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Subject: Exhibition on art, science, and conservation

Exhibition on art, science, and conservation

From: Janice Passafiume <janacon>
Date: Monday, February 12, 2001
Art Meets Science

The exhibition "Art Meets Science An Investigative Look at
Conservation" opened last Wednesday at the Frederick Horsman Varley
Art Gallery of Markham, north of Toronto, Ontario, and continues
until March 25th. It addresses the very principles of why
conservation is necessary, if not vital and walks the viewer through
the process of observation, recognition and response.

A broad variety of both unique and common topics are presented and
are represented by an actual artwork, explicit text and vividly
illustrated prints. There are approximately 46 stations with
examples that include paintings, works on paper, archival documents,
photographs, artifacts, a frame, and a textile. Historic, modern,
European and North American works summarize the universality of the
preservation problem. Solutions and recommendations are offered for
many of the problems.

There are 6 Ontario institutions involved, the Canadian Conservation
Institute, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the McMichael Canadian Art
Collection, the University of Toronto Art Centre, the City of
Toronto Archives and the Royal Ontario Museum, along with the Varley
Gallery. Sharon Gaum-Kuchar, the director/curator along with a small
staff, Brian Barnes, Doriana Cabeceras and Katerina Atanassova
co-ordinated all aspects of the project from display, editing,
programming, transportation, brochure, poster, communication and
mailings. Janice Passafiume, from JANA Conservation, Toronto,
Ontario was the conservator responsible for the compiling, text,
organization of institutions and treatment of all privately owned
artwork. They have been working on this project for 4 years.


    The Varley Gallery
    216 Main Street
    North off #7 between Warden and Kennedy Road.
    Fax: 905-477-6629


    "The Private Collector and the Public Institution"

        Professor Sheila Campbell, Curator of the Malcove
        Collection, University of Toronto Art Centre, will discuss
        the problems and pleasures of being a private collector.
        Private consultations accepted. Date to be rescheduled.

    "Fakes, Frauds, Forgeries and other Funny Stories"

        Aaron Milrad, distinguished Toronto-based lawyer, art
        collector and lecturer will share entertaining aspects of
        his many years of legal experience in relation to fakes,
        frauds and forgeries. Thursday March 1, 7-8

    Art Conservation Emergency Walk-in Clinic

        15 selected conservators will be available to members of the
        public for one-on-one preliminary conservation assessments
        of artwork from personal collections. Seven stations will
        also be set up with demonstrations of everything from
        packing materials to inpainting techniques. The workshop was
        organized by Jennifer Cheney.

Sunday March 4, 1-4

    Meet the Conservator

        Conservators from different specialties will be available in
        the gallery spaces to give tours and answer questions.

    The Collector's Day Organized by the Ontario Association of Art

        Art enthusiasts and collectors will enjoy this afternoon
        session on contemporary Canadian art, corporate collections
        and caring for your artwork. Speakers are Richard Rhodes,
        editor for Canadian Art Magazine and Janice Passafiume, JANA

The free brochure includes highlights from the exhibition, a
glossary of terms and prevention tips.

The exhibition was designed to bring awareness of the profession to
the general public and appeal to all ages, occupations and
nationalities. We would like to carry this further. Queries and
comments are invited. Please address them to Janice Passafiume at
janacon [at] home__com.

The exhibition is organized into two sections: The introductory
panel, also reproduced in the brochure, presents an overview of the
thought process, giving clues how to observe and assess problems.
The viewer is encouraged to "don your symbolic lab coat and prepare
to examine the works of art". History, Manufacture, Alterations, Art
Historical Research and Environment set the stage. There are a few
visual details of works seen later, which present a problem and ask,
"What is Happening?"

The Deterioration Process (Section 1): The fundamental basics for
the preservation of artwork are displayed visually with direct
examples and beautiful artwork. Humidity, Lighting, Chemical
Contamination, Pollution, Biological Damages, Physical Damages and
Inherent Damages are the main topics. These are the highlights:


    *   Daniel Fowler (etching) shows vivid foxing and cockling from
        humidity damage.

    *   An Italian unknown depicting Mary Queen of Scots (oil on
        panel) shows a warped support.

    *   Two bronze finial vessels suffer from bronze disease.

    Biological Damages

    *   Mary Beale (conte drawing) shows the separated backing
        board, also containing an image, which was worm-infested.
        Treated by Karen Colby at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

    *   An archival deed shows a beautiful purple mold pattern.

    *   Winershaw painted a beautiful Impressionist portrait that
        had 239 wormholes in the stretcher and canvas.


    *   Alex Colville (ink) shows the original ink colour from under
        the mat on a faded ink drawing of his wife, June.

    *   Thomas Brown (watercolour) shows a photomicrograph of the
        decaying watercolour from light damage.

    *   Kirchner (woodcut) shows an example of dark light-staining
        of poor quality lignin paper.

    *   A silk Chinese wall hanging shows evidence of extreme light
        fading. Prepared by Shannon Elliot, Royal Ontario Museum

    *   Charles Comfort, shows a drawing successfully treated for
        light damage. Treated by John O'Neill, Art Gallery of

Chemical Contamination

    *   Veal (lithograph) shows staining from a wood backing board

    *   Andy Warhol's signed soup can shows the leaking of tomato
        soup and the staining of the label, presenting a biological

    *   Emily Carr (sketchbook), in its original state with staining
        and tape the small book draws attention to the need to keep
        the artifact intact while addressing the complex issue of
        mixed materials

    *   Arthur Lismer (sketch of Humberside murals) retains the
        historical fingerprints and coffee stains in this working
        drawing of the famous Humberside murals. Treated by Linda
        Sutherland at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

    *   Frederick Varley (drawing) has been rematted to show its
        prominent matburn.

Inherent Damages

    *   An Inuit work (felt pen on Japanese paper) shows image
        transfer of this fugitive media from another artwork

    *   Berthon (painting) shows the typical cracking pattern caused
        by additives in British 19th century painting.

    *   Two Group of Seven painters, Thomson and Lismer (oil on
        panel) show partially removed yellowed varnish. Thomson
        treated by Catherine Stewart at the McMichael Canadian Art

    *   A Button display shows cellulose nitrate vapor contamination
        and illustrates the ongoing materials studies at the Royal
        Ontario Museum. Prepared by Helen Coxon, Royal Ontario


    *   Lyman, (oil on canvas) shows how pollution deposited a thick
        layer of dirt, in the partially cleaned before treatment
        photo. Treated by Catherine Stewart at the McMichael
        Canadian Art Collection.

    *   Kate Hepburn (signed gelatin emulsion photograph) shows how
        oxide fading and staining have given her a beard.

Physical Damages

    *   Carmichael (oil on canvas) shows the damages that have
        occurred from rolling a canvas and a successful treatment by
        Catherine Stewart, McMichael Canadian Collection.

    *   An archival record of a land surveyors map was found in a
        dismal state and was treated by Holly Evers, City of Toronto

    *   An example of a gilded frame shows the stages of repair.
        Prepared by Jennifer Cheney.

    *   An unknown painting of a British 19th century family shows a
        hole caused from shrapnel during WWII. Partially treated by
        Tammy Flynn Seybold at JANA Conservation.

The Tools of Discovery Section 2 introduces many of the specific
analytical  scientific methods.

    *   A newly discovered painting by A.Y. Jackson, "Venezia"
        displays the x-ray showing a portrait below. This painting
        was researched and presented at a Canadian Association for
        Conservation annual meeting in Montreal. (The inter ground
        layer suggests a later date that what is written on the

    *   A forged painting originally attributed to Titian shows a
        photomicrograph of a new signature that was previously
        overpainted. The autofluorescence photo shows broad
        overpaint and thinning of the varnish.

    *   A painting by Frederick H. Varley, "Liberation", traces the
        problem and solution through a series of photos for the
        treatment of the gallery's "signature" artwork. The painting
        was previously wax/resin lined and had a delamination
        problem that created severe distortion and cracking. The
        techniques of X-ray and ultraviolet are illustrated. This is
        the same wax/resin recipe used on Picasso's Guernica and
        posed similar problems.

    *   A painting from the circle of Angelica Kauffman, (originally
        considered to be a Guido Reni) depicts a recognizable model
        in other works by Angelica and exhibits similarities in
        technique to her sketches for larger paintings. Ultraviolet
        photography shows heavy overpainting in the lower border
        suggesting the piece was originally larger.

    *   A painting by Paul Peel, "Children in a Garden" shows by
        cross-section analysis and x-ray revealing how it was
        discovered and that the children were painted over a varnish

    *   A torn painting by Fred Varley, "Reclining Kathy" shows how
        ultraviolet does not always detect overpaint and that one
        must rely on several aspects of analysis, including x-ray.

    *   An unfinished painting shows the process of filling and
        inpainting. The ultraviolet photo shows a slide of two
        different signatures- one can only be seen in visible and
        not uv and the other can only be seen in uv and not visible

    *   A sixteenth century European painting, newly treated, shows
        how the identification of pigments can aid in dating.

    *   Radiographs were taken at the Art Gallery of Ontario by
        Ralph Ingleton.

    *   Cross-sections, pigment analysis and the autofluorescence
        photograph were carried out at the Canadian Conservation in
        the Analytical Scientific department under Ian Wainwright
        and including Jane Sirois, Kate Helwig and Marie

    *   The photomicrograph of the "Titian" was taken with the help
        of Catherine Stewart at the McMichael Canadian Art

All research and treatments were carried out at JANA Conservation
unless otherwise stated.

The exhibition was designed to bring awareness of the profession to
the general public and appeal to all ages, occupations and
nationalities. We would like to carry this further. Queries and
comments are invited. Please address them to Janice Passafiume at
janacon [at] home__com

An exert from the exhibition opening remarks by Janice Passafiume:

   "Anyone involved in conservation knows it is a hard sell. The
    profession requires 6 years of university, unpaid internships,
    diversified and highly skilled backgrounds to emerge with
    uncertain job prospects. We are faced with the challenge of
    convincing people they should invest money in their heritage
    now, when benefits will not likely be seen for many generations
    to come. Conservators practice for the future. Just like
    holistic medicine, we have to appeal to the growing population
    who prefer preventive exercise and careful diet to heart
    surgery. Maybe 2% of the general population wants to keep hold
    of their heritage and pass it on. The other 98% will fix it when
    it breaks, if at all. This exhibition is about a message and I
    hope it rings and vibrates all around the world. Save it now or
    pay the consequences later."

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:45
                 Distributed: Friday, February 16, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-14-45-018
Received on Monday, 12 February, 2001

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