Collectors urged to look after art properly

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The Independent Culture

An expert who mended three 17th Century Chinese porcelain vases accidentally smashed by a museum visitor fears that money is rotting away because collectors are not looking after works of art properly.

Specialist ceramic restorer Penny Bendall says recession-hit Britons could be losing fortunes by failing to take "simple steps" to conserve valuable pieces.

Ms Bendall, who hit the headlines three years ago after re-building three Quing Dynasty vases shattered at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, advised art owners to take a "Blue Peter" approach to conservation.

"The concern is that people who have already lost money in the recession could be watching investments literally rot away because art is being kept in the wrong place or the wrong conditions," she said.

"And often it's a matter of taking simple steps - the sort of thing they showed you how to do on Blue Peter. It's a bit like shoes - keep then clean and polished and they'll last."

Ms Bendall says she has become so concerned that she has organised a conference where specialists will gather to discuss the problem and offer advice to layman owners.

Conservators will meet in London on October 26 and 27 to share expertise on the conservation of paintings, textiles, metalwork, sculpture and ceramics.

Speakers at "the art of conservation" conference at the V&A in South Kensington, include Robert Child, Head of Conservation at the National Museum of Wales, Jo Dillon, Objects Conservator at The Fitzwilliam Museum, and Rupert Featherstone, who was Senior Painting Conservator for The Royal Collection.

"It's the first conference of its kind and is aimed not just at conservators but everyone interested in the care of art - whether they be private collectors or museum curators," she said.

"We want the public to take an interest because this is a problem that is potentially affecting a lot of people - not just millionaires with large collections."