Paper Abstract

This presentation provides an overview of a preliminary study into Tasmanian Artist Philip Wolfhagen’s materials and techniques. Regarded as one of Australia’s most eminent landscape painters, Wolfhagen (b. 1963) is well known for the use of beeswax in his oil paintings.

The study documented the materials, techniques and attitudes of Wolfhagen from the beginning of his career to the present time; including supports, grounds, painting mediums, recipes and techniques, varnishes and glazes, framing and final presentation, as well as the conceptual rationale and meanings behind his choice of materials. The information was gathered by the authors through a series of interviews at the artist’s studio in Longford, Tasmania, and access to his journals and studio notes.

A second stage of this project investigated potential problems related to the addition of beeswax to the paint, as this had been a cause of concern by the artist. Therefore the materials used by the artist with potential to cause degradation phenomena were investigated in more detail. This included carrying out a literature review of the vulnerabilities of all media components, coupled with the results from examinations of representative paintings from different collections and information gathered from conservation treatments of Wolfhagen’s works. Some conservation problems relating to wax mediums and the use of shellac as a barrier in some early works were observed. Implications of the artist’s use of beeswax & dammar resin medium are discussed, as well as the potential failure of zinc white on acrylic emulsion grounds. The significance of artist made stretchers, frames and backings is also highlighted.

The study presents outcomes of a holistic approach to the documentation of a living artist’s entire oeuvre. The project was carried out as a case study for a Minor Thesis for the author’s Masters in Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne. A full paper with all the details of the study will be published by the authors in the upcoming AICCM Bulletin Vol. 36.2.


Cash Brown gained a Master of Cultural Materials Conservation from the University of Melbourne (2014) after many years working with galleries and not for profit organisations as a curator, preparator and program manager. She is the curator/conservator at Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka and runs a fine art conservation business.

Mar Gomez Lobon graduated in Conservation of Paintings at the School of Conservation of Cultural Material in Barcelona (Spain) in 1999. Following several conservation positions in Spain, Italy, UK, NZ, Australia and Singapore, she founded Artco – Art Conservation and Museum Services in 2011, based in Launceston, Tasmania.

2015 AICCM National Conference; Illuminating the New
Paper author:
Cash Brown and Mar Gomez Lobon