Archive: February 9, 2016

Triumphant Tuesday

Elizabeth, together with husband Sebastian, arrived last night from London. It’s been wonderful to know that Elizabeth has been holding the fort in London and enabling us to do what we needed to do here in Goa.It was great to catch up with her and to be able to fill her in on all that we have achieved over the last weeks – I am so proud of all the students and the progress that they have made. Elizabeth has told me how much they have achieved in London which is great, I do miss them.

Today was a critical day. It’s Shrove Tuesday, which of course means that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and one of the key dates in the church calendar. We have been given a deadline yesterday that the bamboo scaffolding in the Archbishop’s chapel, which is where the team have been working on the statue of Jesus, has to be taken down by seven o’clock tonight.

Practically everyone on the team got up the scaffolding under Ruthie’s guidance and took part in the final rush to get the statue finished. The work included final cleaning by Sandesh and Rhea, regilding by Sandesh, Joseph, Rhea and making beautiful new rays by Eveny and Wynzel to go behind the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and final retouching  by Sandesh and Ruthie where necessary. I went up only once yesterday to check the work had been completed to our standard and I was impressed. It came right down to the wire, but we made it and when the Archbishop comes in for the first mass at 06:30 tomorrow morning he will see the cleaned and restored statue in all its glory!

Christ before and afterHeart before and after

While this was going on the other work did not stop, so retouching of the paintings, varnishing the ones where the initial retouching had been completed, taking the japan paper off yesterday’s paste reline – it’s been a hive of activity. In the middle of all this we had another journalist come in to interview the students and the staff.

I am happy the day came to an end as I was finally able to go to bed as I was not feeling at all well. Needless to say that Joseph kindly went out and bought me special drinks for rehydration.

Today’s joke: What is eternity? Two women saying goodbye.



Magic Monday – guest editor Ana Eliza de Ataide Lobo

“Time Treasures” pieces of dust of the time to the Portuguese , Goan is a Pirate’s child and no blood more creepy than the Discovery of its own history. A scientific timeline in the movement of time, where the treasures are kept to become Known. As treasure hunters. One treasure continues to clue the next Time- Treasure. when we understand how we continue to communicate with the space time continuum in tandem , This is truly a Treasure .

AnaElizaStudying to RESTORE lost treasures, one begins to understand what to look, how to look, what is the fracture, where to trace this age of fracture. If this fracture is a part of a two thousand year old tree , I begin to touch this time-continuum in consolidating and restoring this part of a tree two thousand years in the making. When we start to understand everything about the structure we understand everything about its environment. If there was an Ocean or not, surrounding it; Was this salty air or not; How high above or low below sea level. And the Real layer start to reveal as you go through this time-continuum, and understanding this Time, gives one the possibility to enter the space time -continuum.

In the art of Restoration, I am well-come to become a part of re-pairing with the time itself. In the wake of such experience, I am walking with time through the happenings of space time treasures. It is an important experience in the experience of world history. We today project programming tools do so deeply to understand what is structure more than form. Fractures and structures can explain really much about time. In fractures and structure for example, a tree, when we cut a tree, we know its history. Today co-efficient mathematical intelligence with quantum mechanics gives interesting result about how we can take this, so we can understand that or, how does an egg makes us think of the galaxy. And all this is structure The selection of fracture is the scientist in the study of structure.

Time Journeys ! To be able to freely move into the years before and after, making a journey into the past to see the future. Discovery and history is what was gifted to us and now we go with the position to understand order and Importance. To journey when you know a new- knowledge. And every bit of that knowledge is conserving a practice and this practice opens a way . This way becomes my Journey . And find one more new definition that the reason we are here to understand our future we must look to see our past. where simple tools , simply stick, makes fire, and space continues working in the time of journey forward / journey back to the ages. To see the way, you know the way, you understand how to use it in this moment, start to manoeuvre the way with knowledge. Where we can do this , how we will do this – its a choice. Restoration its a way to Multiple journeys – how our future begins to date the past.

With thanks to – manu mahadelica. AnaEliza de ataide lobo

It’s Carnevale in Goa!!!!

Carnevale photo by SanteshGoa gets into the spirit of Carnival in a big way, with a wonderful fusion of Goan, Indian, Portuguese and Brazilian. It’s loud, it’s lively, it’s crazy and it’s great fun!

Earlier in the day we had taken Jenny, Ruth and Cel out to see a spice plantation – amazing variety of plants and spices from cardamon to cashew to vanilla to bird chillie and many more (about 30 different spices), very well explained as we went around the 100 hectare estate which had been in the same family for over 350 years. Luckily we arrived early as we had the place pretty much to ourselves – by the time we left it was heaving!

We then took them to the beach – it was wonderful to see the joy of Jenny who had not been to the sea since she came to England four years ago – she was just like a small child confronted by the sea for the first time! Caterina collected masses of shells of all types and sizes, as always, and Ruth and Cel enjoyed the sun.

On our way back we diverted via Talegao and St Michael’s Church and met up with Rita and had the chance to see the amazing restoration work she is doing on the statues there – it’s a real challenge for her and she is doing a fantastic job with practically no resources. It is reassuring to know that we are not alone in the struggle for materials and removal of previous restoration. There is a real lack of understanding due to very poor restoration in the past, and so it is very difficult for the responsible bodies to  know what is available and what is best. Right now we are still observing what has been done in Goa. Once we have collected enough evidence of what has been done and how, only then can we have a better idea as to how this pilot scheme can be directed to the right people and the right conservation  projects.


Christian Art Museum – Old Goa

Museum of Christian ArtWe had all been invited to see the Christian Art Museum. The current curator Natasha was expecting us with a painting of Christ donated by a benefactor which is unfortunately badly flaking and we which we will try to stabilize it before we leave. The Museum is situated at the back of the  convent of Santa Monica. Coming in through beautiful thick walls and facing us in the Museum is the Church of Santa Monica which features as a backdrop, it really takes you aback.

Margaret of AntiochThe Museum is not big and each item is displayed expertly to give you space to walk around most of them. I can truly say that I had never seen any of the works of art before. We all knew where the inspiration came from, but they all had an Indian element that made them unique and interesting. Water and wineSilver crosses with a sun acting as a parasol but also as a Hindu element; wooden column that came from a local church with nag (the cobra) as a base – an ornament that reoccurs frequentl; Christ on the cross with nails in both feet that makes us understand that many of these artefacts were made from non Christians; a wine and water set made in silver where the handles are snakes, and when the lids are up you can see the head of the cobra!

Group Museum shot

Santa Monica ChurchCaterina up the ladderWe all stayed well beyond our expected time as we enjoyed it all so much. The visit ended with a visit to the Church of Santa Monica which is undergoing a complete transformation. The curator of the Museum is also in charge of this restoration project which comprises the reconstruction of some wooden altars (3), and complete regilding and cleaning of the main altar with 9 full size figures. It is only by coming here that you understand the enormity of the help needed to secure this heritage and how stretched the very few knowledgeable people are.

The week has come to an end  and we have to say goodbye to Joanna and Jenny, both leaving on Monday. Joanna has been with us from the beginning, although a first year student, she has worked like a true professional, and has been invaluable helping and mentoring the students from Goa. We will miss her company and help, and wish her a safe return to the UK.


When you take a huge leap …

As we leave our sleeping arrangements (which change on a 5 day cycle), everyone greets you with a smile, be it the weather or  the temperament of the Goans. It is uplifting and you cannot but start your day feeling positive and enjoying the chirping of the birds especially the huge number of parakeets at the Archbishop’s House.

The fans go on as we set foot in our temporary,  spacious and mostly ventilated workshop with windows and french doors leading onto an inner courtyard on one side and the well tendered colourful garden on the other. The students seem to work now outside on both sides of the studio depending on the heat and sun. The humidity level is going up and so is the temperature, the not so local ones (us) are melting . Every couple of hours someone will produce goodies to cool us down (Joanna and her refreshing lassi), Milena with some pomegranate, Eveny with some toffee coated with sesame, and all this is our respite from exhausting treatments we are now undertaking.

We have this week removed two previous and old face repaints which had left very little of the original, a difficult decision but satisfying as they had become dark blue with the ageing of poor oil and pigment used by the previous restorers.

We believe that the consolidation of the painting that was stuck on plywood board is now completed and we will breathe a sight of relief when the painting is finally relined (massive undertaking and very challenging as the paint is so powdery). With its past history there is always an unknown element, but we feel confident this is the right approach. I do not remember when I had so many and such challenging projects all at once. Everyone is feeling the pressure but still with the most beautiful smiles.


Can it get any busier?

The day started off working on a funding proposal in conjunction with City and Guilds’ Indian partner. The potential to extend the pilot project across India is potentially exciting, but at the same time would require a huge effort.

Once in the studio the students arrive more or less on time (some clearly find it difficult to get there for the start), and today’s highlight was Joseph bringing not one but six raw eggs to make tempera with – the big debate was were these town eggs or country eggs!

Many handsThere is so much positive energy running in our hot and sticky studio that it is becoming difficult to even stop in the evening.  We are half way through our syllabus, the exercises are being done, the indo/portuguese statues have been cleaned and consolidated. What is taking time and caution are the portraits of the Archbishops.

They have all been restored at some point, or rather  it would be truer to say that they have been repainted (more than once in some cases). The more we take off, the more there is to retouch and scalpel off carefully. I am now more than ever aware of how little time we have and how much needs to be completed.

Busy dayIf you could see the studio every inch of space is take by a project. Everybody is focused on their painting, at times I see more than one on a painting and I realize that they support each other and will clean, fill and retouch at a drop of a hat to move along someone else’s painting.

There is a WhatsApp group for the students here, and they are putting comments on at all times of day and night. It’s a great feeling to see them pulling together as one team.One of the students commented this evening that it feels that we have all been together for years, not weeks. ‘It’s like a family, we have all become friends, and if one person is missing we care and want to know why.’

Give before we can ask

With January behind us, February welcomed us today with a sticky 36 degrees. Even as we arrived at the Archbishop’s Palace in the morning it was noticeably warmer than the last few days, and Goa is apparently one of the warmest places to be at the moment. We are not complaining.

IMG_4673After a talk from Caterina about the benefits of rabbit skin glue in virtually every application of restoration, versus new and complicated, synthetic compounds, the majority of the students worked in the cloistered courtyard of the Archbishop’s house with the portraits in varying states of restoration, on tables carried outside, in order to benefit from the very even and soft daylight which allows the naked eye to see the paintings clearly.


The seven pictures which we are have been working on have had their surfaces cleaned, the old varnish removed, holes patched, tears consolidated, paint loss filled and retouched, and in some cases the fragile canvases strip lined, and we are now preparing the new varnish which will mark the start of the last phase of restoration for some of these portraits which is exciting.

Progress on paintings 160202 Progress on paintings  2 160202





sunaparantaLater yesterday evening we returned to Altinho Hill to Sunaparanta, the contemporary Arts centre in Goa, very close to the Palace, which has at its heart Cafe Bodega; this is a necessary place of sustenance to those of us who sometimes simply cannot survive without a proper tea and has the equivalent of a Great British Bake Off Winner as its cake supplier… The gallery was hosting an evening during its annual Sensorium Festival, which included a conversation with Nikhil Chopra. Nikhil is a performance artist and when asked some very interesting questions by his Westminster educated host, was extremely articulate in arguing the relevance of his art and particularly within Goa.

When asked about funding Nikhil replied “I believe we have to give before we can ask”, and I felt that this struck a chord with what The London School of Restoration is doing here in Panaji. We have to demonstrate what can be done to preserve heritage before we can ask people to appreciate the value of that heritage.

Guest Editor – Joanna Brogan-Higgins

1st of February

I need to keep focused to maximise the time we have here for two reasons. The first is to pass on as much knowledge as possible, and the second is to make sure that the information is processed properly. It is exhausting but highly energising because of the feed back from the students.

The students came back today with their own headed paper and their first estimates. I am seriously impressed by how professional these look, and how much effort is going into this project.

Jennie who arrived last night from London and is working today asked Manu what she expected from the course. She replied ‘nothing’, and I am just lost for words. So tomorrow I will ask the students to each write a paragraph as to what they expected and how they feel about what they are doing.

In the meantime I will leave you with a few images of how they are working.  We have a large room which has become the studio, but as you can see have expanded outside this into the cloister and gardens!






These are the ones who have it easy compared to Rhea and Sandesh who are high up above the altar on the bamboo scaffolding hidden away behind a cotton curtain – it’s cramped and hot, but they are doing an amazing job as these photographs show.IMG_4670 IMG_4671 Santesh and Jesus