An unprecedented wave of material experimentation is underway in the production of decorative arts and products of the “applied arts”. Important to the world’s creative heritage this body of work presents to the conservation profession new challenges and is raising questions about sustainable preservation practice. What are the conservation questions raised by vases made from wax, chairs made of folded paper, tables made of recycled clothing, interactive wall coverings incorporating electronic sensor, or cutlery made of recycled cans? What preservation challenges will conservators face when works are created using industrial waste, living organisms, exotic hybrid materials, or incorporating acoustic output, light and all manner of sensory stimulators? And what is the role of conservators in the artistic process? What should the conservator’s relationship be with living artists and designers? As creativity heightens so must the collaboration between artists, designers, curators, technologists and conservators if these cultural products are not to be lost, or at least so that we might enjoy...and use them...for as long as possible.
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