EXHIBITION - Works on paper (Feb 20-Mar 15, 2003) :

Works on paper, like those on canvas or other surfaces, can be damaged due to internal material defects as well as external environmental conditions. Internal components of the paper depend primarily on the manufacturing process and acid content not only in the paper but also the framing material is typically the most significant source of deterioration. External sources of damage include light, dust and pollution, humidity, poor framing and matting materials.

There are essentially two ways to protect your work on paper: one, by reducing the length of and intensity of exposure to both these types of light and two, by providing some sort of shield over the paper, such as glass or acrylic which reduces UV light. These are also particularly useful in increasing the longevity of the work as they prevent dust and dirt from affecting the painting. However, plastics other than acrylic can damage works and should be avoided unless they are sleeves meant for storage of paper works.

Light is an important aspect of displaying works but it can also be a major contributor to damage as works on paper are particularly susceptible to deterioration from ultraviolet (UV) and visible light. Light essentially causes pigments and color to fade and can over a period of time cause paper to become brittle, creating fragmented ends. There are several ways to reduce the damage that light in the home may cause. These include hanging the paintings so that there is no direct light on them, use incandescent artificial lighting for the paintings which does not project UV light, and use low wattage bulbs especially for works which make use of colored media (such as watercolor or acrylic paint) or might not be on a good quality acid-free paper.

When selecting matting and framing for paperworks, one has to consider both, how alkaline the mat board is and what the level of local humidity is. Typically, mat boards that are alkaline (pH = 7.5) or made from cotton rag or chemically purified wood pulp are ideal. These boards are able to continue preserving the painting by neutralizing acidity from surrounding pollution. However, certain printing processes may be sensitive to very basic (alkaline) environments, especially if they are displayed in a humid environment and pH neutral (pH = 7) materials should be used. This is the same principle that also applies to the backing board provided behind the picture.

Essentially, if the colors in the image begin fading, the paper darkens or appears stained, or the edges begin to appear more brittle, the picture should be examined for effects of light, environmental factors, acidic paper, or poor framing.

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