16th Oct 2023

Art Damage and Conservation

What is art conservation?
Art conservation is the practice of undertaking remedial work on damaged artworks that will prevent further deterioration and aid in their long-term preservation.

What is conservation framing?
City Art Depot is committed to the highest standards of professional art care. Inferior picture framing materials, techniques and incorrect handling can all irreversibly damage your artwork. Conservation framing, as practised by City Art Depot, is museum standard preventative art care where the processes used are reversible and the materials and techniques are designed to protect and aid the longevity of the artwork. This includes framing methods and materials that can protect works of art from environmental hazards including light, moisture, dust and insects. City Art Depot also takes time to discuss the art care requirements of individual works with our clients.

Can you repair my artwork?
City Art Depot has good relationships with New Zealand conservators of paintings, works on paper and objects. However, we do not do any repairs to artworks. Artwork conservation, also known as remedial conservation, requires extensive training and knowledge which should not be attempted by picture framers. City Art Depot staff are trained to identify and document damage and report on the condition of artworks and frames. Bring your work in and we can assess how best to proceed with your piece.

What should I look out for to see if my artwork is damaged?
Tell tale signs of artworks being damaged and their causes are:
Colours fading – your artwork is suffering light damage.
Orange or brown spots appearing on the work – your artwork may have what is called ‘foxing’. This is often caused by either mould growing on the matt board or tiny metal impurities in the matt board that can cause rusting.
The interior edge of the matt board, or mount, is a burnt orange and the artwork paper along this edge appears to have a warm glow – this shows that the matt board is made from acidic wood pulp, common in earlier picture framing processes. The acid from this board may be leeching into the artwork.
The artwork is bowing – your artwork may be glued to a backing that has moved due to moisture.
The artwork appears flattened against the glass – your artwork hasn’t been given sufficient space between it and the glass.

City Art Depot staff can examine your artwork to identify any problems and advise on how to have the work professionally conserved and recommend framing options that will protect your work without causing any further deterioration.

What does City Art Depot do to prevent this damage?
In framing works of art, City Art Depot uses high quality acid-free materials and UV blocking glasses to prevent these kinds of damage. All the processes used are fully reversible and works are hinged to the backing board rather than glued down. In the case of reframing an artwork, we will assess what we can do in our workshop and what work may be required by an artwork conservator. Older framing materials, such as glass, mattboards and backing boards, can be replaced with modern museum quality materials within the original frame or a new hand-finished City Art Depot frame.

What can I do to prevent this damage?
In our discussions with our clients, we advise on where to store or hang original works of art. Art works should not be hung above fireplaces or heaters or in direct sunlight – light damage is cumulative, difficult to gauge and irreversible.

Can you repair my frame?
The answer to this will depend on the extent of damage and the state of the materials. Our trained staff can repair most solid timber, lacquered timber and gilded frames. Bring you frame in and our staff will assess what can be achieved.

Get in touch or come into our shop at 96 Disraeli Street, Christchurch to discuss how to conserve and protect your artwork.