One of the programs within the CHARISMA project is the Joint Research activities which are based on three pillars with the common goal to improve the performance of the project’s infrastructures, developing innovative instrumentations and methodologies tailored to the user’s needs.
To these aims, three defined projects are planned as Work packages:
1. Portal exploiting cultural heritage knowledge to enhance the use of archives of the European cultural heritage institutions and to unlock their immensely valuable collections.
2. New portable instrumentation and methodologies for in-situ diagnostics and conservation are developed , setting-up new instrumentation and methodologies for the study of artwork materials, at the surface and in depth as well as developing new advanced laser cleaning techniques, exploiting high security methods that guarantee the artwork, being based on local control of the intervention.
3. Innovative methods & instrumentation for laboratory research regarding organic material investigations on the surface of an object or on microsamples.
Task leader of this third pillar is the ‘Instituut Collectie Nederland’ Research Department / Conservation Department. Program Leader is Dr. Maarten van Bommel.
The work planned within this pillar is first to develop innovative methodologies for laboratory research, for non-invasive or micro-invasive studies of organic materials. Second is to develop a database of analyses and properties of colorants, a new relevant resource suitable for a better development of conservation/restoration practices, in ancient and in contemporary art. And last develop innovative instrumentation for an IR spectroscopic in-depth approach to the study of painting layers.
One of the tasks that I was assigned to was the collection of dyer plants of botanical origin. A small selection of dye plants based on two that have been widely used in Europe since ancient times, one red – madder – and one yellow – weld. We are thus looking at two groups of plants, growing wild or long cultivated in Europe. Each group contains plants with a rather similar dyestuff profile, so perhaps confusing for the analyst; the madder group also contains species that are closely related. It is well known that the dye content of the plants may be affected by environmental factors so we are collecting specimens from as wide an area across Europe as possible. All partners involved in this task will contact their regional botanic gardens asking them plant samples and/or collaboration. My focus will lie in the botanical gardens in the Netherlands and some university gardens in Spain and Portugal.
Knowledge and Users
Finally, the task innovative methods and instrumentation for laboratory research is concerned also with organic colouring matters in works of art and objects of cultural heritage. These materials often suffer changes in colour or other forms of deterioration over time. One result of this is that our perception of the object itself may be affected; more prosaically, the colouring matters are sometimes hard to identify. Thus a better knowledge of these materials will help to improve our understanding of these art works and also assist considerably in their conservation. This knowledge is aimed not only to be used by art conservators, curators, textile keepers and curators but also scientists, botanists and historians.