Artworks have always been admired, treasured and treated with great care to protect them from damage and deterioration. They were sheltered, repaired and treated in several ways, even during times of hardship such as war and natural disasters. Unfortunately, some treatments actually proved disastrous, causing permanent damage. But other treatments proved successful. This explains why we can still enjoy the splendour and magnificence of numerous masterpieces in our museums and galleries. The conservation community has learnt from past errors and success stories. Conservators-restorers have shared their experiences and made use of scientific equipment to find out what causes artworks to deteriorate and establish ways of preventing rapid deterioration. The prime goal consists in finding ways of effectively extending the lifetime of artworks. Such studies are made together with other professions - namely conservation scientists. Today conservation-restoration is scientifically-oriented. Yet many are those who still believe that conservation and restoration of artworks is carried out by artists or craftsmen. The European Confederation of Conservators-Restorers (ECCO), the conservation and restoration of artworks is a highly specialised profession and should be carried out by qualified and experienced individuals who are bound to follow strict Code of Ethics. Conservators-restorers should have at least a Bachelor and/or Master Degree in conservation-restoration studies awarded by an internationally-accredited university. In addition, the conservator-restorer should be warranted or licensed, guaranteeing a track record of quality and ethically-correct work. After all, the treatment of artworks carries a great responsibility. Since every artwork is unique, a thorough examination of the artwork has to be carried out before commencing treatment in order to determine its technique, deterioration, damage, history, significance and function. After understanding and documenting the artwork's unique characteristics and requirements, it will be then possible to establish a tailor-made treatment and/or recommendations on how to best take care of it.
Meet David, the author of this website. He is a Maltese conservator-restorer of paintings and polychrome sculpture. He started studying conservation-restoration in 1999, eventually receiving his bachelor and master degrees in 2003 and 2007 from the University of Malta. Apart from treatment methodologies of easel paintings, David has a particular interest in establishing measures that can extend the lifetime of artworks (by improving the artworks' environmental conditions and by sealing artworks in tailor-made enclosures to limit further paint loss). David has lectured conservation students, took part in coordinating the conservation degree courses, attended conferences, and delivered lectures on how to take care of polychrome artworks. He is constantly committed in researching and in improving the quality of his work. Conservation-restoration is both challenging and rewarding. It necessitates interdisciplinarity and enriches skills and knowledge through research and experience. This leads to exciting new collaborations and discoveries, as well as better analysis and treatment of artworks. There are no words to express the satisfaction and pride achieved upon saving a severely damaged work of art. The same could be told when the conservator-restorer manages to find effective means of protecting artworks from damage and from rapid deterioration. Conservators-restorers can also conduct investigations of the location in which artworks are displayed or stored to verify whether the art collection is kept in an environment that favours their preservation (or otherwise). Artworks are often exposed to deteriorating agents - such as light and unstable relative humidity - that can cause artworks to deteriorate at a very fast rate. Artworks may be described as silent patients, unable to warn us of their risks until it is too late. Hence owners and managers of artworks are greatly encouraged to employ conservators-restorers to investigate art collections in situ. This would provide the possibility of maintaining and preventing/limiting damage and deterioration, reducing the necessity of expensive, lengthy treatments. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Preserving artworks will not only safeguard their value, but it also permits us to enjoy them and transmit them to our future generations.
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Original site version: 2003
deskrizzjoni bill-Malti: websajt fuq konservazzjoni u restawr ta' pittura u statwi polikkromi minn David Frank Bugeja, restawratur kwalifikat u professjonali Malti