Archive: January 31, 2017

Obstacle course

sheila-cleans-around-the-army We seemed to be hitting quite a few hurdles today. Joanna and Anna are not in top form thanks to a tummy bug, but as true Brits they come and start work before the others. It’s the last day for Sheila  – she has been incredibly efficient, precise and reliable with the difficult treatments, but most of all smiling and calm at all times especially when asked to remove six layers of varnish from one particular area on ‘King Sebastian’! She proceeded with great care and with a controlled series of gel solvents worked her way through in the most incredible heat and humidity.

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Half way through – but a long way to go

early-morning-at-the-archbishops-houseIt’s Monday morning and we are half way through our programme, and yet there is still so far to go. We arrive early at the Palace and I sneak into the garden to look at the birds that are happily eating the Archbishop’s papaya. One red whiskered bulbul, a white-cheeked barbet and a few others which I have not yet identified – although all common here they have such vibrant colours.

Inside the studio eight Archbishops await our attention.

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Sunday in Rachol

Early this morning we had a wonderful Mass for Juliet Burnand, one of juliet-burnand-ripChristopher’s sisters, who died peacefully in her sleep on Friday morning. The Mass was celebrated by the Rector, the Very Reverend Aleixo Menezes and all the seminarians were in attendance in the Seminary Church. It was very moving to have so many pray with us in such a beautiful and spiritual place. After breakfast with the priests we went back to the cleaning of the painting of ‘King Sebastian’

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Bird watching on the way to Rachol

I am trying desperately to impress Sebastian (Elizabeth’s husband rather than the King in the painting) with my bird watching skills. On our way to Rachol Seminary, I beg C. to stop mainly on very busy roads, to admire my latest ‘I don’t know what it is but it looks amazing’. With that C. would finally stop and I would tell him that it is too late we missed this incredible feathered creature. I then send a message to Eveny who is a bird expert along the lines of  “Reddish head, brown body and a darkish tail, the size of a crow, I think’’. She patiently sends me a photo of what I may have seen but not sure. I am recognizing quite a few but find it still frustrating.

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End of the week

We have reached the end of the week again, time just seems to fly; we reflect back on the week with mixed feelings. Happy and relieved for what we have achieved as a group, with one portrait relined, one portrait strip lined, two portraits patched, and three portraits have had their varnish partially removed together with some old repaint which has darkened badly. All this not to mentionrhea-and-sandesh-gilding the oil gilding for the frames which was happening somewhere quiet and without fans, as these blew the gold away. I only saw the results as Milena, Rhea, Sandesh and Caetano did not need me, except that Caetano muttered that it was definitely a woman’s job, and he did not have the patience and would not go back to it.

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Piero’s emotional departure

We are all back in Panjim. Piero and his wife and business partner Cristina, who is also a restorer, came to see what we are doing and was very impressed with the work done by all. He saw at first hand, first in Rachol and then in the Archbishop’s Palace, the difficulties we are facing with the irreversible and aggressive interventions done in the past. He was moved by all the contributions made by everyone who has participated in this programme. piero-sandesh-and-rheaIn his words ‘I had tears in my eyes when I said goodbye to all these amazing students, they have worked so hard and are so involved’. He wants to come back with other Italian restorers to help. It is truly remarkable how so many countries are joining in with one aim to bring back to life so much of the unique artwork of Goa.

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Back breaking day

Joanna is today in charge of the group in the Archbishop’s Palace. They are going to be very busy between the core unit (painting a still life with cool and then warm colours) and continuing the removal of the PVA used as binder by previous restorers in the relining of 2 portraits. I am so pleased that she was ready and happy to lead the team in Panjim.

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Conservation versus Restoration

Coming back to Panjim, it felt as if we had left town not just for a week but for a month. The work achieved by all the volunteers, the Fathers and seminarians last week was nothing short of a miracle; it was all done in such harmony that we all left energized with an inner sense of pure joy.

And so we came back to Panjim sad to leave Rachol but thrilled to be back at the Archbishop’s House. As the Emeritus Archbishop said to me last Friday night when we had the most pleasant evening ‘Rome is my second home’. Christopher and I are feeling that Panjim has become our second home.

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Somewhere between London, Italy and Goa – with thanks to Caecilie Vieth Vad, our Danish guest editor

caecilie-viethWhen I wrote to Caterina in November last year, enquiring about what she was up to, little did I know that it would lead to a tropical adventure in the South Indies on the ‘Restorers without Frontiers’ conservation project. Her reply came promptly with “Can you come to Goa?” What could I do other than say yes!

The London School of Picture and Frame Conservation was for ten months the one day a week where I would go for this wonderful escape into another world, discovering the secrets of paintings and treasures of materials. The classes with Elizabeth and Caterina introduced me to the field of conservation, which now I am studying at university in Copenhagen. I knew the time spent with them in Goa would be very educational – and demanding.

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Last day at Rachol Seminary

We expect up to 14 volunteers today to help to iron the painting and prepare to put it back on the temporary metal stretcher, which has already inflicted do bites on numerous victims!. Piero, Elizabeth, Caecilie and I meet up for breakfast in the Father’s refectory looking bleary eyed. I don’t think anyone is really aware of what they are eating, as our mind is on the numerous surface imperfections we need to ease out before the painting is put back onto the stretcher.

Piero goes off for his morning cigarette, while Elizabeth is already in the big drawing room where ‘King Sebastian’ is lying awaiting for further treatments. She asks a question and my brain is so full of what, if, but, maybe, that I have not heard what she is asking. This is only the beginning of our final phase of the relining, but I can already tell that I need to come back from Panjim for another day which I can barely afford, as time is running out fast.

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