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Seeing in Different Ways: A Liz Magor Backpack Project
Seeing in Different Ways:
A Liz Magor Backpack Project

Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 2)

Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)
Why Paper Discolours (Part 1)

Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum
Mending a Tear in an Aboriginal Drum

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)
Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 3)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 2)

Distortions and Dimensional Changes
in Paper (Part 1)

After treatment
Oscar Cahén: Innovative Conservation
for an Innovative Artist

Rigid Water Gels: New Treatment Options for Paper Conservators

Structural Remedies for Canvas Paintings

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 4: Digital-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 3: Photo-based Material

Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 2: Paper-based Material

First Steps
Organizing and Preserving Collections - Part 1: The First Steps

Natural Dyes
The Use of Natural Dyes in Textile Conservation

A Relocation Project

Challenges of Preserving Contemporary Artwork

Preserve Your Investment through Art Conservation

A Project Completed: Heritage Preserved

Old and New Methods for Cleaning Paintings

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I? Part 2

I Can See Clearly Now – Or Can I?

The E.J. Hughes Mural: An Expanded Project

Is She or Is She Not an Emily

Treating Art with Sensitive Media

Malaspina Mural: An Update

For the Artist: Testing Your Materials

Conservator as Art Historian

Alum Sizing and the Art of W.J. Phillips

Treatment of an Elizabeth Keith Wood Block Print

Structural Treatment of an Emily Carr

The Treatment of a Monumental Wall Hanging

Changing Images

Preserving a Rare Record

Gold Leaf: Imitation and Genuine

The Case Against Canvas Backings

Heritage Colours: Research Discovers Original Colours

Lighting Your Art: Balancing Seeing and Protecting

The Double-Sided Emily Carr Painting

Choosing a Period Picture Frame

How to Identify a Picture Frame

Stretching Canvas and Restretching Artwork

Mounting Textiles

Aging Paintings:
Some Causes and Effects

Chine Collé Prints

What's Your Favourite Color?

Backing Removals

Rips, Holes and Tears

Filling in the Gaps

DIY – Preventative Care of Paintings

Frame it Right

Fire, Water and Smoke-Damaged Paintings

Inherent Vice

Saturated Problems:
A Water-Damaged Painting

Moldy Paper

Conserving Time

Conserving Paper: Dos and Don'ts

Repair of Textiles

Conserving Wood

Rescuing Endangered Murals

Repairing Acid-Matte Burn

Art Services & Materials
Exhibition Openings & Events

Conservation Corner Back

The murals before treatment

The murals before treatment. Each mural is 30 x 10 feet and spans the full height and width of the east and west walls of the theatre lobby. Showing is the east wall.

Theatres of the World: the conservation of two murals
in the Simon Fraser University Theatre – Part 1

by Nadine Power
Fine Art Conservator

The full-scale renovation of the Simon Fraser University Theatre (designed by Erickson/Massey) began in 2011 and included conservation treatment of the two large murals installed in its lobby. Painted by Chicago artist Buell Mullen (1901-1986), the murals were created during the original construction of the theatre in 1964. The colourful abstract patterns are made with epoxy resin applied to stainless steel panels, with minerals such as jade, gold nuggets and quartz used as collage elements. Much of the stainless steel support was left bare by the artist, allowing the reflective qualities of the metal to mirror light and movement back into the room.

Corrosion and paint loss

Corrosion and paint loss due to water damage.

After studying at the Royal Academy in London and with Petrucci and Lipinsky in Rome, Buell Mullen became the first artist to use epoxy paint as a medium on metal – a technique which brought her considerable fame during her lifetime. According to Mullen, the theme of her Theatres of the World murals references theatres from ancient Greek, Egyptian, Indian and other civilizations.

Once the steel panels were affixed to the theatre walls, they were polished with an abrasive implement to give the surface an abstract, semi-circular pattern in selected areas. Mullen also used a sharp tool to score the under-drawing of her design and texture the surface. She then painted between the scored areas with epoxy resin. In co-operation with members of the SFU Department of Chemistry, analysis of the paint media through Nuclear Magnetic Resonance technology confirmed epoxy as the paint media.

Overall, the works remained in fair condition. Water leaks had caused trails of corrosion and water damage was attributed to the considerable areas of paint loss and staining. Many years worth of tobacco smoke, fingerprints and general grime caked the surface, but most disturbing was the loss of many collage elements – picked off by the public over the years. The damage noted is typical for public murals, especially for those in theatres and in other busy spaces. Scratches and dirt were most concentrated in the bottom halves where furniture had been pushed up against them; where people had leaned on them; and where food and drink flung from careless hands were most likely to land. The conservation treatment, to be discussed in Part 2 of this series, attempted to remove all dirt and corrosion, repair the paint layers and restore the collage elements to their original settings.

Previously: Rigid Water Gels: new treatment options for paper conservators
Next issue: Theatres of the World: the conservation of two murals in the Simon Fraser University Theatre, Part 2.

Grime and drip mark

Grime and drip marks.

Grime and drip mark

West wall mural before treatment


 Mon, May 28, 2012