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ICS Sydney - International Conservation Services

oils and acrylics

Typical problems

Typical damage we see in these paintings include: cracking or flaking paint, tears or damage to the painting support, discolouration due to dust or dirt build-up and aged varnish. Flaking__modern_art.jpg

The most frequent problems we come across in relation to paintings are surface dust and dirt. Over time, paintings accumulate layers of dust and dirt, both on the surface and behind the painting. This surface dirt, in conjunction with light and changes in humidity and temperature, can accelerate ageing. In most cases, paintings can be cleaned in order to remove dust, dirt, smoke and soot to return the painting to a good overall appearance.  Another consequence of age is the yellowing or discolouration of the varnish layer, which can obscure the surface of the painting. In this instance, we can carefully remove the varnish and replace it with a new, non-ageing varnish. 

Treatment options

In devising a treatment proposal to conserve or restore your painting, we need to consider a number of things, such as the nature of damage, condition and medium of the work. Depending on the nature of damage to the work, treatment may be simple and straightforward, or it may require a more complex and detailed treatment which may take several months to complete.

If left untreated, flaking paint or physical damage such as tears to the canvas can become high risk problems. A painting should be repaired and stabilised as soon as possible after damage has occurred in order to prevent further degrading. Cosmetic treatment after stabilisation, including infilling of losses, recreating texture of lost paint and retouching damage, will return the painting to its original appearance.

Still life after treatmentUnfortunately, fading of paintings and pigments within a painting is something which we cannot reverse. As the primary cause of fading is exposure  to high levels of light, we recommend that you reduce the amount of light your painting is exposed to while on display. This will aid in reducing the effects of irreversible light damage. 


St James Anglican Church Sydney