Image of Poedua in its frame immediately after it arrived at Te Papa. Photograph taken by Michael Hall. © Te Papa.

If you have been following Mel and Katherine’s Poedua treatment blogs you may be surprised to read another’s voice on this one – a voice from the edge as it were. I’m Matthew O’Reilly, Framer of Paintings here at Te Papa. My previous blogs were quite some time ago now. KatherineRead more

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 anyRead more

Westland Petrel, endemic to New Zealand on its breeding ground. Photograph by D Filippi

The advent of GPS in cell-phones and car navigation systems has done a lot to render this technology accessible for a variety of users, devices are now only 10-20 g in weight, and can cost as little as $100 a piece. Satellite telemetry was first used to study flying birdsRead more

Uneven varnish under UV

Now that the painting has had its layer of surface dirt removed, the next step in the treatment is the removal of the varnish layer.  A lot of the principles that we talked about with surface cleaning, also apply to the removal of varnish layers.  Therefore, prior to beginning it’s importantRead more

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 thatRead more

Surface Cleaning

Now that we have cleaned the back of the canvas we can look at surface cleaning the front of the painting.  This is a separate procedure from the removal of varnish and overpaints and is completed first because surface dirt is the first layer encountered.  The reason we remove the dirt layerRead more

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 theRead more

The back of the canvas

Poedua is an oil painting on stretched canvas, meaning the composition is painted on a fabric support which is stretched to keep it evenly tensioned, over an expandable wooden stretcher.  Canvas supports began to replace traditional wooden panel supports from about the 16th century and were the most commonly used typeRead more

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 aRead more