Behind the scenes: The cleaning of an important Brisbane landscape


The Gallery is currently expanding the collection storage space at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) with a mezzanine development that will increase storage capacity. At the same time it is taking the opportunity to upgrade and modernise storage systems originally installed when QAG opened in 1982. The combination of the mezzanine construction and system upgrades will allow the Gallery to optimise the use of space and allow for the continued growth of the Collection.

The Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Galleries (Galleries 10-13) and the Queensland Artists’ Gallery (Gallery 14) will be used to accommodate Collection works for the duration of the project. A concentrated presentation of Australian collection highlights now fill QAG’s Gallery 5 during the project. Moving Pictures: Towards a Rehang of Australian Art includes a salon hang of Collection favourites.

Due to this construction, most of our paintings from the Australian Collection are not currently on display facilitating important conservation work to take place.

F.J. Martyn Roberts painting Evening (Mt Coot-tha from Dutton Park) 1898 is an important Brisbane landscape so we have begun a six month project carrying out a delicate conservation treatment to clean and restore this work. Due to the aging process of the upper varnish layers, and the restoration treatment that had taken place before the painting came into the Gallery’s Collection, the work requires careful removal of the aged, discoloured varnish layer and old restorations that has accumulated on the surface.




As you can see cleaning the painting with small conservation tools and gel carefully allows the removal of the upper varnish layer without disturbing the original paint layers below, thus revealing the original colours and tonality of the painting. The cleaning will take some weeks to complete, followed by the stabilisation of the paint layers – varnishing and the filling and retouching any losses in the composition.