The studio has developed as a successor practice to the South Eastern Museum Service at Kenwood of which Jim was a member until setting up independently in 1995. The majority of conservation experience covers paintings from English 18th, 19th and 20th Century, but also extending into contemporary paintings. The studio carried out the main conservation work on the Ashmolean 20th century gallery that included paintings by Sickert, Ivon Hitchins, Glyn Philpot and John Piper. The studio has been involved with the UCL painting collection for many years, working on 20th century paintings, for example by Uan Uglow, Paula Rego, and David Bomberg. Previously, two important Turners at the V&A, Manby Apparatus, and East Cowes Castle were treated. These were part of the new hang of the painting collection in the new galleries. Of course these are highlights but even though much of the studio work is more prosaic, each painting is treated with the same care.
Courtesy of the artist Ibrahim El Salahi
Group of paintings by Ibrahim El Salahi treated in the studio in 2013. The treatments were carried out on behalf of Gallery of African Art, New York for exhibition Ibrahim Salahi A Visionary Modernist, Tate Britain 2013
The studio has continued the area service practice of carrying out all structural work on paintings, which affords us the fairly unique position in private practice of having highly developed skills and experience in lining and panel work, as well as cleaning and retouching. As part of the studio equipment, there is a large hot table and a smaller low pressure lining table as well as microscope table. The lining practice has developed over the years from ordinary hot table lining to envelope and sensitive hand lining. In line with current thinking about structural problems, lining is avoided if another less invasive approach can be found. Careful structural mending of tears involving thread by thread joining can stabilize large tears so that a lining can be avoided, but there are still cases that justify a lining support. Other structural solutions might include strip lining, stretcher linings and panel inserts into a stretcher.
The studio has a great deal of experience in working on paintings of unusual construction with challenging structural problems. Working on the Memoir of the 20th Century by Felix Topolski in 2007, included treatment of a series of painting which exhibited extreme flaking of “house paint” medium, degraded fabrics with seams, painted strainers that were too weak to function properly and strainers glued to fabric supports. Our concern is always to engineer the optimum treatment for difficult problems. Marouflage onto aluminium panels has been used where fabric linings would not provide the necessary stiffness, for example with the 17th century painting of Bruce Castle which was found in a drawer in about 30 pieces.