Technique and condition

The painting was executed on two pieces of heavy-weight, plain-weave cotton canvas that were sewn together. The join runs vertically, approximately 160 cm from the left edge. The resulting canvas was stretched around a softwood expandable stretcher and attached with wire staples at the rear. The stretcher is also constructed out of two smaller stretchers that are bolted together along the central vertical join. A white primer (acrylic emulsion gesso) was then applied directly to the cotton canvas. This was executed with a flat implement and in a reasonable thickness (i.e. a number of layers) so that the resulting surface is extremely smooth, without any canvas texture remaining apparent.

The letters were executed in a red 'poster colour' marker pen, which was applied through stencils that were cut out of sheets of 'vinyl' plastic. Pencil lines that would have marked out the position of these stencils are still visible on the masking tape that covers the edges of the painting. Small pencil marks are also visible across the bottom of each row of letters, approximately every 50 cm. The red ink is fairly transparent, but was applied in moderately thick application and so appears more opaque in some areas. In addition, the amount of ink used has caused some smudging to occur.

The painting is in relatively good condition. The white paint layer is, however, extremely prone to dirt and fingermarks, so it is essential that it be displayed behind a barrier and handled as little as possible. The lightfastness of the red marker pen is also of concern, although fading tests carried out through the scientific section of the conservation department have suggested that it is not a particularly fugitive colour.

Tom Learner
July 2000