Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tuesday - Let There Be Light

The church lies hidden behind houses in the centre of town, and is approached by steps.
Yesterday we went to a meeting, which packed the church at Pickering, they are trying to raise funds through a bid to the Heritage Lottery fund for one and a half million pounds to update the church itself and conserve the medieval paintings. Local news gives the gist of the bid...Father Prichett says..

“Pickering has one of the most complete sets of medieval wall paintings in the country, and increasingly they are being considered one of the most important examples of their kind in northern Europe.”

The paintings themselves have a history all to themselves, painted about 550 years ago, they were covered in a lime wash in Henry 8th's blitz on all things Catholic, and were only rediscovered in the 19th C.
Again, because the Bishop at the time was not keen on them they were then painted over in a lime wash, luckily the person who did it watered down the application and they were then uncovered again, unfortunately though at this time the paintings were somewhat 'restored' and if you look at the 'Martyrdom of St.Edmunds' you see a distinctly Pre-raphelite touch in the vertical flowers strip.

Dr.Kate Giles gave a very enthusiastic talk on the wall paintings, someone asked are they frescoes, but they are not, as a fresco is painted on a wet surface apparently, these paintings are on a dry surface.  You can see much better photographs here on Dr.Giles PDF - Marking Time.
Conservation as opposed to restoration is where the work will be conducted, a light washing of the dusty paintwork is all that is allowed, restoration is not an option.  There maybe also earlier paintings underneath which will be searched for, apparently in the 19th century certain fixatives were tried, this is not a good idea, the paintings under a protective cover could get damp.
Along with paying attention to the wall paintings, the money will be spent on a new heating system, Father Pritchett had had the heating on for four days for the meeting; new loos, better lighting, though LS does not like the idea of LED lighting. Also a glass door to create an inner porch, shut out all those drafts, one of which I sat in.


  1. We have a church at Easby Abbey, close to Richmond - there are wall paintings there and they are wonderful. All these places should get the money to restore and preserve them - it is such an important part of our history.

    1. Pat with the cut backs on museums and closing them down as well especially 'up North' there is not much chance of churches getting funding, especially as English Heritage has been made into two bodies.

  2. LED lights will vastly lower the electricity bill that parish treasurer has to pay, leaving more funds to be spent elsewhere.

  3. LS says that's true, but LED gives a cold but bright light. Of course there is always energy lights as well.

  4. Hi Heron

    LD lights are certainly bright and cheap to run but I worry about them on two accounts. Firstly, they emit a very cold light (far removed from anything the Pickering wall paintings would have originally been seen in) and, secondly, I have concerns about their UV emissions (which would endanger the paintings through fading). I’ve tried to find out a little more about this possible danger but haven’t discovered much so far. This might be relevant though from AP Technologies Ltd -

    "Ultra Violet LEDs emitting below 400nm have the potential to injure due to improper use or failure to maintain a high degree of care in the use of these products:-

    1. UV LEDs emit intense UV light during operation.

    2. Do not look directly into a UV LED while it is in operation, as it can be harmful to the eyes, even for brief periods.

    3. If it is necessary to view a UV LED, use suitable UV filtered glasses or goggles to avoid damage to the eyes.

    4. Avoid any direct eye exposure to the emission of a UV LED.

    5. Keep UV LEDs and products containing them out of the reach of children.

    6. If several UV LEDs are used together and/or at high output operation, avoid prolonged exposure to skin or other tissue.

    7. Take appropriate precautions, including those above, with pets or other living organisms that might suffer injury or damage from exposure to UV emission."

    As with all new technologies, perhaps best to err on the side of caution!

    1. LED lights offer the safest artificial lighting on the market - See more at:

    2. Ah, thanks for that Herron, though the issue doesn’t seem to be as clear-cut as it initially seems (ie that LED’s do not emitting any UV or IR.

      In this article - - the author(s) argue that, “...LEDs are great for a lot of things. Unfortunately, lighting art and artifacts isn't one of them.

      “Beside making things look bad, blue is exactly the wrong color for preservation in a museum or archive. Blue light isn't reflected by the yellows and browns of parchments, faded textiles or ancient artifacts. It is absorbed. It doesn't aid vision. It increases damage. That is why the National Archives (NARA) set a 500nm cut off for light sources for the charter documents. Check the "white" LED power distribution again. Where would the 500nm cutoff fall?

      “...none of these sources meet IESNA guidelines for museum (or commercial) lighting by filtering all non-visible radiation.”

      What this, and Part 2 of the article seems to be saying, is that LEDs may not be appropriate for illuminating pictorial art – either from a conservation standpoint or from an aesthetic one (give that they emit such a harsh white light). Colour balance is something that, hopefully, can be improved (as it has been with the latest generation of energy-saving bulbs) but the issue needs careful monitoring if LEDs are to be used to illuminate light-sensitive works of art. Fortunately, the conservation people in Yorkshire will be only too aware of the issue and won’t recommend anything that might, in any way, prove detrimental to the Pickering wall paintings.

  5. Of course originally you would have had the soft yellow glow of candles;)