Your support of Manchester Art Gallery helps us to conserve our collections for immediate display, as well as to maintain the conditions of objects to a high quality for future generations to enjoy.
Much care is required to maintain the condition of artworks to a high standard, especially our most popular works that are on display the most. This includes Zephyr by op art pioneer Bridget Riley.
Zephyr (1977) is an acrylic painting on canvas, frequently on open display in the Gallery, and has accumulated many years of surface dirt from the surrounding environment. The deposited layers are a combination of air pollutants and dust produce by the large numbers of visitors Manchester Art Gallery enjoys. This everyday surface dirt can become detrimental to the artwork if left unmonitored, or other environmental factors such as temperature and relative humidity not controlled.
Due to the popularity of paintings such as Zephyr that are displayed either frequently or permanently, the opportunity to surface clean these paintings are rare. Regular dusting or housekeeping of the collections – both on display and in the stores- by collection care staff mitigates the harm to the collection from this very everyday agent of degradation.
In 2020, Zephyr was transferred to the conservation studios where the treatment to remove surface dirt layers was carried out.