Back in May, C-Mon reader Luna Park submitted a query to the Art Nurse regarding a work on drywall that she had acquired when the walls of one of her favorite street art galleries were demolished. (Read the original query here.) At the time, Art Nurse was unable to offer knowledgeable advice without seeing the type of damage to the work in question, so Luna submitted an image for review (see below). Now that Art Nurse has had a little time to study the problem, here is her advice:
I have been pondering your wall fragment for weeks now, scratching my head, talking to colleagues, trying to figure out if there’s anything we can tell you that you can do to preserve this piece yourself. What you’ve got is a problem of disaggregation, or in lay-terms: crumbling. The edges are coming apart and something needs to be put on then to keep this from continuing. The problem with the home remedy in this case is that it requires a lot of testing to make sure what you use doesn’t A) make the piece too shiny, or B) stain it and make it look like it’s tied in a yellowing ribbon. Unfortunately, most of the materials we’d use for this aren’t the sorts of things you can pick up at your local hardware store.
This is really tricky conservation work. If you can’t afford professional services at this time, I suggest you get a nice shallow plastic bin (polyethylene, preferably), or an archival cardboard box, and put your beautiful fragment to bed for a while. Who knows? The artist might get on the cover of ARTnews one day and you might have no choice but to hire one of my ilk to fix it for you.
Have a question for the Art Nurse? E-mail her at suzie [at] c-monster [dot] net.