Adopt an Artwork!

Published on 21 July 2020


Paper materials make up a large portion of our cultural heritage but because of their nature, they also require conservation to preserve and protect them for future generations.

Rockhampton Art Gallery and Friends of the Rockhampton Art Gallery have initiated a novel way to ensure the conservation of its works on paper – they’re encouraging people to adopt an artwork!

From the effects of acid in the paper fibre introduced as part of the manufacturing process or later in storage, through to the quality of the paper itself, works on paper can be some of the most delicate works in a gallery’s collection.

Rockhampton Art Gallery holds around 800 artworks that are described as Works On Paper, bringing together prints, drawings and paintings. The works have been collected over five decades but many individual pieces are even older than this.

In 2019 the Gallery received a Community Heritage Grant, funded by the National Library of Australia, to undertake a Preservation Needs Assessment. One of the recommendations was that a number of Work On Paper be conserved as a priority to be addressed in the near future, and from this Rockhampton Art Gallery have identified 80 artworks.

With the support of Friends of the Rockhampton Art Gallery, Rockhampton Art Gallery has developed the Conservation Campaign: Works On Paper. This fundraising campaign aims to raise $8,000 so that 80 of Rockhampton Art Gallery’s most fragile works can be conserved, ensuring their optimum condition for future generations.

People can ‘adopt an artwork’ of their choosing for $100 (tax deductible) which will fund the professional conservation of the work, with the  Donors’ names being attributed to the artwork record.

Artworks available for ‘adoption’ are listed here:

Rockhampton Regional Council Community Services Portfolio Spokesperson Councillor Drew Wickerson said that as artworks age, conservation actions need to be undertaken to preserve and protect them.

“Artworks are just like you and me. They need rest, a beauty treatment now and then, and sometimes a trip to the doctor- or even the surgeon if things are left without care for too long! Without active conservation, Rockhampton Art Gallery’s paper based collection will gradually acquire more and more damage and eventually lose their artistic merit and value to the community,” he said.

“The required conservation treatment, to be performed by conservators and collections staff, will cost an average of $100 per artwork and include the conservation materials for the treatment.

“Conservation is the process caring for artworks or objects by addressing environmental influences and inherent conditions that can cause them to deteriorate. By managing these factors through careful assessment and conservation measures, we can ensure that artworks remain accessible and in excellent condition into the future,” Cr Wickerson said.

President of the Friends of the Rockhampton Art Gallery, Tracey Siddins said that to date, 18 artworks have been funded for conservation by six donors.

“Through the generous donations by Rick Palmer, Maria Harms, Jillian Litster, Suzi Blair, Bronwyn Hoch and Anni Bastin-Byrne, the conservation and re-housing treatments on 18 artworks has begun, including artworks by Jeffery Smart, Vida Lahey, Gil Jamieson and Daryl Lindsay," Tracey said.

For more information visit:

To adopt an artwork, visit:

Rockhampton Art Gallery is owned and operated by Rockhampton Regional Council.

The Community Heritage Grants program is funded by the Australian Government through the National Library of Australia; the Office for the Arts; the National Archives of Australia; the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Museum of Australia.

The Rockhampton Museum of Art is jointly funded by the Australian Government and Queensland Government in association with Rockhampton Regional Council.




Work on Paper collection - British Art – Rockhampton Art Gallery

In 2008, Melbourne scientist and art collector Dr Douglas Kagi donated 157 modern British prints to Rockhampton Art Gallery. The collection showcases the diversity of British printmaking including screenprinting, etchings and lithographs from the 1960s to the 2000s. This gift enables to the Gallery to present regular thematic print exhibitions and to further develop its international collection in years to come.

The Kagi Gift comprises prints by such significant figures in twentieth century art as Henry Moore, Victor Pasmore and Graham Sutherland, modernists who first came to prominence in the 1930s and 40s. Also included are artists who made particularly important contributions to printmaking during the 1960s and beyond, including Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield, Allen Jones, Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi.


Caring for paper based collections

Paper is relatively fragile, however, there are ways that you can care for it to ensure its longevity. Much of the damage to paper materials occurs through poor handling, inadequate storage and poor display techniques. For example, mould can be the result of damp storage conditions, and various mounting materials can cause staining and discolouration.

Heat, high humidity and over-exposure to light, either artificial or direct sunlight, will accelerate chemical reactions that cause papers to deteriorate and degrade. Some inks and other pigments will fade if exposed to light, especially ultraviolet (UV) light present in normal daylight and from fluorescent bulbs. UV light also damages the cellulose in paper, causing it to become yellow and brittle. This effect is exacerbated by higher temperatures and moisture.

Dust tends to absorb moisture, providing a suitable environment for mould growth and insects. Stains caused by mould and pests are not easily treatable. Both problems are exacerbated by humidity, so it is important to keep papers in a relatively dry environment with adequate circulation of air.

The survival of anything made of paper depends on the properties of the paper itself, the materials applied to it, and their effect on each other. In contrast to materials such as textiles, where older pieces are usually more fragile than newer ones, the opposite is often true of paper. If stored in a good environment, paper made in Europe from the late medieval period through to the mid-19th century tends to be in good condition. Paper made after the mid-19th century, however, may be affected by the poor quality materials from which it was made. Thus some modern papers only have a lifespan of a few decades.