The VMC Research Group at Northumbria provides a dynamic hub for researchers and students engaged with the historical and theoretical analysis of art, culture, design, museums and architecture. The group acts as a forum to bring together researchers across the university and offers an annual programme of events relating to current issues in visual and material culture research
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Richard Mulholland

Vice Chancellor’s Fellow in Art Conservation

Conservator and Technical Art Historian. His research is primarily concerned with analysis of the materials, technique, and studio processes of artists from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, particularly focusing on artists’ use of modern synthetic materials in drawings. His book on the materials of the American sculptor, David Smith (1906-65) will be published by the Getty in 2021.

Richard is also engaged in research on the conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage collections at risk in conflict zones. He is a partner in HUNAR, a collaborative project involving the provision of collections care education for students and professionals in post-conflict Afghanistan. He has spent time working in Kabul during several projects funded by the British Council Cultural Protection Fund in partnership with the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society (FCCS) in Afghanistan, International Fine Art Conservation Studios, Bristol and the Afghan-led S&N Consultancy in Montreal.

At Northumbria, Richard teaches on the Theory and Practice modules of the Conservation of Fine Art MA.

Richard studied Art History at the University of Leicester and Conservation of Fine Art at Northumbria. He completed his PhD in 2010 at the Royal College of Art, London. Before joining Northumbria in 2019, he spent fifteen years as a museum Conservator, working for several museums, including the V&A, the Tate, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Harvard Art Museums. He carried out post-doctoral research at the Bodleian Library on the identification of eighteenth-century artists’ pigments using portable Raman spectroscopy, XRF and hyperspectral imaging, in order to accurately reconstruct a lost colour chart by the Austrian painter Ferdinand Bauer (1760-1826).

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5220-3078
Academia.edu: https://northumbria.academia.edu/RichardMulholland


2018-2019: Restoration of Conflict Damaged Paintings at the Afghan National Gallery (British Council/DCMS Cultural Protection Fund):in collaboration with the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society, Afghanistan, International Fine Arts Conservation Studios, UK and S&N Consultancy, Kabul/Montreal. Contributing to three CPF outcomes (Heritage safeguarding and restoration, capacity building of staff and public awareness), the partners assessed staff capacity in heritage preservation, assessed the condition of 150 paintings and fully restored 31 extremely badly damaged paintings.

2020: HUNAR: Heritage Unveiled: A National Art Restoration Project (British Council DCMS/Cultural Protection Fund) in collaboration with the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society, Afghanistan, International Fine Arts Conservation Studios, UK and S&N Consultancy, Kabul/Montreal. Hunar (‘Fine Art’ in both Pashto and Dari languages) builds on previous expertise in the area to build capacity, and assess the impact of a number of post-2001 Western-led interventions into the preservation of damaged cultural heritage. It investigates how different pedagogies for training cultural heritage conservation in Afghanistan might be effected for a wider cohort of students as the country moves towards recovery and, post-COVID19, the possibility of making use of distance learning strategies in Afghanistan.

Recent Publications:

Mulholland, R. David Smith: The Artist’s Materials, Getty Conservation Institute (in progress)

Mulholland, R. Analysis of Watercolour Pigments Found in Thaddeus Haenke’s Eighteenth Century Colour Chart and Attributed to Ferdinand Bauer, Ciencia y Arte VII. Ciencias y tecnologías aplicadas a la conservación del patrimonio, Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Madrid (In press).

Mulholland, R. The Mechanism and Materials of Painting Colour ‘Ad Vivum’ in the Eighteenth Century. In: Balfe, T., Zittel, C. and Woodall, J. (eds.) Ad vivum? Visual materials and the vocabulary of life-likeness in Europe before 1800, London: Brill, 2019.

Mulholland, R., Howell, D., Beeby, A., Nicholson, C. and Domoney K. Identifying Eighteenth Century Watercolour Pigments Using in situ Raman Spectroscopy, XRF and Hyperspectral Imaging’. Heritage Science 5:43, 2017.

Mulholland, R. Ferdinand Bauer’s Flora Graeca Colour Code. Technology & Practice: Studying 18th-Century Paintings & Art on Paper. Archetype, 2015.

Mulholland, R. ‘And I know damned-well what he wanted!’ Deliberate Alteration and Interpretations of Intent in Several Late Sculptures by David Smith. Authenticity and Replication: The “Real Thing?” in Art and Conservation: Archetype, 2014.

Mulholland, R. Multiplicar las Asociaciónes: David Smith y Pinturas Modernas, 12a Jornada de Conservación de Arte Contemporáneo, IIC-GEC, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, February, 2011.