Conserving the history of a church is a key to safeguarding its future.
So says Jenny Banks of CRE North exhibitor Fine Art Restoration. She should know. Unique conservation projects take her Carlisle-based company all over the country – from the Scottish Highlands to the Isle of Wight.
‘It is fascinating to visit churches, country estates and historic properties,’ said Jenny, who recently worked on a project for Stratfield Saye, the elegant estate of the Duke of Wellington. She was asked to assess an oil painting depicting a hatchment in the church on the estate grounds. Hatchments traditionally represent the heraldic achievements of a person once deceased, and are displayed in their home, church or family chapel. Fine Art Restoration’s trained art handlers collected the artwork, bringing the necessary equipment to navigate its challenging position at the top of a staircase over the church vestibule.
Above: The hatchments before after conservation work.
‘The conservation work was substantial and involved removing varnish, repairing tears and relining the canvas,’ explained Jenny. ‘We also filled losses, matched pigment for retouching and restored the artwork’s deep reds and shining golds to their original grandeur. We also replaced the stretcher bars, restored the frame and re-varnished the painting to provide a lasting protective finish.’
The managers of Stratfield Saye were delighted with the results.
‘It was a privilege to be invited back to assess a further two artworks displayed in the church as part of our ongoing conservation commitment,’ says Jenny. ‘Artworks displayed in churches are more exposed to environmental and incidental damage, being situated in older historic buildings and also being busy places of worship. Our team of experienced conservators assess artworks, furniture and specialist items within churches and create condition and conservation reports – vital for the long-term maintenance of treasured church contents.
‘Carefully conserving the history of a church is a key to successfully safeguarding its future.’
• Fine Art Restoration are on stand P16 at CRE North