The Building Conservation Directory 2024

INTERIORS 5 141 CATHEDRAL COMMUNICATIONS THE BUILDING CONSERVATION DIRECTORY 2024 by a conservation architect and informed by Cliveden Conservation and other specialists. However, the main focus of the project was about creating a space that would suit the modern day needs of an expanding number of students and fellows. A condition assessment and treatment trials were carried out by wall paintings specialist Madeleine Katkov and Cliveden Conservation. It was found that the wall paintings were in parlous condition and required extensive remedial stabilisation. In addition, the coat of arms had not been fully uncovered and was still largely obscured by a thin layer of limewash. Areas of loss and deterioration contributed to making this wall painting almost illegible and not of great aesthetic attraction. The floral spray painting was in a more stable condition. The design is also simpler and more legible than the coat of arms. Some overlying limewash was removed and minimal retouching undertaken to further improve the legibility. As a result, the wall paintings were conserved to avoid any further loss or deterioration of the original materials. Pigments were analysed to gain a full understanding of the paintings. The paintings were then documented using photogrammetry to record their precise nature and condition and to be able to provide high-quality images for any future research. Finally, the decision was made to permanently cover the coat of arms; the panelling was considered to be more suited to the aesthetic of the space and the painting was not visually legible. It should be emphasised that the conserved and documented wall painting remains behind the panelling, keeping open the possibility to reveal it in the future. On the other hand, the floral spray wall painting has been non-permanently covered; the panelling is hinged in this section allowing visitors to reveal the painting below, a decision aided by the fact that the panelling was originally hinged. This solution enables both of these important decorative schemes to be viewed without affecting the desired aesthetic and design of the space. However, from a conservation perspective, the risks to the painting are quite high. There is disturbance from air movement as well as changes in relative humidity (RH), temperature and light levels each time the panelling is opened or closed. The surface of the wall painting is quite vulnerable, with high potential for further deterioration or loss of the paint layer. This approach satisfies many of the parameters of the project, but questions remain concerning the long-term preservation of the painting. Regular monitoring of the wall painting will ensure that any deterioration can be addressed quickly. PARTIAL RESTORATION The art room painted ceiling at Christ Church College, Oxford (Grade I listed). layer was applied. This was considered necessary in order to re-establish the original vibrancy and legibility of the scheme, but also to protect the paint layers due to its location within a practical space for student art projects. The modern varnish layer provided a useful barrier layer so that retouching could take place without directly interacting with the original materials. The removal and reapplication of varnishes does alter the visual impact of the painted scheme and falls more under the category of restoration than conservation by the definitions used here. Retouching, however minimal, clearly comes under ‘restoration’. In this case, partial restoration was undertaken to improve the aesthetic impact of the ceiling, particularly in areas where defects in the paint layer were made more visible after varnish removal and cleaning. The ceiling is quite low and therefore details are easily visible from the ground. As with the first example, the focus of this project was the conservation of the painted scheme itself and no changes were made to the architectural space around the painting during the current project. The early-17th-century painted wood panels once decorated the ceiling of a library, which was then converted into student rooms. They now form the ceiling of the art room. Thirty-two painted panels remain (separated by painted mouldings and Tudor roses), which depict a series of royal coats of arms. Polychrome wood ceilings are typical of the period and this example is part of a group of decorated ceilings found in different Oxford colleges. The royal coats of arms have both artistic and historical value. Cliveden Conservation carried out a condition assessment of the ceiling and set out a recommended approach to the client. Remedial work focused on removal of aged varnish and stabilisation of the paint layers before a new varnish Intended function of the space: unchanged Cultural and historical significance of the painting: extremely high Condition of the painting: fairly stable Requirements/wishes of owners and other stakeholders: happy to be advised by heritage professionals and conservators 17th-century painted wood panels at Christchurch College, Oxford, which were partially restored by removing aged varnish to re-establish the original vibrancy and legibility of the scheme.