Date(s) - 30/09/2011
Ripping Yarns: Traditions and Advances in the Structural Repair of Canvas Paintings
Friday 30th September 2011
Courtauld Institute Of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London
On a hot late summer’s day BAPCR chair Stuart Sanderson welcomed 150 delegates to ‘Ripping Yarns’. The morning began with the juxtaposition of traditional and modern lining treatments. Speakers presented the tales of two large, damaged, forgotten paintings required for exhibition, both paintings confronted their conservators with significant structural conservation challenges but the treatment approaches and outcomes couldn’t have been more different. The afternoon session was chaired by former BAPCR council member Patricia Smithen, Conservator of Twentieth Century Paintings at Tate. The papers presented concentrated on the future of structural conservation for both modern and old master paintings. The focus of all three papers was on innovative conservation materials and techniques for interventive treatments and preventive conservation measures. The papers were followed by a lively discussion session with delegates keen to take away new ideas and techniques.
Paste lining in the 21st century: a traditional technique brought up to date
My talk is about the changes of attitude and practice of lining and structural work over my lifetime in the profession, from the 1950s to the present day. I try to describe the principles and ideas which are the foundation of our methods and give details of our present practice. This will include our method of wet removal of old lining paste; the crucial part played by the use of sulphite tissue facing paper in all our canvas structural work in avoiding weave emphasis and to help in acquiring a surface as near to the unlined picture as possible; how a wax bag can be employed on the vacuum hot table; and how our present methods can help to avoid lining a painting unless there is a definite need for that support.
Mist lining: an introduction to the lining process and case studies
Kate Seymour and Jos van Och
The Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL) is a regional centre partially subsidised to conserve the (painted) heritage of the Province of Limburg. As a centre of excellence for the region, the studio also attracts projects from national and international institutions. Over the last two decades expertise has been developed in the treatment of damaged large and small flexible supports for painted surfaces, chief amongst which canvas paintings. Jos van Och and his team of painting conservators have refined a style of (cold) lining, termed ‘Mist Lining’, to treat these (severely) compromised paintings. The system uses the minimum amount of adhesive and pressure to achieve the desired bond required for lining and the continued sustain ability of the original support. This presentation will outline the technique of ‘Mist Lining J, emphasising the variables and nuances of the system, through a number of case studies.
Flood, flaking and fragmentation: reinstating the remains of a John Martin painting
John Martin’s epic Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum (1821) suffered such extensive structural damage following the 1928 Thames flood that it was considered destroyed. However, despite major water damage affecting all layers of the painting; extensive tears, creases and deformations; and the loss of approximately 115th of the canvas, recent examination revealed the work to be in salvageable condition. This talk will give an account of the structural aspects of this complex treatment elucidating the thought processes, decisions and problems that were encountered along the way.
The structural treatment of a large bomb-damaged painting – Paul Delaroche’s Charles I Insulted by Cromwell’s Soldiers
Delaroche’s Charles I Insulted by Cromwell’s Soldiers, a large canvas painting measuring approximately three by four metres, was heavily damaged during the London Blitz in 1941. Since that time it had remained in storage, untreated and unseen, until a recent exhibition devoted to the artist at the National Gallery, London, in 2009. The National Gallery undertook the structural conservation of the work in order to allow it to be exhibited. The picture had been stored on a roller in damp conditions and required flattening treatments as well as the repair of over 200 tears created by the bomb blast. Due to the sensitivity of the painting materials to heat, moisture and solvents it was not possible to line the painting. The picture was therefore strip lined, loose lined and re-stretched onto a new panelled stretcher. The presentation explains this treatment as well as providing a brief history of the picture.
Minimal tear repair and cast inpainting: a treatment of a damaged painting by Ed Ruscha
The treatment described in the article was devised as a response to a dramatic damage sustained by an Ed Ruscha painting. Due to the unprimed nature of the primary support and to the artist’s technique of spray-applying a dispersed non-continuous paint layer, alternative techniques of tear mending and of in-painting were needed. Absolutely minimal use of adhesive throughout the structural part of the treatment was strongly advised considering the technical and aesthetic characteristics of the painting. A dense support system of Gore-Tex sutures was used to provide the necessary strength and stability. The ensuing colour compensation method required a maximum visual resemblance to the surrounding paint layer without penetrating or altering the exposed canvas and was achieved by preparing the appropriate elements of the paint layer on a separate substrate, and subsequently affixing them onto the area of damage. Considering the visually successful results, although not yet time-tested, it seems that the methods used during the treatment were successful.
Fabrics for the twenty first century: as artists’ canvas and for the structural reinforcement of easel paintings on canvas
This talk discusses results from a recent assessment of suitable fabrics for artist canvas and for the structural reinforcement of easel paintings on canvas. Both the aesthetic and kinaesthetic, as well as physical properties of the canvas fabrics have been taken into account. To evaluate the fabrics the following properties were measured: stiffness, ultimate tensile strength, moisture response, crimp, drape and lustre. Fabrics investigated included; cotton, linen, polyester, polyamides and carbonised fibres. Although polyester has yet to match linen or cotton kinaesthetically or aesthetically, overall, it exhibits the best combination of properties. However, the results have shown that even when raw fibre material has suitable properties the finished woven fabric may not. This is because of the strong influence of the woven geometry on the final behaviour. An initial investigation into the application of adhesive and handling properties while lining was undertaken; interpretation and application of this data together with lining case studies will form the focus of this talk.
Protective and supportive backings for canvas paintings at Tate
Laura Mills and Paul Gardener
Works of art are at their most vulnerable when being moved and are constantly at risk of physical damage from shock, vibration and adverse changes in environmental conditions when being transported and handled. At Tate there is a large focus on preventive measures for the protection of canvas paintings. This talk outlines some of the methods used, including stretcher bar linings, their benefits and how to attach them. Insert panels are also discussed, with details on the methods used at Tate, how to make insert panels that will support a weak canvas, and how they can be adapted for individual paintings. Some case study examples are given. It must be remembered that each painting has its own unique requirements and the methods described should be altered accordingly. Also, these preventive measures should not be relied on alone, and the importance of other stabilizing treatments and suitable packing systems must be considered.
Chair for the morning session: Stuart Sanderson Chair for the afternoon sesion: Patricia Smithen
09.00 – 09.30 REGISTRATION
09.30 – 09.45 Introduction
09.45 – 10.15 Paste lining in the 21st century: a traditional technique brought up to date – Philip Robinson
10.15 – 10.45 Mist lining: an introduction to the lining process and case studies – Kate Seymour and Jos van Och
10.45 – 11.45 BREAK
11.45 – 12.15 Flood, flaking and fragmentation: reinstating the remains of a John Martin painting – Sarah Maisey
12.15 – 12.45 The structural treatment of a large bomb-damaged painting – Paul Delaroche’s ‘Charles I Insulted by Cromwell’s Soldiers’ – Paul Ackroyd
12.45 – 14.30 LUNCH
14.30 – 15.00 Minimal tear repair and cast inpainting, a treatment of a damaged painting by Ed Rusch – Kinga Piotrowska
15.00 – 15.30 Fabrics for the twenty first century: as artists’ canvas and for the structural reinforcement of easel paintings on canvas – Christina Young
15.30 – 16.00 Protective and supportive backings for canvas paintings at Tate – Laura Mills and Paul Gardener
16.00 – 16.45 Discussion and Close
The proceedings of the Conference were not published. The conference was reviewed in the Spring 2012 issue of ‘The Picture Restorer’
Attach document for download on materials and suppliers