In September 2022, we hosted the Modular Cleaning Programme (MCP) workshop in our Carlisle studio. Thirty-five conservators from around the world participated in a week long course led by Chris Stavroudis, a scientist and art conservator based in Los Angeles. It was an exciting and valuable educational experience for all involved.
What is the Modular Cleaning Programme?
The Modular Cleaning Programme was designed by Chris Stavroudis to be widely used by conservators from many disciplines. The MCP consists of two main parts: a range of aqueous solutions and gels as well as a computer programme. Conservators use the programme to test and record a range of cleaning solutions, and to build complex mixtures which might be required to treat different artworks and objects. The MCP can be varied according to the materials present on an artwork, including aged oil paint, oxidised natural resin varnishes, polyurethane coatings and acrylic paintings.
“Since the workshop, our own conservators have used the MCP to assist with the treatment of several paintings which are being conserved in the studio. Personally, I enjoy the methodological nature of the MCP, and I have used it to formulate a gel mixture which was able to gently remove an aged natural varnish layer on a heavily overpainted picture. At the end of the workshop a Whatsapp group was made with all the MCP participants. This has allowed all of the conservators to share their experience of using the MCP in their own practice, giving tips to each other and providing invaluable support.” – Hayley, easel painting conservator at Fine Art Restoration Company
One major benefit of the Modular Cleaning Programme is that it creates cleaning solutions which are better for the planet than traditional cleaning methods. Today, environmental sustainability is considered by many conservators to be a key aspect of their practice. Being able to complete tasks previously reserved for harsh solvents, toxic to both the environment and to people, means that the MCP allows for a safer approach for both the planet and the conservator who is applying them. While solvents can sometimes be eliminated fully using the MCP, when their use is unavoidable the format of the MCP means that only a small amount need be used, decreasing the negative environmental impact of the treatment.
Hosting the workshop
The workshop days were split between studio time and lectures. In the lectures, Mr Stavroudis covered some basic aqueous chemistry and more complex polymer science. In the studio sessions, the attendees participated in preparing large quantities of the stock solutions and gels. Towards the end of the week the attendees were able to practise using the MCP on sample artworks provided by Fine Art Restoration Company. These provided invaluable experience in seeing the solutions at work and getting a feel for the testing process of the MCP firsthand.
Supporting conservators from around the world
This educational week was also an opportunity for conservators to meet and socialise. Experts from around the world gathered in our Carlisle studio, including participants from the United States, Canada, Australia and across Europe. Every day our team provided transport to and from the studio, as well as extra activities for a chance to relax outside of the workshop. On Thursday evening we arranged a private tour of Tullie House art gallery and on Friday afternoon we hosted a barbeque in our studio allotment.
As well as being a valuable educational experience, the workshop was also a fantastic networking opportunity. The week in Carlisle allowed collaboration between conservators at different stages of their careers, including three students whose places on the course were fully subsidised by Fine Art Restoration Company.
Get in touch
If you have any questions regarding the Modular Cleaning Programme or would like us to consider hosting more workshops in the future, we are glad to answer any questions you may have.
To make contact please email us via [email protected] or call 0207 112 7576