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Conservation Corner

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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

Graffiti and Public Art

by Nadine Power

Before cleaning, Japanese-Canadian Fishermen's Memorial, Wind by Junichiro Iwase

Before cleaning, Japanese-Canadian Fishermen's Memorial, Wind by Junichiro Iwase

Is there anything more annoying or unsightly than unwanted graffiti tags? Public art is constantly the target of vandalism, and graffiti adds to the problem. It often destroys artwork or, at the very least, imposes a clean-up burden on already tightly squeezed public maintenance budgets.

While harm prevention is always the best method of preservation, once an artwork has been tagged, quick response is essential. Here are my three steps to reducing harm to artwork from vandalism and graffiti.

Locate the work carefully

While no public place is entirely safe from vandalism, install artworks in well-lit, public spaces where vandals will be deterred. Works placed in open spaces such as public squares, along busy roads or near well-patronized buildings are at decreased risk for vandalism. Works placed in areas that encourage loitering, such as parks, are often targets at night when the area becomes dark.

After graffiti removal

After graffiti removal

Use protective coatings on the work

Commercial “anti-graffiti” coatings can be especially useful for protecting artworks such as public murals and stone monuments. They add a protective barrier between the artwork surface and any unwanted graffiti and are a cost-effective way to protect artworks. While not appropriate for all materials, they are often well suited to painted or porous surfaces, such as stone or concrete, which can be difficult to clean once they have been tagged. Coatings were previously made from polyurethane, but new ones on the market are made from polysaccharides and are removable with hot water, adding to the ease of graffiti removal. Consider consulting a conservator or the original artist before applying a coating, as it is important to ensure compatibility with the surface.

Act quickly to remove graffiti or other types of vandalism

Quick action has a twofold effect. First graffiti attracts additional graffiti. So, the more quickly tags are removed, the less likely a work will become a frequent target. Second, spray paint dries very quickly and becomes more difficult to remove the longer it is allowed to set.

Several options are available for cleaning graffiti. These include doing the job yourself, using a commercial graffiti removal product (these work best within the first day) or hiring a graffiti removal company or art conservator. Whichever approach you choose, aim to remove tags within the first 48 hours of damage.

Previously: Conservation Treatment of a Chewed Papier-Mâché Sculpture
Next issue: The APHA conference on the history of colour printing


 Sat, Jun 7, 2014