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Visit to the Chapel of the Langue of Italy in St John's Co-Cathedral

The Postgraduate Diploma students together with Dr JoAnn Cassar paid a visit to Girolamo Cassar's most renowned work, St John's Co-Cathedral; particularly to the Chapel of the Langue of Italy, on the 29 of March, 2004. During this visit, professional restorer Giuseppe Mantella explained in great detail the current conservation work which is being carried out in this chapel, including Grand Master Gregorio Carafa's monument, by Dott. Sante Guido and his colleagues. These restoration works are being co-ordinated by Dr Ray Bondin, Executive Coordinator of the Valletta Rehabilitation Project.

It was explained to the students that polluted air and the presence of salts inside the stone are having a negative effect on the lower areas and the ceiling of the Chapel. Sig. Mantella explained the criteria and principles that are being used to monitor and analyse the deterioration of the layers of colour and gold leaf on the wall paintings as well as the techniques used for cleaning the marble and stone from long years of superficial deposits. He also described possible measures to ensure the preservation of the artistic works within this highly decorated chapel. The visit was complemented with a look inside the left wing of the cathedral, where one of the paintings which previously hung on one of the chapel's lunettes lay stored, and which is now also the subject of studies for its conservation. The restoration of the two lunettes inside the chapel, and the painting, are part of the conservation project currently under way.


Giuseppe Mantella explaining the current restoration works at the Chapel



Taking a closer look at the current restoration works

Visit to Our Lady of Victory Church, Valletta

On the 28 of May 2004, the post-graduate diploma students, accompanied by Dr JoAnn Cassar, visited the church of Our Lady of Victory in Valletta. Here they met professional restorers from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, Lisa Shekede and Stephen Rickerby, who are currently documenting and proposing conservation procedures for the 18th century oil paintings covering the barrel vault of the same church. These restoration works are being co-ordinated by Dr Ray Bondin, Executive Coordinator of the Valletta Rehabilitation Project.

The paintings, which show episodes from the life of the Blessed Virgin, and are partly attributed to Alessio Erardi and partly to Enrico Reynaud, are in need of extensive conservation. Mr Rickerby explained the state in which the oil paintings where found, the documentation techniques being used, and possible interventions required to salvage them. This gave the students a rare insight into the conservation of historic paintings within a similarly important masonry building.



The postgraduate students discussing the restoration project with Stephen Rickerby


A general view of the barrel vault in the Church of Our Lady of Victory

Visit to the National Museum of Fine Arts at Valletta

The postgraduate students following the M.Sc. course on Conservation Technology for Masonry Buildings visited the National Museum of Fine Arts at Valletta with Perit Ruben Abela, Visiting Senior Lecturer with the Department of the Built Heritage.  The aim of this visit was two-fold since within the Museum, at the time of the visit, Heritage Malta was carrying out two specific projects directly related to conservation.

The courtyard of this palatial building was being restored by the Architecture Conservation Section of Heritage Malta together with a group of vocational students.  The courtyard walls were being stripped of the previous plastic- and oil-based paints which had flaked and resulted in the building being aesthetically damaged.  The postgraduate students saw the way in which the walls surrounding this space had been damaged by various alterations carried out during different phases of use of this building, and how these damaged areas were being restored through plastic repair and, in specific areas, by stone replacement.

The other project underway within the Museum itself was the reactivation of passive environmental control systems which had been designed and installed within the original building. Also under way was the removal of the waterproofing membrane which had until then covered the roof; this was being followed by the restoration of the “deffun” layer which had previously protected the roof.  This project was being carried out in different stages, and simultaneously the internal environment on the upper floor is being continuously monitored through electronic dataloggers, which data is being downloaded and viewed in real time by the Preventive Conservation Section at the Diagnostic Science Laboratories of Heritage Malta.

Architectural tour of  Zejtun

An architectural tour of Zejtun was organised for the postgraduate students by Perit Ruben Abela in April 2010.  The aim of this tour was to familiarise the students with the different architectural styles employed in Malta’s vernacular architecture commonly found in local towns and villages.  The different forms of urban development within such old urban areas were also explained to the students during a walking tour of the town.

The students were shown on-going restoration works on the Parish Church and the various forms of deterioration processes within the fabric of the building were discussed on site.  Also viewed and discussed was the completed restoration work on the Oratory of the Blessed Sacrament next to the Parish Church, where Perit Abela explained the various interventions which were carried out on this building. 

The last part of the tour included two other conservation and restoration projects which were carried out during the past few years, where the students were asked to visually assess the current condition of these buildings.  These included the conservation and restoration works on the Old Parish Church which were completed three years ago.  It was noticed that due to rising damp, loose pointing in some areas was already evident.  The façade of the Luqa Briffa Garden was also viewed; this was restored seven years ago and it was evident that no maintenance had been carried out on the building since then.  The message delivered to the students through such case study was the importance of having a proper maintenance plan designed as part of the restoration project, and the emphasis to be made to the owner/client/curator on the need to implement such plan on a regular basis.


Next Courses

The following courses are due to open in October 2018:

M.Sc. in Conservation of Decorative Architectural Surfaces 

(Preparatory Programme).

Last Updated: 8 April 2011

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