Artlab operates a small research program focussing on conservation methods development and the investigation of individual artworks and heritage objects.
Works of art are examined in detail, often utilising a range of scientific techniques, to provide information on artists’ working methods and materials, the deterioration of particular materials, and the condition of individual works prior to conservation treatment.
These investigations commonly use ultraviolet light examination, infra red examination, x-ray and microscopy. Artlab also has a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) analyser and a Fourier Transform Infra Red (FTIR) spectrometer. These instruments are used to provide more specific information regarding material composition, such as pigment or binder analysis of paint.
Research projects are also undertaken to address specific issues relating to conservation treatments. For example, if a deterioration problem arises with an artwork or heritage object that cannot be satisfactorily treated using available conservation methods or materials, Artlab’s conservators will try to devise a treatment methodology that better suits the particular situation. Research will be carried out to test the methodology and/or materials proposed, to ensure the best possible long term outcome.
Artlab regularly collaborates with conservators and scientists in Australia and internationally on research projects.
Artlab’s research program is funded by the South Australian Government through Arts SA. Additional funding is sought from grants, including from the Australian Research Council.