Work more work
I woke up this morning listening to the sound of rain, the air is marginally cooler as we drive to the Archbishop’s House. Part of the crew greets us, we have formed such a close knit bond that a single glance is enough to communicate one’s mood and feelings. Milena is as usual the first, followed by Sandesh today and Jo who has returned from Mumbai. I can positively say that yesterday’s very light varnishing of King Sebastian has been a milestone. The conservation started over a year ago and painstakingly the artwork has been uncovered with love and dedication. We will revarnish the portrait with a varnish that cuts out a major part of UV light to preserve the colours. Only when the scaffolding comes down can we admire properly the work carried out by such a dedicated team. It was a short lived moment of elation as we concentrated on our latest fascinating and exquisite project.
This latest project is by far the one of the worst condition paintings that I have ever encountered, not considering the early copy of Murillo from Ireland which took us close to 4 years to resuscitate. We have here St Francis Xavier who is levitating during Mass among an illustrious congregation. The colours are still so vibrant and the quality of the brushstroke is so delicate that we keep pausing to admire the details. With precision and enormous care, we are all unsewing the the stitching done randomly to hold the canvas together. Roberto from CTS has flown in at my request, to deliver some special materials for the conservation and I am truly grateful, as we want the best materials to preserve such works. It was a chance to introduce him to the group who have forged a good working relation with suppliers.
In Panjim, the work continues on the four more challenging portraits of archbishops due to the previous repainting, the nailing on the front of the stretcher, the thick varnish over thin paint, freeing the canvas from a enthusiastic gluing on a 2mm split plywood. It all takes time and each one of us has a task which he or she will complete according to the complexity of the treatment. We are not expecting to finish the project before leaving, the students will complete them.
Dinner at the Fisherman’s Warf, definitely not my favourite, the quality has gone down and it is too busy.