Prints, Multiples and Paper Conservation

Our paper conservation department carry out a wide range of preventive and complex interventive treatments on paper: including on fine art, parchment, three-dimensional paper objects, bound volumes, photographs and archival material.

Our paper conservators have extensive research and practical conservation experience with some of the most complex materials, including adhesives, unusual substrates, lead white and iron gall ink.

Paper conservation treatments to restore appearance and stability include flattening, cleaning, washing, fumigating against mould, tear repairs, de-acidifying, tape and adhesive removal, infilling losses and retouching, and hinging into mounts.

We also carry out surveys, assessments and condition reporting projects, as well as mounting a diverse selection of works on paper for display or exhibition.

Following treatment and where needed, our experts will apply a non-acidic conservation-grade backing and museum quality non-reflective, UV-filtering glass to the work to prevent further deterioration.

Paper Conservation Case Studies

Brigitte Bardot ‘Cigar’ Silver Gelatin Print, Terry O’Neill

This limited-edition silver gelatin Brigitte Bardot print by Terry O’Neill came into our Paper Conservation Studio for treatment after suffering water damage.
Due to the adhesive properties of the gelatin, the photo and the card mount had partially stuck together, causing further damage to the print. Careful separation was needed before any conservation treatment on the piece could begin.
Following separation, the print was cleaned for potential mould on both the front and reverse sides. Fragile or lifting areas were burnished using a bone folder and a layer of Bondina, conservation-grade non-woven polyester, applied to stabilise the surface.
The damaged areas were then meticulously retouched using watercolour paints, and a gelatine finish was applied to improve the surface texture of the print.

Banksy, Flying Copper

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.

Find out more about our Contemporary Art Conservation services here.

James II Document

This document, which dates from 1686, is a Royal Warrant for the payment of the raising (formation) of the Royal Fusiliers and includes the signature of James II.
The writing on the inside and reverse of this document was only discovered when one of our Senior Paper Conservators removed the work from its frame to allow the document to be mounted.
Following treatment, which included some pigment-work, we devised a display method that would show both sides of the document. In this instance, an undermount with a window cut into it so that the manuscript on the reverse is not lost.