AICCM Symposium 2006, Conservation of Paper, Books and Photographic Materials. Post-prints and Posters. 19-21 April 2006, Wellington, New Zealand. p36-54


The triptych The Caf Balzac Mural is a collaborative artwork by Mike Brown, Colin Lanceley and Ross Crothall, which was acquired by the Queensland Art Gallery in 1988. Although each panel is attributed to an individual artist, materials are commonly shared across all three panels and involve a vast range of paper substrates, such as newsprint, magazine pages, wrappers, food cartons and corrugated cardboard. The treatment goal was to achieve a visual unity across and within the panels by stabilising various collage pieces while sympathetically removing 26 years of accumulated grime from the surfaces (analysis showed that it is primarily organic material g probably cooking oils and tobacco residue). The various paper components and their coatings (analysis indicated an early polyvinyl acetate (PVA) adhesive was used throughout the panels) meant that the cleaning of The Caf Balzac Mural represented quite a challenge. A range of cleaning systems were employed including using a combination of methyl cellulose gel poultices. The largely irreversible deterioration of the paper components prompted fascinating avenues of research to explain the damage. Sourcing, comparing and contrasting auxiliary contemporaneous original material illustrated dramatic discolouration of elements. It is anticipated that through digital technology it will be possible to reconstruct the original appearance of a few printed elements, which have undergone significant colour shifts. Results from this area of research are soon to be published on the Queensland Art Gallery website.

4th Book, Paper & Photographs Symposium, 2006
Paper author:
Samantha Shellard