Dr Charlene Vella from the UM's Department of Art & Art History presented her latest Madonna del Soccorso Triptych Mdina Cathedral Museum research project at the inaugural conference of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Visual Culture (CVC) conference, held on 24-25 February 2020.
Titled ‘Reconstruction: Methods and Practices in Research, Exhibitions, and Conservation, the conference was held at Trinity Hall, Cambridge on 24 and 25 February 20202 and convened by Alexander Marr, Director of the CVC.
The conference was held in collaboration with the CVC’s partners, the V&A Research Institute (VARI) and the Bard Graduate Center with Prof. Sven Dupré (Utrecht) as keynote speaker. The aim of this conference was to bring together various professionals who are working on the nature, role and future of reconstruction as a method and practice.
Chaired by Spike Bucklow (Hamilton Kerr Institute, Cambridge), Dr Vella presented her research in a panel alongside conservator Edward Cheese (Fitzwilliam Museum) who specialises in the care and repair of western manuscripts and printed books, and Zachary Stewart and Amy Gillette (Texas A&M University and The Barnes Foundation) who presented the latest findings from The Mancroft Font Canopy Project.
Dr Vella’s talk ‘Reframing and presenting Antonello da Messina’s nephews’ Renaissance altarpieces’ reflected on the pros and cons of reconstructing historic frames, an area where interpretation and authenticity are drawn into tension and which has been the subject of considerable debate at major museums worldwide. She presented the final set up for Antonio de Saliba’s Madonna del Soccorso Triptych which is due to be returned to the Mdina Cathedral Museum following its intense diagnostic testing, 3D scanning, and conservation of the panels, in a new framework that will be a first for the Maltese islands. The Madonna del Soccorso Triptych project was made possible through the University of Malta, the Malta Airport Foundation and the Mdina Cathedral Museum. Architectural historian Carmel Spiteri assisted Dr Vella on this project who also attended the conference.