Major & International Projects
We have the exceptional resources and skills that exceptional projects demand.
We work on major conservation, restoration and exhibition projects around the world; they include overhauling the interiors of a 1960s yacht in Athens and treating monumental sculptures in the desert heat of Saudi Arabia.
Treatments are underpinned by our appreciation of traditional techniques and knowledge of the scientific advances taking place in the care of organic materials.
This makes us perfectly positioned to advise institutions venturing into exciting new territories that embrace the very latest technology, such as when we worked with the team at Westminster Abbey to scan an irreplaceable collection of statesmens’ death masks, including Lord Nelson’s, using the latest 3D technology.
With the largest team of specialists in the UK, we can complete major projects to a higher standard than workshops that lack our unrivalled skill set and experience. We can also complete projects far more speedily than many smaller restoration companies.
At whatever stage of a project our clients approach us, they have come to see us as reliable, professional and level-headed experts, whose knowledge and experience achieves spectacular results, even when working to tight deadlines.
Sculptures of Jeddah
Plowden & Smith was commissioned to restore one of the world’s most important modern and contemporary sculpture collections, located along the Corniche in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The collection had suffered extensive damage over the past few decades, in part due to constant exposure to strong winds and the high salt content in the atmosphere.
The 26 large sculptures, including works by Henry Moore, Joan Miró, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Victor Vasarely and Alexander Calder, were transferred to a specially created workshop or treated on site.
The treatments were as varied as the size and materials used in this impressive collection; they included painstakingly removing old lacquer finishes, repatinating and waxing or re-waxing, as well as painting and revarnishing.
Where a replacement finish needed to be applied, we liaised with the respective artists’ foundation or institution to ensure that our intervention was as close a replication of the artist’s original technique as possible. For a large work by Alexander Calder, recreating the correct finish meant sourcing a specific type of paint from the United States.
Working conditions were challenging and some restoration work took place at night when the temperature was cool enough to carry out certain treatments, for example when respraying a work by Arnaldo Pomodoro with black paint.
The seventeenth-century State Coach of the Speaker of the House of Commons is very rare. It was in use until the middle of the twentieth-century and is one of the oldest carriages in Europe.
The coach had to be thoroughly treated for woodworm infestation. We also painstakingly removed the heavy coat of old, discoloured varnish to reveal the original gilding.
We stabilised, filled and expertly retouched the painted wood panels which over the years had shrunk resulting in cracking and losses to the paint.
The original velvet on the interior panels of the doors was saturated with dust and deteriorating rapidly. We applied a gentle treatment to remove the dust while not dislodging the shedding velvet pile.
Eduardo Paolozzi, London to Paris
London to Paris is one of the last large-scale sculptures Eduardo Paolozzi made before his death.
Since its debut at the Royal Academy in 2000, the striking wood, bronze and steel sculpture has been on permanent outdoor display at the CASS Sculpture Foundation.
Mildew, moss growth, wood movement and warping, along with rot caused by trapped moisture were all conservation issues that Plowden & Smith had to identify and correct.
The ambitious project was carried out onsite by a small team of specialists who, with the aid of a crane, meticulously dismantled the monumental sculpture piece by piece, cleaning and repairing each section with authentic materials, as well as applying preventative conservation techniques to safeguard the long term surface appearance and structural soundness of this piece.
Plowden & Smith was a Public Monument & Sculpture Association (PMSA) 2016 finalist for its work on this piece.