Conserving art in the tropical home

One of the things that makes a retrospective exhibition like R. Brent Malone: Reincarnation so special is seeing decades-old works looking as fresh as some of their newer counterparts. This is no easy feat, particularly for art collectors living in tropical climates. Humidity and pests take their tolls on paintings quickly, and without knowing how to care for their works, collectors risk seeing some of their favorites deteriorate. In developing countries like The Bahamas, where art often serves as a method of historical documentation, this can be a significant loss.

“I’ve found worm holes eaten through the frame and the paper. There’s water stain damage, there’s mold – just a lot of problems that you don’t have elsewhere because of the tropical climate,” said Vanderlip. “I just thought that I’d like to make people aware.”

One of the most common issues she’s seen is paint becoming separated from the canvas. According to Vanderlip, humidity causes the canvas to shrink and expand. The movement causes the canvas to separate from the paint and the paint falls off.

She believes that one of the solutions lies in changing the way artists build canvas stretchers. She recommends using stretcher keys to help tighten the canvas periodically to prevent it from separating from the paint.

Those interested in learning more about caring for their artwork and anyone keen on finding out how he or she can begin a career as an art restorer are welcome to attend the NAGB’s next talk. Vanderlip will be speaking about best practices for collectors in the tropics and solutions for their problems. The talk will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2 at the NAGB. As with all gallery talks, this will be free and open to the public; all are welcomed to attend.