Some seven years passed after the lifting , stabilisation and preliminary conservation of the the Winchester Palace Roman painted plaster before it became possible to begin the process of restoration for display. During this time a great deal of thought was given to the problems that would have to be faced and overcome if a successful restoration was to be achieved.
Theodore Sturge of Leicester Museum was very helpful and generous with advice and samples and suppliers, and indeed the basic form of the new painting support (a sandwich of glass fibre and polyurethane foam as a light but extremely rigid backing), was suggested by him.
A number of works of reference were consulted, the most important of them being ‘Conservation of Wall Paintings’ by P.Mora, L.Mora and P.Philippot published by Butterworths at the behest of ICCROM, 1984. This together with the BAR International Series volume No.142 ‘Roman Provincial Wall Painting of the Western Empire’ edited by Joan Liversidge, in particular the section on Technique of Restoration and Mounting by Claudine Allag. provided most of the technical information necessary for the restoration.
In any restoration scheme it is, of course, desirable that as much of the original material as possible should be retained. However, a projected weight of between one third and half a tonne for a restoration using all the recovered material taken together with the physical condition of the paint and painting support layers, indicated that a strategy similar to that followed by C.Allag should be pursued. This method involves removing much of the arriccio, leaving only about a three millimetre thickness, backing this with a layer of synthetic mortar of about the same thickness, then backing this with a light but very rigid support layer.
Adapting this method and using the support structure suggested by Theo Sturge, it was decided to use the structure shown below.