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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Charis Theodorakopoulos

Dr Charis Theodorakopoulos, is a conservation scientist, Programme Leader in MA Conservation of Fine Arts and Research Ethics Lead in the Department of Arts and leads conservation science in MA Conservation of Fine Arts and MA Preventive Conservation. His research focusses on the development and evaluation of conservation treatments for works of art and heritage objects, in particular based on the development and testing of lasers and synthesis of smart gel systems, the control of microclimates and the characterization of cultural heritage materials with a special focus on coatings. 

He holds a PhD in Conservation Science from the Royal College of Art, London in partnership with the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser/ Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (IESL/FORTH), Greece and the Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (FOM Institute AMOLF) Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His research continued in post-doctoral work and include interaction studies of nanosecond pulsed UV lasers (ArF (193 nm) and KrF (248 nm)) with natural and synthetic coatings and varnishes of works of art. The multi-analytical investigation of the coating depth profiles on the sub-molecular level led to further research. In a recent funded programme (RCR01069), which match-funded a Northumbria RDF doctoral study and supported a post-doctoral research assistant in 2020, the mechanisms of the interaction of easel painting varnishes with a very short pulsed 2940 nm laser (Er:YAG) were studied. He was awarded a UKRI fund to design a similar multi-analytical protocol for the study of coatings of nineteenth century plaster casts in the V&A collection (AH/R000322X/1). Dr. Theodorakopoulos has generated further work based on the selectivity of conservation treatments which includes the synthesis and customization of ultrathin polymer films that are covalently bonded to flexible backing layers and can be used as hydrogels for art conservation treatments. These surface-attached ultrathin gels are currently tested on artwork coatings to provide a residue free, selective method for step-by-step thinning of soiled, aged and discolored varnishes. This research has received UKRI funding and will be continued until 2025 with a PhD studentship with the TATE (AH/R0004425/1).

Dr Theodorakopoulos contributes to international, national and local communities on subjects about the protection and conservation of cultural heritage objects and works of art. He has been invited as keynote speaker in international conferences, in colloquia and in public talks. He supervises 3 PhD students as the primary supervisor: 2 UKRI funded PhD students and 1 RDF/externally match-funded PhD student.

Recent Funding include:
Removal of synthetic varnishes from sensitive modern paints with innovative surface-attached gels – AHRC (2021-2025) CDP with Tate – AH/R0004425/1
The Er:YAG Laser Cleaning of Five 19th Cent. British and European Paintings: with a Critical Physicochemical Efficacy Evaluation – (2019-2020), privately funded project by US stakeholder Ed Teppo – RCR01069
The surface coatings of 19th century plaster casts and their conservation- AHRC (2017-2021) CDP with the V&A Museum – AH/R000322X/1
Advanced technologies and materials in the conservation and protection of cultural heritage (2013-2015) EU National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) – MIS 467332.
Partnership with XpectralTEK LDA (2017-2020)

Recent publications include:
Risdonne, V.; Hubbard, C.; Borges, V.; Theodorakopoulos, C., Materials and Techniques for the Coating of Nineteenth-century Plaster Casts: A Review of Historical Sources. 2021, Studies in Conservation, DOI: 10.1080/00393630.2020.1864896
Chillè, C.; Papadakis, V.; Theodorakopoulos, C., An analytical evaluation of Er:YAG laser cleaning tests on a nineteenth century varnished painting. Microchem J 158, 2020, 105086 DOI: 10.1016/j.microc.2020.105086
Chillè, C.; Sala, F.; Wu, Q.; Theodorakopoulos, C., A study on the heat distribution and oxidative modification of aged dammar films upon Er:YAG laser irradiation. J Institute of Conservation 43(1), 2020, 59-78 DOI: 10.1080/19455224.2019.1707699
Freese, S.; Diraoui, S.; Mateescu, A.; Frank, P.; Theodorakopoulos, C.; Jonas, U., Polyolefin-Supported Hydrogels for Selective Cleaning Treatments of Paintings, Gels 6(1), 2020 1 DOI: 10.3390/gels6010001
Kelsey, T.; Theodorakopoulos, C., Recent studies of the Hexham abbey painting collection. Hexham Historian 29, 2019, 23-34
Mateescu, A., Freese, S., Frank, P., Jonas, U. & Theodorakopoulos, C., Novel surface-attached gels from photo-crosslinkable polyacrylamides for the cleaning of works of art in Gels in the conservation of art. Angelova, L. V., Ormsby, B., Townsend, J. H. & Wolbers, R. (eds.). London: Archetype Books, 2017 p. 237-244
For a full list of publications please check here.