Buckling frames, cracking paint and holes in the canvas.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat's latest exhibition isn't up to the quality it should be, but these neglected works are on display for a good reason.
Now in its 10th year, the gallery's 'Adopt an Artwork' project has raised more than $400,000 to restore more than 100 artworks. For the first time, the public can see exactly why some of the paintings desperately need money for conservation.
Gallery director Louse Tegart said the exhibition of damaged pieces was about putting their "worst foot forward" and showing the variety of issues facing art in their collection.
We don't receive any council funding towards conservation, and it's a really expensive and time-consuming process.Art Gallery of Ballarat director Louise Tegart
"Some of these pieces will go into forthcoming exhibitions when they're repaired, while others are just iconic works."
The gallery is in touch with specialised conservators across a number of disciplines: painting, sculpture, framing and works on paper.
Ms Tegart said a work like the Charles Rolando canvas (pictured) - which has a twin painting already conserved and on display upstairs in the gallery - could take three months to be fully repaired and re-framed.
"You really want the (restoration) work to be non-visible ... it's not just patching a hole, it's infilling to match the surrounding paint. Anything a conservator does has to be removable, so that 40 years down the track that wasn't the best method it can be reversed," she said.
Some artworks in the gallery's collection have been shoddily treated by former owners, with sections repainted in different colours or damage accrued when they were moved.
"In the 1950s and 1960s, there was trend that was more towards restoration, rather than conservation. There was a lot of overpainting of art works," she said.
Internationally, there have been some notorious examples of attempted restorations gone wrong. The Ecco Homo work in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church in Spain was painted over in 2012, transforming a flaking image of Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns into a sloppy and barely-human depiction of Christ.
Paintings like the Sidney Nolan piece included in the Ballarat exhibition have started to decay simply because of the materials used; his favoured medium of house paint now degrading severely.
"It's only in the last 20 or 30 years the gallery has had proper environmental conditions, climate and humidity control, so fluctuations in temperature can cause cracking," she said.
"In the early 20th century, there was a tradition of using quite a heavy vanish over the works. They'll all yellowed now. When you remove that, you get such a transformation."