Art Restoration and Conservation Workshop

July 2nd – 17th 2018

Fresco and Fine Art

The Art Restoration Workshop offers practical hands-on experience in the process of conservation and restoration of frescoes and fine art,  in the rich cultural setting of the Puglia region of Italy. By learning and actively working, participants also contribute to the conservation of the art and historical heritage of the region.

Details

The session begins with an introduction, practical hands-on experience, excursions, and lectures. After introductions which are common to all areas, participants may choose a specific area of focus.

There are no prerequisites required to participate in our workshops.

The frescoes that are worked on and studied are part of the rupestrian settlements (underground habitations) located in the Alta Murgia area.

Paintings on canvas are provided by local churches and private collections and are worked in our studio.

The session provides a practical focus, allowing participants ample opportunity for practice in restoration technique and creation ex-novo. The workshop includes seminars in Art History, Geomorphological studies, and Iconography. The course also includes several site visits, including visits to Sassi of Matera (Unesco World Heritage site), the Rupestrian Churches Park, study visit to the frescoes of Pompeii, overnight in Naples, museums, art exhibitions, and an afternoon on the beach or coastal town. 

The Frescoes

The Frescoes that are worked on and studied are part of the rupestrian Byzantine cave settlements located in the Alta Murgia area, which include the Masseria (“farmhouse”) of Jesce, the Masseria of Carpentino, the Masseria of Fornello, dating from 12th to 16th century.

Details

In these rural settings, the ipogei (underground settlements) represented important centres of social and religious activities. The communities of this area created their own cultural identity, finding artistic expression in works of religious iconographic art.

Between the 8th and the 12th centuries, small monastic and lay communities emigrated to Southern Italy. The high Murgia was one of the places of major activity due to it being the point of contact between two religious currents: the Latin Monastic tradition and the Basilian monks from Cappadocia (Turkey) and Armenia, of Greek Orthodox origin.

The restoration work includes procedures as: removing moss and calcification, stabilizing the plaster with lime injection, integrating missing portions of plaster, touching up of colours, etc.

Participants will also create their own frescoes employing traditional techniques and materials for making the plaster, sinopia underdrawings, and painting with natural pigments.

Beginning in 2014, we embarked on conservation and restoration on the site of Fornello which includes a Byzantine fresco cave, twelve additional cave dwellings, and a surrounding settlement dating back to the 3rd century B.C. It is one of the most interesting and historically important sites in the Murgia region of Puglia.

As the Fornello Project is in its earliest stages of conservation, participants will be some of the first to examine, study and work on a site in its most natural environment and state of deterioration. Students of universities may choose to develop a curators plan as to how to oversee the site and the project’s future.

We are thrilled about being the first to commence studies and undertake the conservation/restoration process of the Byzantine frescoes. The frescoes are comprised of three layers dating 1100, 1200 and 1350. They document a link and a time in history when Byzantine communities spreading from the Balkans were establishing themselves in Puglia in the rupestrian settlement. The projected goal is to restore each layer and its distinctive iconography and identity to life and to expose the earliest dated fresco.

The Paintings

Participants will be introduced to examples of 17th to 20th centuries paintings on canvas.

Details

Many of the artworks selected for the program are religious subjects. While the authors themselves are not very well-known, the patronage they received from nobility and church congregations, inculcated with a strong devotional culture, allowed them to create works of notable artistry. In 2017 we began a collaboration with a Italian family foundation with an exceptional collection of 17th to 19th century artworks who are lending us selected works for restoration and educational purposes.  Under the instruction and guidance of restorers Filip Petcu and Tonio Creanza, participants work on the various stages of conservation and restoration of the artworks: relining, cleaning and retouching and frame work.

Sessions may be complimented by restoration practices on statuary and frame making.

Program Contents

Workshops include:

  • Overview of the historical eras (prehistoric, roman, medieval, modern) and their related artistic currents.
  • Introduction to the history of Italian art and, specifically, the arts in the Alta Murgia region.
  • Iconography.
  • Geology and traditional natural materials used in antique arts and decoration.
  • Physics and chemistry as they are applied during the scientific research and restoration processes.
  • Preliminary techniques in the conservation process.
  • Analysis of the pictorial pigments and structures.
  • Common types of degradation and alteration.
  • Planning restoration and conservation projects.
  • Laboratory: practical restoration work.

The session provides a practical focus, allowing participants ample opportunity for practice in restoration technique and creation ex-novo. The session provides a practical focus, allowing participants ample opportunity for practice in restoration technique and creation ex-novo. The workshop includes seminars in Art History, Geomorphological studies, and Iconography. The course also includes several site visits, including visits to Sassi of Matera (Unesco World Heritage site), the Rupestrian Churches Park, study visit to the frescoes of Pompeii, overnight in Naples, museums, art exhibitions, and an afternoon at a coastal town or beach. The workshops are led by art restorer and conservator Tonio Creanza, director of Messors, and art restorer and iconographer Filip Petcu (University of the West, Faculty of Arts and Design, Conservation-Restoration of Painting Department, Timișoara – Romania).

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