RESTORATION & CONSERVATION SERVICES | MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART CONSERVATION
Modern and Contemporary Art Conservation
Our services include:
Artists we have worked on or with include:
Jake And Dinos
Berlinde De Bruyckere
Niki De Saint Phalle
Joan Miró Mondongo
Lenore G. Tawney
Hank Willis Thomas
Contemporary Art Conservation Case Studies
“WALL”, STIK – Migration Museum
WALL is a contemporary artwork on display at the Migration Museum, based in Lewisham Shopping Centre. It consists of two separate surviving segments of the Berlin Wall, which have been painted on by contemporary artists STIK and Thierry Noir.
The variety of specialists under one roof makes Plowden & Smith an ideal restore contemporary art, which often features mixed materials.
We were approached by the Migration Museum to remove or – failing that – minimise the appearance of a graffito tag, that was detracting from the appearance of the artwork.
WALL was assessed in situ, which confirmed that the tag had been made with a heavy-duty felt pen, traditionally used for graffiti tagging because its ink will intensely penetrate any porous surface. In the case of WALL, the concrete render presented a porous surface, making the tag almost impossible to completely remove by safe means.
After the initial assessment, a member of our Painting Restoration team that specialises in contemporary art conservation carried out cleaning tests to identify the best possible method of removing the ink from the tag.
The cleaning tests performed with gels and solvents proved most effective in removing superficial residues of the ink and reducing the black pigmentation/dye. Aliphatic and Aromatic solvents were also tested, but as they presented similar results to less toxic solvents, the decision was made not to use them in our restoration of this contemporary artwork.
Cleaning successfully reduced the tag stain from very dark to light grey. Finally, residual staining was carefully retouched to simulate the texture and colour of the surface render. The end result is an extremely discreet retouching that the naked eye does not appreciate unless pointed out.
Banksy, Flying Copper | Contemporary Art Restoration Project
Over the years, Plowden & Smith has treated a number of works by the elusive street artist, Banksy.
Flying Copper is one of Banksy’s Happy Copper paintings, consisting of spray paint on cardboard. The artwork was brought to us with multiple tears to the card, particularly at the point the delicate wings tapers into the torso of the figure.
Our paper conservation department repaired the tears using layers of Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. This repair technique serves to strengthen the cardboard, thus contributing to the long-term conservation of the artwork. Finally, the repairs were retouched to make them visually unobtrusive.
Emergence, Monumental Bronze Sculpture by David Breuer-Weil | Contemporary Art Restoration Project
Our sculpture restoration studio is used to welcoming visitors of all ages and sizes, but David Breuer-Weil’s monumental bronze sculpture ‘Emergence’ has to be one of the largest.
For many years, this four-part sculpture’s home had been a garden square in central London. Acidic rain, air pollution and bird droppings are just some of the factors that can corrode the patination on outdoor sculptures. Over time, and if left untreated, this can seriously impact both their appearance and structural stability. Emergence came in for sculpture restoration treatment to correct typical weather-related wear and damage.
After carefully removing all traces of dirt and debris, our sculpture restoration team applied coloured wax using a hot wax method to restore patination loss. Once completed a final wax was applied, which not only improves the overall appearance of the sculpture but also provides it with an additional protective layer.