Posts written by Melanie Carlisle

The Conservation of Poedua – Part 14

  • Detail of the same area as above after the new fill material has been added.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, © Te Papa.
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  • Overall image after the new fills have been added to the losses in the paint layer.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, © Te Papa.
  • Overall image showing the complete clean - all surface dirt, varnish and old restorations have been removed.  The damages and deterioration in the paint layer are exposed.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, © Te Papa.

  We have had a very busy start to 2012, we have been working to have Poedua ready for display in March and preparing a number of paintings for the upcoming touring exhibition Angels and Aristocrats. After the painting was re-stretched following the structural treatment, the old restorations including overpaint and old fills were removed. … Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua – Part 13

  • Katherine and I restretching the canvas and attaching the strip lining canvas at the back with staples. Photograph taken by Drew Ward, 2011. © Te Papa.
  • The repaired join after the wooden insert has been attached. Photograph by Melanie Carlisle, 2011. © Te Papa.
  • A small section of the stretcher surrounding the damage was removed using chisels.  Photograph taken by James Kirk, 2011.  © Te Papa.
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The varnish removal is finally complete!  The detail of the brushwork in the Poedua’s face and hair have been revealed and we are one step closer to getting this painting ready for display. During the varnish removal we discovered a damage on the stretcher which meant that we needed to take the canvas off the… Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua – Part 10

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  • The topmost label once the paper remnants had been removed revealing 36.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011.  © Te Papa
  • During the removal process. This image shows the paper label coated with a layer of methyl cellulose.  The Mylar on top ensures the methyl cellulose does not 'dry-up'.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011. © Te Papa
  • The painting on the easel in the Paintings Conservation lab.  You can see some areas where the varnish has been removed; the sky to the right of Poedua's arm and square patches in the tapa cloth.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011.  © Te Papa

Hello everyone, we are back with our fortnightly updates on the treatment of John Webber’s Poedua. We are progressing slowing with the cleaning of the painting.  At this stage, the cleaning involves the varnish removal and the removal of overpaints (later additions by a previous restorer). Today’s blog post will focus on one stage of… Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua – Part 7

  • The same area after the varnish has been removed.  Photograph taken by Katherine Campbell, 2011.  © Te Papa
  • Melanie cleaning a small test area in the drapery.  Photograph taken by Katherine Campbell, 2011. © Te Papa
  • More varnish removal test areas.  The white hazy areas on some spots are caused by varnish residues remaining on the surface.  This occurs when the solution does not work effectively at removing the entire varnish layer.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011. © Te Papa.
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In the paintings conservation lab, we have been working away steadily on the varnish removal of Poedua.  Every now-and-then we come across a painting where this stage of the treatment is relatively easy, where a simple organic solvent solution is effective in removing the varnish without any effect to any part of the underlying paint… Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua: Part 5

  • The painting after the surface cleaning.  The varnish layer still hides the true colours and tones, but already we see a great improvement.  Photograph by Melanie Carlisle, 2011. © Te Papa.
  • Katherine works cleaning the top left corner.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011.  © Te Papa.
  • The cleaning is almost there!  The top left of this detail is all that remains of the surface dirt layer.  Photograph taken by Melanie Carlisle, 2011. © Te Papa.
  • Cleaning progressed from right to left.  In this detail the difference between the dirty and the cleaned sections is distinct.  Photograph taken by Katherine Campbell, 2011.  © Te Papa.

In our last post we discussed the process of testing to identify the most appropriate cleaning solution to remove the surface dirt layer from the painting. After finding the best cleaning solution for the painting the surface cleaning can begin, but we always carefully monitor our progress to ensure that the cleaning solution is working… Read more »

The Conservation of Poedua – Part 3

  • In the centre of this photo the canvas has a grey appearance where it is yet to be cleaned.  The P of Poedua has been cleaned and is clearer and easier to read.  Photograph by Katherine Campbell, 2011. © Te Papa
  • As I hold the painting, Katherine uses a palette knife to gently dislodge dust and debris caught between the stretcher member and the canvas.  A pile of dust can be seen on the table top.  Photograph by Matthew O'Reilly, 2011. © Te Papa
  • Katherine cleaning the reverse of the canvas
  • Dusting the reverse of the canvas with a brush and indirect vacuum.  Photograph taken by Katherine Campbell, 2011. © Te Papa

After completing our technical examination of the painting, taking lots of pre-treatment photographs and writing the condition report, we write a treatment proposal for the painting.  We consider the current condition of the painting and what we would like to achieve with different treatments.  Our proposal is discussed with the curator and together we outline… Read more »

The conservation of Poedua – part 1

  • Ultra-violet photograph of Poedua, 2011, Photograph by Melanie Carlisle © Te Papa
  • Ultra-violet photograph of the painting, 2011, Photograph by Melanie Carlisle. © Te Papa
  • Infrared photograph - detail, 2011, Photograph by Michael Hall. MA_I227737. © Te Papa
  • Katherine examining the painting with a hand-held microscope

Welcome to the first blog to keep you up-to-date with the conservation treatment of John Webber’s portrait of Poedua.  Katherine Campbell and I, the two paintings conservators here at Te Papa, will aim to post fortnightly on the progress of our work, offering you insight into what happens to a painting during a conservation treatment…. Read more »