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Subject: Conservation principles

Conservation principles

From: Robert Proctor <rproctor2>
Date: Thursday, June 29, 2006
Frank Hassard <f.hassard [at] tiscali__co__uk> writes

>A very well respected and senior member of the international
>conservation community recently stated the following:
>   "It is my belief that 'minimum-intervention' is an institutional
>    ploy to save money and to cover up a lack of skills."

Ah, "minimum intervention". One could write a treatise on this
subject and perhaps some day I will. Suffice it to say that just
about any excuse can be used to justify ones inadequacies, and
"minimum intervention" is a very convenient one. While "minimal
intervention" might be used to explain feeble or unfinished work, I
would like to propose that the term refers to the attempt to
preserve the authenticity of a valued object without unnecessary
disrupting of original materials. That it entails the reverence of
original material and the treatment of damaged areas in an isolated
manner. This approach demands a more thorough understanding of the
object in ones care, the processes by which it has become damaged
and the materials an methods available to address this damage.

As a private Painting Conservator I have found that many if not most
treatments which could be described as following this philosophy
take more time and skill, not only to perform, but also to explain
to a client  why paying more to do less is sometimes the best course
of action. Saving and reinforcing original stretchers rather than
replacing them, treating paintings on their stretchers v.s
flattening tacking margins (or removing them all together),
re-weaving a tear v.s. patching or lining a painting, retouching the
tiny tops of high point abrasion versus over glazing them are just a
few examples that come to mind.

If this "senior member of the international conservation community"
was indeed quoted accurately, I wonder if he/she would like to

Robert Proctor
Whitten and Proctor Fine Art Conservation
Houston, TX

                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:2
                   Distributed: Monday, July 3, 2006
                        Message Id: cdl-20-2-006
Received on Thursday, 29 June, 2006

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