Archive: January 19, 2017

Fish markets and dogs’ teeth

The alarm clock goes off at 5.00 am and Christopher jumps out of bed ready to explore the local fish market with Piero and Father Mario, I can barely utter two words ‘Forget it’.

It’s probably a little too early to suggest that it was Caterina’s idea that we all get up at this ungodly hour, so I  leave her peacefully in bed. Piero and I set off with Father Mario in the 4 wheel drive of the Seminary. It’s pitch black and there is no traffic, although we do see some children in school uniform – at 5:15 am? Apparently they are going off for tuition before school.

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Flipping it over again – with thanks to Joseph Travasso (guest editor)

josephWe the Goan students of The London School of Picture & Frame Conservation are in the thick of things! Each day, holds new expectations! Although I retired to bed last night with aching muscles all over my body joints (a result of being in variety of positions similar to doing extreme yoga), I sprung out of bed this morning looking forward with eagerness to today’s work.

Time is flying past so quickly in to the future and yet I feel being trapped in a time bubble, with artisans of the yesteryears, enjoying their work so intricate and meticulous that one is left in awe while inspecting the wondrous images, in the form of paintings, frescoes and carvings that we see at the oldest seminary in Goa or even Asia, if I am not mistaken.

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The wonders of Rachol

We are very lucky to be working in Rachol Seminary for many reasons. One is that the building is an amazing 17th century imposing construction, the walls are at least 2 feet thick and it keeps the temperature cool inside while it’s 33-35 C degrees outside. The details of the stone architraves, columns and other details are exquisite, not to mention the wealth in paintings, murals and so much more. We all know our way around the innumerable labyrinths now and do not seem to get lost. I told the students to follow the murals to know where to turn and when to take the stairs down.

We have the painting face up again and today’s main task is to take off every thick crisscross thread that is keeping the massive tear together and has formed a bulge at the base.

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An Indian roller (and not the bird!)

Having slept well in our cells, and after a good breakfast of lentils and tea, we started work in the wonderful space outside the rector’s office which has been turned into our workshop whilst we are here at the Seminary. Elizabeth arrived bright and early having said goodbye to Sebastian before dawn as he had to return to the UK. Joanna arrived with Milena, Eveny and Manu, shortly followed by Jo and Sandesh, and all were put to work on the painting. One of the first tasks was to carefully draw out a template on tracing paper in order to be able to fill the large holes with a matching old canvas which Piero had brought out from Italy. The key here is to make sure that the weave of the canvas matches the old canvas, and to line up the wharp and weft. After more surface cleaning and preparation we were ready to turn the canvas over.

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Dust, dirt and bats

Having enjoyed Sebastian’s blog from yesterday, I can only say that all is forgiven! Would he consider coming back another time so that we can express our appreciation properly?  There is no doubt that it is only with Christopher’s and Sebastian’s help, coordination and efforts providing all the supplies that Elizabeth and I are able to put all our efforts into the conservation/restoration for the Archbishop’s House and Rachol.

This morning one of our ex students Caecilie arrived from Denmark where she is studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. It’s always a pleasure to see her and despite the jet lag she got straight in to working on the project here at the Seminary.

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“There are good ways to interrupt tropical idylls, and ways better not… by Sebastian Roberts (no relation to King Sebastian)

As I was innocently finishing breakfast this morning with a fresh banana lassi, thinking quite hard about bothering to walk to the beach while my beloved had a massage, the same beloved suggested that I might be better employed writing a guest blog for the Restorers without Frontiers. Before I could come back with a witty quip about the relative merits and demands of massages and messages, Caterina, the founder of Restorers without Frontiers, sipping delicately on her second cup of Marsala tea, corrected her: “not guest blog – WORKER blog”.

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King Sebastian descends

We were in bed around midnight, so that a 4:30 am start meant we did not have much sleep! We loaded the car with all the equipment needed for Rachol and headed off in the dark. Luckily at that hour there is not too much on the road, as the locals don’t seem to like the idea of dipping their headlamps, so it is very difficult to see the road verge. Nevertheless we made it to Rachol pretty much on time (the Rector had asked us to be there by 6:00). The team tasked with bringing down the painting arrived after 7:00, and there was much shouting and voicing of opinions in Konkani (the local Goan language) as to which was the best way to deal with the problem

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Now the work starts

We arrived at the Archbishop’s Palace having had breakfast on our sunny terrace spotting the usual beautiful birds and having had delicious fruit with fresh yogurt. Christopher had hired a little red Ferrari (only the colour matches the original) and drops us with plenty of bags filled with all sorts of materials brought from the UK and also purchased in India.

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Back to school!

As near improbable as it seemed because of all the incognitos that life brings, we have made it back to sunny exciting joyful Goa. Our aim last year was achieved after an incredible commitment from all the students who had to jump through hoops leaving their full time jobs temporarily to be there every day and concentrating twenty four hours a day.

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New Year and new start for Restorers without Frontiers

Happy New Year to one and all – we are in the final stages of packing and preparing for the next stage of the Restorers without Frontiers project in Goa. We  arrive in Panjim on the 9th ready to start teaching on Tuesday 10th.

With one exception (she is studying in the UK) all the students are coming back for the second year, and we are much looking forward to seeing them all again, and to hearing about what they have done over the last 10 months.

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