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Wall paintings



Hirst Conservation undertakes the recording, analysis and conservation of wall paintings dating from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. Whether a medieval church wall painting on traditional lime, an oil painted ceiling on plaster or a modern mural on cement, wall paintings are by their very nature a part of the fabric of the building on which they are situated. The nature and condition of the painting is therefore dependant on the construction and condition of the broader building fabric and environment, and their conservation requires a holistic understanding of complex factors.

The services offered for the investigation and treatment of wall paintings include:

  • Comprehensive condition surveys, including photographic and diagrammatic recording. This can include assessment of previous treatment, documentation and archival records;
  • Watching briefs to ensure safeguard of items of significance during construction works;
  • Analysis of the fabric, including the measurement of moisture and salt levels within the stonework and sampling of mortars and renders to determine aggregate/binder content;
  • Environmental recording using telemetric systems and thermographic imaging;
  • Recommendations for preventive conservation measures to ensure longevity of the wall paintings;
  • Digital representation and enhancement of imagery to enrich interpretation and legibility;
  • Conservation treatments to include: structural repair; consolidation of substrate, delaminating plaster, scaling stone and powdering or flaking paint; mortar repairs to losses within the plaster and fractures; removal of non-original surface coatings including dirt, varnish, over-paint and inappropriate retouching; sympathetic retouching of losses as appropriate.

Some of our projects include:

  • All Saints Church, Little Kimble: Comprehensive condition survey followed by conservation of important 14th century wall paintings;
  • St Mary Magdalene Church, Enfield: Comprehensive condition survey followed by conservation of a significant painted scheme by NHJ Westlake to the Chancel;
  • Ely Cathedral: Condition survey, recording and emergency consolidation of the medieval wall paintings at clerestory level within the North Transept;
  • St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle: Conservation of wall paintings and painted cornice to the Oliver King Chantry;
  • Prisoner of War Wall Paintings, North Lincs. Museum: Conservation of 20th century graffiti by prisoners;
  • St Peter’s Church, Clayworth: Conservation of large scheme of wall paintings by Phoebe Traquair and creation of new scheme of frescos;
  • Cable Street Mural: Detailed condition survey followed by stabilisation and restoration of the mural in conjunction with one of the original artists.