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Painter's Nightmare

Episode:64Te Papa Collection:Art and Photography

Suggested curriculum levels:5 – 8

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, The Arts: Understanding the Arts in Context

Description:Conservators don't only work on paintings that are hundreds of years old. Two of Te Papa's painting conservators explain why Colin McCahon's 'Northland Panels' needed some careful attention.

Questions for students

  1. What does 'conservation' mean in this context? What does a conservator do? Why do museums like Te Papa put so much effort into conservation work? Why don't museums just let art works age naturally?
  2. List the specific problems with Colin McCahon's 'Northland Panels'. Describe how each problem can be solved. You may need to carry out further research.
  3. How might the context in which art works are produced limit or influence the materials that artists use? Do you think some artists deliberately choose to use materials that will not last long? Why would they do that?
  4. What lessons could artists take from this Tale about the choice of materials they use? When you are deciding what materials to use in an art work, do you think about how the art work will survive over time?
  5. What other conservation processes did this Tale remind you of? Examples might include environmental conservation, plastic surgery, makeovers or house or clothing repairs. Use the 'Connections and conclusions' response template to record the connections that help you understand more about art conservation. What conclusions can you draw about the purpose and process of art conservation?

Related templates:

Connections and conclusions