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Subject: Spanish Mural

Spanish Mural

From: Mar Gomez Lobon <info<-at->
Date: Monday, September 10, 2012
Susanne Traub <s.traub1 [at] gmx__de> writes

>John Greenwood <john.greenwood [at] canberra__edu__au> writes
>>...  I find it sad
>>that the elderly woman who repainted it is being referred to as
>>unspeakable and she should be condemned.  I feel it does highlight
>>some very important issues that as conservators we should discuss.
>>If, as I imagine, the elderly woman was a parishioner in the church
>>and she loved and cherished the mural, then what she did was done in
>>good faith. ...
>>If there are any Spanish conservators who live nearby then go and
>>give her a bunch of flowers and show your support for her strength
>>of feeling and faith.  Perhaps involve her in the tidying up of the
>>mural, if that is thought necessary and introduce her to the ideas
>>and practices of conservation.  Never too late to learn.

As a Spanish conservator who has worked in Australia for many years,
I happened to be in my homeland Spain when these news reports took
off from a little village to all over the world and put conservation
and restoration on the front page of newspapers and the web.

I agree there's a lot to say from a conservator's point of view: And
that is in my opinion, not to blame the poor old lady who did the
restoration. I also feel for her and think that she did her best in
good faith. She had actually been trying to have the painting
conserved for a long time, but since there was never any money put
aside for it she decided to do it herself (and didn't have time to
finish it!).

But the real problem here is that she was allowed to do it in the
first place. Unfortunately these home-made restorations happen quite
often in Spain. We have a huge body of cultural heritage, and a
large percentage of it is owned by the Church, meaning that it is
still 'alive' since people use it for ritual purposes. However its
management is often done 'in-house': some sculptures of saints are
periodically repainted and works of art sometimes restored by nuns
and devotes that have some sort of artistic skills.

Restoration in Spain is still far from being widely recognized as a
very skilled profession as it is in other countries, and there are
too many people practicing conservation without proper
qualifications, having done just some sort of short course. To me,
if these news highlight something, it is the need for more
consciousness and awareness of the job of the conservator and the
need for owners of cultural heritage to call for professional advice
before deciding on doing any restoration.  However, at the end of
the day, it is our responsibility to do more community outreach to
make people aware of our existence and will to help and advise in
these situations.

Mar Gomez Lobon, Paintings Conservator
Artco - Art Conservation and Museum Services
PO Box 148 Launceston
7250 TAS Australia
+61 487357433

                  Conservation DistList Instance 26:17
                Distributed: Friday, September 14, 2012
                       Message Id: cdl-26-17-004
Received on Monday, 10 September, 2012

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