On Thursday evening, the 28th of June, Angela Zehnder joined us at the Athenaeum to tell us a bit about her role in the conservation and restoration of paintings at the South African National Gallery.
Angela gave a talk, illustrated by slides, giving us a glimpse into the fascinating world of art restoration. We were shown how the use of X-rays and infra-red light exposes layers beneath the painted surface, telling tales of previous concepts and compositions toyed with by the artist, before settling on the image we see.
Or perhaps an incongruous support, like the lid of a biscuit tin we see under the painting in one of Angela’s slides.
Angela stressed the importance of correct display and storage of a painting – such as keeping humidity levels controlled and light gentle – to prevent deterioration. She also touched on methods of repairing damage to works not stored correctly and removing layers of discoloured varnish to reveal the original freshness of the paint beneath.
Her subject is vast – too much to cover in one sitting – but we were given a taste of what is involved. Thank you Angela, for an interesting evening.