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Contemporary Art Conservation in Practice: New approaches in decision-making, treatment techniques and the collection care for modern art.


16-18 April 2019

Workshop by Lydia Beerkens at SRAL Studios


The Workshop Contemporary Art Conservation in Practice took place at the SRAL starting on Tuesday 16th of April to Thursday 18th of April 2019, gathering specialists from around  Europe and further regions of the world.

Participants had the opportunity to learn from case studies of contemporary art objects’ conservation treatments, by getting a deeper insight into the different kinds of materials used in Contemporary Art such as, plastics, metals or synthetic binder paints.

Another important part of the workshop was, establishing contact with the artist himself by means of interviewing him. Lydia Beerkens (Senior Conservator of Modern and Contemporary Art at SRAL) led the whole event, giving lectures based on her own experience and the project “Modern Art: Who Cares?” . She shared generously her unbounded interdisciplinary knowledge with the participants and the themes were talked through thoroughly.

Various methods, systems and conservation materials were discussed regarding the best use for each unique treatment case. Trainees were instructed on the preparation of a timeline for each object in order to get a complete understanding of its condition and problems. In this context, participants were enabled to discuss difficulties they had encountered in their own practice, sharing thoughts and receiving advice.

One guest lecturer was Thea van Oosten (Independent Senior Conservation Scientist and Adviser). She elaborated on plastics types and their properties. Thea gave practical advies on how to classify them and gave a lecture about  “Plastics in your collection? Production, problems and solutions.” In addition to this lecture, Lydia showed the technical reconstruction of some popular artworks and explained the importance of acknowledging the creation process of an artwork, as well as the materials that are used. Additionally, the participants were introduced to different polymers samples getting more empirical experience with the materials.

Contemporary Outdoor Sculpture Conservation was a major subject of the talk given by our second guest lecturer  Nikki van Basten (Independent Conservator of Modern and Contemporary Art). She shared her deep knowledge about painted metal objects in two lectures and advised on how to solve the ethical and practical issues during the treatment process.

Part of the program was a visit to the studio of Artist Han van Wetering in Maastricht. It was a good opportunity for the participants to improve their interviewing skills and to follow the advice given by Lydia using acquired knowledge.

An enormous thank you to Lydia Beerkens and to our special guests Thea van Oosten and Nikki van Basten, as well as to Han van Wetering for hosting our group with great hospitality. Another thank you to Eva Tammekivi and Joanna Strombek for assisting with the coordination of the workshop.

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