About the event:

The BAPCR (British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers) is pleased to announce their forthcoming conference in January 2020: ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ in Conservation.

It is not unusual, in the course of conservation, for new and unexpected discoveries about a painting to be made, sometimes uncovering material aspects which are atypical to an artist or period. The conservator, by virtue of his/her experience and prolonged proximity to the painting, is ideally placed to make this kind of observation. It could be the case of an unorthodox support or priming, or the surprising use of a pigment, medium, or coating. Or, it may become apparent that a painting has been compromised by non-original materials, coatings or additions applied by an earlier conservator/restorer. Some discoveries have significant art historical and ethical implications, whilst also presenting considerable conservation challenges.

Technical analysis frequently plays an important role in these situations, especially in a museum setting. Imaging techniques, and most recently scanning XRF mapping, might help to reveal and explain the presence of unexpected layers, or reveal changes in composition and artists’ reworkings. Scientific analysis can likewise help to characterise the materials involved and inform conservation treatments.

Conservation treatments (strategies, materials and equipment) might need to be refined, or completely rethought, in the light of discoveries about unusual materials or a previous restoration. Collaboration with art historians, heritage professionals, stakeholders or even the artists themselves may be invaluable in arriving at appropriate ethical decisions.

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