Step by step conservation of an 18th century watercolour

The watercolour by Francis Nicholson after conservation


The Restoration of an Early English Watercolour by Francis Nicholson of Old Malton Manor and Church, Yorkshire.

The late 18th and early 19th century is considered a golden age for watercolourists in Britain.  One of the most noted of these artists was Francis Nicholson (1753-1844).  He was a founder member and President of the Society of Painters in Watercolour (now the Royal Watercolour Society).  Born in Pickering, Yorkshire many of his earlier watercolours draw on the Yorkshire landscape or depict the homes of local gentry.


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Caring for limited edition aviation, military and other off-set lithographic prints


I often get enquiries from enthusiastic collectors of printed reproductions of paintings on aviation, military, motorsports and similar subjects. These are usually printed in limited, numbered runs of less than 500 and, as well as being signed by the artist, they can be taken to events and signed by veterans. So I thought I would mention some ways to protect these prints and some of the methods used to restore damage. Continue reading…

Caring for Prints

A blog for The Hepworth Wakefield's Print Fair March 5th and 6th 2016

Barbara Hepworth lithographs

Buying original prints offers a wonderful way to enjoy affordable works of art by favourite artists. The rich variety of tones and textures that can be achieved with printmaking techniques ranging from etchings and linocuts to silk screen prints and lithographs also provides plenty of interest for the keen collector. Moreover, the value of rarer, sought-after prints has been rising and can represent a canny investment.

It makes sense, therefore, to take into consideration some ways of caring for your prints. Continue reading…

New Plastazote, archival book supports available from Artworks Conservation

Plastazote book support

Fig. 1 A volume from The Gott Collection on a Plastazote® book support system

For many years I have been making book cradles and supports for museums, archives and libraries to display valuable books and vulnerable bindings. These are usually made-to-measure from acid-free mount board, preventing stress being placed on the spine of the book and providing adequate support for the cover boards. Pages can be secured with clear polyester strips or, for very thin papers, with a soft polyethylene strip. I am always interested to learn about, refine and develop new ways to present books and documents.

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Revealing the River Roch

Rochdale, Charles Ogden 1864, after treatment

Many of the watercolours and drawings I am asked to conserve for museums and galleries are by amateur artists from the 18th to the early 20th century.  The value is not in their artistic merit but in the fact that they depict changing or vanished topographical views.  As such they are a unique record, often pre-dating photography, of the appearance and life in and around towns and city centres.

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Mounting sheets from a 13th century Holy Qur’an

13th-c Qur'an detail

Although I have sometimes been called upon to treat ancient manuscripts on parchment and papyrus, the earliest works on paper that I had conserved were Italian Old Master drawings and German engravings from the early 15th century.  That is until now, after I was asked by curator, Antonia Lovelace, from Leeds Museums and Galleries to conserve and mount two sheets from a Qur’an for the new Visions of Asia gallery at Leeds City Museum. Continue reading…

5 top conservation tips for protecting framed pictures

Example of contemporary mounting and framing

A well-chosen frame can really enhance the appearance of an artwork as well as provide a housing that helps protect your valued pictures.  However, at Artworks Conservation many of the problems that are dealt with result from poor quality framing materials such as acidic mount board, Sellotape and masking tape.
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Conserving the Midland Railway poster, Blackpool


Posters produced to advertise railway companies and their destinations were not expected to last longer than their brief period of display. The papers on which they were printed contained low quality wood pulp and the inks were bulked out with cheap extenders. They were pasted to billboards and walls and often torn down or covered with next season’s designs. Although they were mass produced, the fact that examples from the nineteenth century had survived at all is remarkable.

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Restoration of war memorials for WW1 Centenary


With the centenary of the First World War upon us, there have been a number of enquiries relating to the preservation of documents relating to its history. As well as family collections of letters and photographs, Artworks Conservation have also conserved several Rolls of Honour from various institutions.

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