News & Events

Tony looks back at OCAV’s history

April 16, 2018

Leading Conservation Framer Tony Rich is playing a major part in preserving OCAV’s heritage. Tony’s team at Art Conservation Framers specialise in the conservation and restoration of photographs, artworks and artefacts, with a particular interest in the care of historical frames.


Tony is currently restoring two major photographic works that feature the 1892 OCAV Council members and 1898 Council office bearers. The two works feature many small photographs in a hand cut mat behind glass and the frame has a mecca finish – a sliver leaf that was used to look like a gold finish. The restoration will take several weeks and involve experts in frame and paper restoration, and photography. The works will be back on the OCAV boardroom wall well before the 150th anniversary of OCAV is celebrated next year (2019).


“The works are two sister pieces and it seems that all the parts including the frame, glass, photos, and matting are all original. We will maintain as much of the original integrity as possible, replacing elements only where necessary,” Tony said.


The photos in the frame are in contact with the acidic matting and backing material which is causing damage. Tony and his team will line all the matting with archival material to ensure the damage to photos in the future is limited. While the photos are out of the frame they will all be photographed and restored digitally for the OCAV archives.


Most of the components will be cleaned, especially the glass and the frame, which will also have the joins tidied up, chips replaced and blended to match the existing finish.


“Restoration work is often a mammoth job that involves a lot of people,” Tony said. One of the people on the OCAV project is Tony’s son, Reuben Rich, who is an expert in the carving and gilding of period frames and frame restoration. He has worked with Masters in Italy after being awarded a fellowship with the Victorian based International Specialised Skills Institute.


“A lot of the damage to paintings and photographs is caused over time, but also by using incorrect framing materials and techniques,” Tony said. Almost a decade ago he began his work with OCAV restoring a painting that had been damaged and the frame had been over painted, which was a trend in the 1950s. The gold leaf frame had been over painted with a bronze powder, which had oxidised over time resulting in a dark, dull and fly-spotted finish. Tony’s team cleaned and restored the painting and restored and regilded the frame to its gold leaf glory.


All restored artworks works are returned to the OCAV with a treatment report of what has been done during restoration so that the history, or provenance of the work continues.


Tony said there are moves afoot to establish a national art register where restorers and conservationists list what they have done to a piece of art or photography so that it can be accessed in the future. But for now Tony’s fine work will certainly be noted at OCAV.

"There is nothing I would change that would make my life any better. I have two loving sons and family and I thank God every day that OCAV took me in when I had nothing," said Jill Dale, Braeside Park resident.

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