Today was probably the hottest day so far. The temperature is above 30 degrees which is definitely higher than last year and the year before. Our studio has a pleasant temperature and we have I believe eight fans plus doors & windows on both sides which all create a gentle breeze, at times too gentle.
We always start with a briefing on what was achieved the day before and what treatments will take place during the day. Each pair of students has been allocated a painting and or a frame. It has worked well as they continuously discuss the progress and the outcome of a specific treatment.
At the same time we are cementing their knowledge and widening their choice of materials for specific problems. The main issue is how the paintings and the conservation survive the Goan climate and what materials will last, not interact negatively and primarily be reversible. The repaint by previous ‘restorers’ on these portraits has been dreadful, worse than one could possibly imagine. It had not been possible to examine closely each painting before the actual start of the conservation programme for many reasons, primarily lack of available funds. Last year we had what I can safely say was the worst section of paintings (ten in all) which had been so savagely cut down and repainted that when we hung them, one did not feel that the paintings had improved greatly. However after stabilizing them and removing irreversible materials to some extent, as we hung back that particular section of ten paintings we could safely say that they are in a much better condition. We are thrilled that this project has progressed over a number of years with long intervals so that we can study the previous year’s conservation and compare the tension of the paintings, the drying of the varnish, the effect of the monsoon and many other aspects of interaction with the conservation. We have now added new products that we have been testing over these last two years but much longer elsewhere, but ultimately only time will tell.
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