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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

Changing Images

by Cheryl Harrison
Pacific Conservators

History includes changes. In art, each painting has its own history and character. Changes can originate from sources beyond the effects of materials and techniques, environment, handling, transit or storage. Changes to an artwork may result from prior repairs by amateurs.

Castle Towers, before

Castle Towers, after

Newfoundland Cottage, before

Newfoundland Cottage, after

Antiquated repairs, inadequate reconstruction of missing areas, and a limited knowledge of painting techniques can create significant alterations to artwork. Prior repairs may include overpainting, which is later applied paint that covers the original painting. Unskilled and distractive repairs can obscure a painter’s style or original intention.

Castle Towers, a landscape painted by Jock Macdonald, was visually altered by prior repairs. Examination of the artwork detected overpainting extending along the horizon, and included a cloud that was not original. An area of the painting had been subjected to water, resulting in lifting paint. Earlier repairs were limited to repeated applications of overpaint and fillers to this fragile area.

The conservation treatment of this painting included cleaning to remove engrained dirt, a pearlescent streaky varnish, overpaint and excessive fillings. Stabilization with an adhesive attended to the lifting paint. Only minor areas of paint loss were found beneath the changes made to the painting’s image, and these were minimally filled and inpainted employing museum standards.

Robert Pilot painted Newfoundland Cottage, in 1938. A large shady tree dominates the front garden and the overall composition. The painting technique used for this tree differs from the rest of the painting, and it has a muddy, dark appearance. Examination determined that the tree was not original. As the painting was cleaned and the overpaint removed, more of the cottage was uncovered and in the garden a large cross with a statuary tombeau came into view. Originally, this parish or habitant cottage had the cross as a benediction or family memorial. These changes to the composition were deliberately made to obscure the religious emblems.

Conservation treatment retrieved the original composition of both paintings. Castle Towers regained its sense of expansive and monumental space. Pilot’s Newfoundland Cottage had its regional and historical imagery rediscovered. When visual imagery is altered, our perception of an artist’s work, the painted narratives and the history it represents is distorted. Changes affect our history.

For more information visit the FACTS (Fine Art Care and Treatment Standards) website at www.artfacts.org.

Previously: Preserving a Rare Record
Next Issue: Cleaning a Large Joe Average Quilt

 Fri, Apr 6, 2007