ARTRIGHT is a project established to promote professional practice and business acumen in the South African visual arts community.

Art Restoration and Conservation

Content donated by Ernest Bellingan

Art Restoration is the work of repairing damage to artworks & bringing them as close to their original condition as possible. Modern restoration & conservation practice adheres to the principle of reversibility, which dictates that treatments should not cause permanent alteration to the object

All artworks age & therefore change their appearance in the course of time, this affects the whole artwork down to its support [ paper or canvas ] as well as the pigment, all of which can damage the  artwork. Works can get damaged in various ways but almost all damage can be fixed to some degree.

Paper & paintings get damaged through basic environmental conditions [ smoking, direct sunlight, moisture , heat , dust etc ] Pictures also get damaged by water, mold, bad framing, fires, tears etc.

Most of the process is chemically treating & cleaning the artwork with slow precision & patience to bring the work back to a stable & good condition.

The value of art will decrease when damage occurs & through Restoration & Conservation the value will increase & be brought back to its original estimate depending on the damage. Restoration & Conservation is the Maintenance and preservation of works of art, their protection from future damage, deterioration, or neglect, and the repair or renovation of works that have deteriorated or been damaged. 

  • A typical "watercolour challenge", with an extensive
  • selection of fox-marks, some causing acidic fading of blues
  • The sky looking good again after routine chemical treatment, 
  • with the foxing gone the colour comes back to life.
  • This "Jazz Band" sketch had begun to crumble and rot 
  • away  stored in a damp garage. Multiple moulds and 
  • very weak.
  • Careful treatment lightened and sterilised the paper. 
  • Liquid paper pulp was used to fill missing it was 
  • fumigated to kill all spores.