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Seeing the Big Picture

Early Summer 2011

In a darkened room, wearing a surgical mask and gloves, Falmouth’s Ian Primrose inspects a subject lying on a table with a portable ultraviolet light. Under the UV fluorescence, he can see blotches.

Primrose is not a doctor, but rather a master of alchemy, mystery, and craftsmanship. He is a professional art restorer and conserv- ator. The UV light reveals paint strokes of an earlier restoration.

Commissioned by museums, historical societies, art dealers, and private collectors, Primrose gives a new life to century-old paintings. To this writer, he is “Sir” Ian and exceptionally British. He practices his art with precision; he is methodical and professional all the way.

Restoring a 200-year-old painting is a labor-intensive skill requiring keen concentration. Primrose, who moved to Falmouth with his wife in 2001, is just the man to accomplish the task. His exp-erience tells him what may lie under the varnish, and what technique and solvents will work best. He discerns how to remove surface dirt and grime from the artwork’s previous restorations, and at all costs, he protects the original.

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