Cleaning Ian Fairweather’s ‘Head’ c.1955

The cleaning of paintings is a fascinating subject. Changes in approaches to conservation practice mean that cleaning now often involves varnish removal. Traditional conservation practice commonly involves removing an old discoloured varnish from a paint layer and the changes are often visually dramatic. Natural resin varnishes such as dammar and mastic turn yellow over time,…

Couriers and Condition Reports: Matisse comes to Brisbane

Welcome to another behind the scenes glimpse of how an exhibition like ‘Matisse: Drawing Life’ is brought together. You may not see the conservation section at work during your visit to the Gallery, but we’re always there looking out for the wellbeing of the art works. For an exhibition like ‘Matisse: Drawing Life’ our practical…

Touring Ron Mueck’s ‘In bed’ is a monumental affair

The conservator’s public image is most likely of someone cleaning an old painting with a cotton wool swab, in a studio with classical music playing. However, art conservation — particularly contemporary art conservation — calls for an innovative and creative approach to the unique challenges presented by contemporary display preparation. Preparing fragile and complex art…

Secrets under Damask

A recent restoration was undertaken over four weeks to a parlour setting from c.1880 – 90s in the Gallery’s Collection, comprising a settee, two grandfather chairs and a grandmother chair. The setting is significant because it was constructed in Queensland from Silky ash (Ehretia acuminata), a native deciduous tree. My role as Conservation Framer is…

Totally tapa: Installing Ngatu tā’uli 2011

Tapa cloths are usually much smaller than Ngatu tā’uli  2011. Its size required a specialised installation technique and system that could address its unique properties and needs. Following on from our previous post, conservation staff were key additions to the large team installing the Ngatu tā’uli 2011 tapa for ‘Threads: Contemporary Textiles and the Social…

Totally tapa: Conservation of Ngatu tā’uli

Conservation staff regularly devise unique solutions and techniques to allow large contemporary art works to be safely and elegantly displayed. Here is an insight into the behind-the-scenes work that went towards successfully displaying one of the special acquisitions for GOMA’s 5th Birthday celebrations. The arrival of the tapa was greatly anticipated, not only due to…