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Evaluation of reduced oxygen display and storage of watercolours

Thomas, J.L.; (2012) Evaluation of reduced oxygen display and storage of watercolours. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Reduced-oxygen display and storage, through the limitation of oxidative processes, can enhance the preservation of works on paper. By limiting photo-oxidative processes, access to objects can be increased, allowing their display at higher light levels and/or for longer periods. Published research indicates that most artists’ materials will either benefit from or suffer no detrimental effect from reduced-oxygen environments. However, some colourants have been found to undergo accelerated change in the absence of oxygen. Therefore, evaluation of benefits to heritage objects prior to reduced-oxygen treatment is required. The Anoxic Frames Project at Tate, of which this Thesis is an outcome, aimed to develop reduced-oxygen framing solutions, test their efficacy, identify materials that undergo accelerated change in a reducedoxygen environment and develop methods to identify candidate objects for anoxic storage. The scope of my research at Tate and for this Thesis was limited to 19th-century watercolour drawings, with a focus on J.M.W. Turner. My research contributed to several publications, conference papers, posters, reproduction of a 19th- century paper, a prototype reaction cell and was, in part, patented. This Thesis presents: a literature review of both the behaviour of artists’ materials in zero oxygen (anoxia) and of analytical methods; a technical study leading to the reproduction of a paper used by Turner; analytical studies of the photo-reactivity of madder lakes and Prussian blues; the design and testing of a prototype reaction cell for operando spectroscopy studies of heritage materials; an outline of the field of heritage degradomics; the application of heritage degradomics with advanced chemometric methods to evaluate the headspace profiles of watercolours aged in both anoxia and room atmosphere. The Thesis concludes with an evaluation of reduced-oxygen treatment, and a proposal of how heritage institutions can both select objects suitable for reduced-oxygen storage and display and implement low-cost reducedoxygen cassettes in their display practice.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Evaluation of reduced oxygen display and storage of watercolours
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Research funded by PSRE3 (the UK Public Sector Research Exploitation Fund)
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Graduate Studies

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