paint, and varnish layers. Unchecked, this can lead to permanent damage, which can be repaired, but biological attack is most effectively treated as soon as it is identified. This has the additional benefit of preventing its spread throughout the rest of the house, collection, etc.
Proper framing and basic frame repair
Paintings are frequently damaged by old, improper methods of framing, and weak or damaged frames can negatively impact the paintings themselves. Methods of basic repair and simple re-framing can affect a dramatic improvement in a painting’s condition and help prevent damage during handling and hanging.