Workshop ‘Solvents and Paint Films: the practical ramifications’

Workshop ‘Solvents and Paint Films: the practical ramifications’
By Gwendoline R. Fife

20 -22 oktober 2020

The aim of the workshop is to support students and practitioners in their practical applications of solvents. This will be achieved by providing a review of knowledge with an overview including recent research into solvent effects, current findings into solvent application techniques, and an open forum for discussions covering workshop participants’ questions, practical experiences and opinions regarding solvent choices and application.
 A Review of Matter and Energy - the basis of everything, and why anything ever happens.
(atoms, molecules, ions, molecular/ionic models, interactions and reactions.)
 Organic solvents, solvation, and the influence of environment.
 Dissolution and Rate – Will it dissolve? How fast?
 Conceptual models for solvent behavior.
 Applications in Conservation.
 Potential solvent effects on paint films.
 Applications in practice.
 Treatment adaptations.
 Assessing risk - practical testing approaches.
 Selecting treatment strategies.

Additional information
The lectures and workshop will be focused on the fundamental properties and use of solvents in conservation. The solvents discussed will predominantly comprise those organic solvents most commonly used in the field and in accordance with the approaches of careful conservation practice. However, some information will be provided for some other solvents (e.g. silicone solvents / green solvents).

The fundamental properties of solvents and the modelling of their behaviour will be explained, and the clear relevance of this information to their applications within our field – such as varnishing, varnish removal and consolidation – will be described. The results of investigations into the effects of organic solvents on artist paint films are potentially highly beneficial in developing our conceptual modelling and understanding of paint films, and the possible negative effects from solvents.
However, applying these theoretical findings to practice, and judging the associated risks, also in relation with other approaches, can be challenging. From a conservator’s perspective, examining how the magnitude of these solvent effects can be influenced by our solvent choice, techniques and practices is a pertinent focus, and will be the central tenet of the workshop.
The lectures will be up-to-date regarding the most pertinent and latest research information from solvent applications and adaptations on model systems and real paintings. Certain tools will be used to aid in understanding the theoretical topics and to illustrate their practical applications, including molecular model kits, and hand-outs to exercise problem solving with solvent modelling systems. Material developments and adaptations (such as new gelling approaches / components for cleaning painted surfaces / testing and documentation procedures) will be reviewed. It is envisaged that the lecture components be followed by discussions covering workshop participants’ questions so that the content of the practicals can be best tailored to the participants’ knowledge and expertise.
In the practical sessions the context of testing cleaning approaches on actual painted objects will be provided, and a ‘real’ perspective of risk assessment in undertaking treatment approaches will be discussed. Sharing of participants’ observations, experiences, opinions and questions regarding solvent choices and applications will an important aspect throughout.
Variations of this workshop have been given at:
 the Estonian Academy of Arts and the Art Museum of Estonia; the National Museum in Stockholm, Sweden
 SRAL -The Conservation Institute, Netherlands
 Metropolia, University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki, Finland
Since 2005 Gwendoline R. Fife has worked at SRAL where she is a senior (practicing) conservator and lecturer on these workshop topics. After graduating in chemistry (BscHons, York university, 1994), she trained in easel painting conservation at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London (PGDipCons, 1997). Following her subsequent Mellon Fellowship (Walters Museum, Baltimore, 1998-2001) she worked in various museum and private conservation studios in the USA, Ireland, UK and the Netherlands prior to her current position

Practical information
 Organisation:‘VZW De Kunstkliniek’, led by Sara Dewilde (C/R Paintings) and Nathalie Posson (C/R Wood / Furniture)
 Location: Royal Academie of Fine Arts DKO of Antwerp, Blindestraat 35, 2000 Antwerp
 Number of participants theoretical + practical part: maximum 15
Registration fee: 390 euro, includes lunch and coffee breaks on three days
 Number of extra participants theoretical part: maximum 25
Registration fee: 130 euro, includes only coffee breaks
For students KASKA and UA only administration fee: 20 euro
 Registration is only final after receipt of the registration fee on the following account number; BE03 1111 8169 9484 (‘VZW De Kunstkliniek), please mention name and workshop
 Deadline for application: 1 June 2020
 Target group: Registration is open to conservators, restorers and students
 Contact: Sara Dewilde,;

Day 1
9:30 Gathering and coffee
10:00 Lecture
11:00 Coffee break
12:00 Lunch
13:00 Lecture
15:00 Coffee break
15:30 Lecture
17:00 Closure
Day 2
9:00 Gathering and coffee
9:30 Lecture
10:45 Coffee Break
12:00 Lunch
13:00 Workshop
15:00 Coffee Break
15:30 Workshop
17:00 Closure
Day 3
9:00 Gathering and coffee
9:30 Lecture
10:45 Coffee Break
12:00 Lunch
13:00 Workshop
15:00 Coffee Break
15.30 Workshop
16:30 Closure