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Thursday, June 1 • 10:30am - 11:00am
(Research & Technical Studies) What can nanotechnology do for us? Evaluating novel cleaning tools through the NanoRestArt project at Tate

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Tate is currently a partner in the Horizon 2020-EU funded project ‘Nanorestart'– a multinational research initiative to introduce nanotechnology solutions to the conservation and preservation challenges of modern and contemporary art. The project aims to address four distinct conservation challenges: (1) the controlled surface cleaning of contemporary materials, (2) the stabilisation and consolidation of canvases and painted layers (3) the development of sensors and substrates for enhanced molecular detection and analysis, and (4) the creation of enhanced protective coatings. All of the tools and materials being investigated aim to introduce nanotechnologies such nanocontainers, nanoparticles, nanosensors, etc., to the collection care toolbox. Tate's role in Nanorestart is primarily focused on the evaluation of novel cleaning systems which include highly-retentive gels for the confinement of enzymes and nanostructured fluids based on green surfactants. Over the course of the project, we will carry out analyses and treatments on three artworks from the Tate collection in conjunction with sculpture and paintings conservators. The artworks include a plastic object, an acrylic (solution) painting, and an acrylic (emulsion)-painted mixed media object. Each treatment will be approached as a complete case study and will include extensive scientific analyses and technical examination, preparation of mock-ups, characterisation of the mock-up surfaces before, during, and after treatment with a large suite of systems (including those currently available to conservators), evaluation of the optimal cleaning approach based on scientific and conservator evaluations, and finally, the surface cleaning treatment of the artwork. The process and results from our first two case studies will be presented in detail – Michael Dillon's Op Structure, 1967, and progress made on Roy Lichtenstein's Whaam!, 1963. Dillon's Perspex® (poly(methylmethacrylate)) Op Art object does not show significant signs of degradation; however, the surface has areas of fingerprints and light soiling, and there are two different types of adhesive labels which will be removed. The high gloss and susceptibility of the polymer to solvent cleaning and abrasion make this treatment complex and very relevant to contemporary art collections. At present, mock-ups based on the artwork materials have been prepared and characterised; more than 60 treatment options will be explored for soiling and adhesive removal prior to approaching the artwork. Lichtenstein's iconic piece is painted primarily with Magna acrylic solution paints, as well as oils and oil-modified alkyds. The ‘seam' between the two canvases of the painting's composition has become distracting due to surface soiling and other marks. This case study will commence at the start of 2017, and the results, challenges, and the decision making process leading up to the treatment (to date) will also be presented. The research for this study received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 646063

avatar for Dr. Bronwyn Ormsby

Dr. Bronwyn Ormsby

Principal Conservation Scientist, Tate
Dr Bronwyn Ormsby is Principal Conservation Scientist at Tate. She manages the Conservation Science and Preventive Conservation department and leads Tate's contribution to the Nanorestart project.

avatar for Dr. Lora Angelova

Dr. Lora Angelova

Conservation Scientist, The National Archives, Kew
Lora Angelova is a Conservation Scientist at The National Archives, Kew. She obtained a PhD in chemistry from Georgetown University in conjunction with the scientific research department of National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC and has carried out research into gel cleaning of a... Read More →
avatar for Rachel Barker

Rachel Barker

Paintings Conservator, Tate
avatar for Gates Sofer

Gates Sofer

Sculpture Conservator, Tate
Sculpture and Installations Conservator for Tate Britain.

Thursday June 1, 2017 10:30am - 11:00am CDT
Regency D Ballroom Level, West Tower