一代一代下來，修復專業開始慢慢成形，若要追溯修復的發展史，在廣義的定義下它發生的時間很早，如我剛剛所說的希臘羅馬時期；但狹義的定義中，時間就會推的比較晚，大約1960年代第一本修復理論的書才真的被寫出來，由義大利羅馬中央修復學院（現為高等修復研究院）的布蘭迪（Cesare Brandi）教授於1963年寫的《文物修復理論》（Teoria del Restauro）這本書，它是修復領域的人必須讀的經典。我們在義大利的時候就是不斷重複研讀這本書，它裡面的內容非常生動有趣，不像一般死板的學術論文，它是從布蘭迪各時期、各地方的工作經驗所挑選集合的，共彙整八個重要章節成為這本修復理論。這樣的義大利文論述對我來說，是用一種很纏繞綿密的語法，敘述方式很囉唆，它不停地重複描述，可是都在形容同一件事情，將抽象的觀念具體呈現出來。而修復的層次感其實跟語言文化是密切相關的，最好可以實際去歐洲各國或義大利學到當地的語言，這樣才有辦法真的進入它專業的系統。我們在義大利的研讀、實習還有實作過程，花費的時間相當漫長，但所得到的經驗或能掌握的細緻度，通常也會和一般人不太一樣。
我在義大利待了最久的城市翡冷翠（佛羅倫斯），它是文藝復興的發源地，一般選擇去義大利讀修復這學門的，大都會選擇羅馬跟翡冷翠這兩個城市，羅馬基本上是全世界歷史最悠久的城市之一，也擁有全世界最多的文化遺產。而翡冷翠則因為它是文藝復興之都，也因為它每個世紀定期發生的大水災，翡冷翠市中心貫穿了一條很美麗的河流叫做阿諾河（Arno），這條阿諾河大概每一個世紀都會氾濫一次，包括達文西都曾經受到委託前去治水，但能發揮的效用都不大。1844年曾發生一次很大的水災，市政府基本上已實施加強河道結構的措施，但是在1966年11月3日的時候，沒想到一天二十四小時內，居然下了大概一年的雨量，河水潰堤把整個翡冷翠淹沒了。如果有機會到翡冷翠去旅遊，會看到很多屋子上面都有石牌寫著「L’acqua d`Arno arrivò a quest`altezza」，那表示水位的高度就到那個位置。最高曾淹到六公尺高，水一退走就是整地的爛泥與成堆的漂流木。
我在翡冷翠這個城市待得越久，就越覺得其實讀什麼學校不重要，是否遇到名師也沒有那麼重要，長時間待在這座城市才是最重要的，因為這座城才是一直不斷教育你修復是什麼的老師。在翡冷翠平時大家就是各忙各的生計，可是一談到某件事情的時候他們會出現一致的堅持，所有販夫走卒、士農工商，大家都有一個想望──他們希望這座城市就一直維持在三、四百年前的樣子。所以在這古城區、歷史城區（Centro Storico）裡面，它的改建史是越改越舊。2009年發生一件大事，原本都市建設計畫決定要蓋輕軌，結果市議員與市民們手牽著手出來發出反對的聲音，不准在這城市內建輕軌，要蓋輕軌必須在城市最外圍，不准在城內規畫路線。這城市有太多尊重要的雕像安置著，宛如傳說中的大衛又再度現身，他又開始帶領群眾抵抗某個入侵的勢力了。波隆納大學（Universita di Bologna）的教授開始測量震動可能造成的危害，發現輕軌的微震真的會形成威脅，因為《大衛像》的腿部已經出現裂痕，這些研究者評估出它斷裂或傾倒的可能。大家聽到這個消息還得了，《大衛像》倒了不就等同這城市也倒了，所以輕軌絕對不准進來。你們可能沒辦法想像，連大型公車的路線後來也被撤掉，不准進城，所以去翡冷翠旅遊行李必須拖一段距離，才能自火車站進入舊城中心，還蠻遠的。但這座城市就是以這樣的心情跟態度，在面對古蹟的保存與維護。
Disasters and Restoration:
The Making of a City That Treasures Culture and Art
───── Shun-jen Tsai
Time: March 21, 2015
Shun-jen Tsai’s speech “Revisiting Li-Shui”
Location: Shuijiaoshe Cultural Village
Compiled by Hsin Chen
Translated by Hui-jun Huang
All difficulties in restoration I hadare related to “concepts.”
Art restoration is a delicate and complicated art, and is a profession that is definitely hard to explain in a short passage. It widely covers multiple professional fields. Basically, its goal is to extend the life of cultural property like an artwork or a historic site. Art restoration, however, is not a newly started profession and may be dated back to before Christ. The earliest record of art restoration can be traced back to ancient Greek and Roman times. After conquering other cities, some emperors who “cherished their possessions” would hire a craftsman to remove faces of those sculptures with beautiful or muscular bodies in castles and palaces of their enemies, and made their own faces on the sculptures. The reason behind doing such curious works was to preserve arts with an alternative way instead of destroying them completely. Of course, motivations in such reservations can vary widely, and different treatments were used on different objects.
After generations, the art of restoration has developed itself to what it is today. To trace the history of art restoration, in a broader definition, it can be considered that it started quite early—in ancient Greek and Roman times, as I just mentioned; but in a more precise sense, it emerged much later in the twentieth century. The first book about theories of art restoration, Teoria del Restauro (Theory of Restoration), was published in 1960s by Casare Brandi of Istituto Centrale per il Restauro (now known as Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro). The book is a must-read for people who study art conservation and I, of course, also have read this book for many times when I was in Italy. Unlike other academic writings that tend to be boring, Teoria del Restauro is a fascinating and interesting book, which consists of eight important and well-known cases of Brandi in various places and periods.
Its discourse style was tangled. It describes things in a tedious manner, and often portrays the very same thing repeatedly with multiple sentences. The purpose is to specify an abstract concept. In fact, the perplexing layers of the language are closely connected to the art of restoration itself. Therefore, I recommend everyone who is interested in such a field actually go to France or Italy and learn the local languages to really enter the professional system of it. We have spent quite a long time studying, learning and practicing in Italy, and we really have acquired many experiences and abilities to deal with more details than others can do with them.
After leaving Italy, I went to work in the United States and the Netherlands for about eight or nine years. During 2011 to 2012, I returned to Taiwan and met with a trend of urban renewal. In that time, many historic sites, old houses and even some architectures built in Japanese period in Taiwan collapsed or being burnt down for unknown reasons. It is strange that all such incidents happened at particular times: a few days before they were appointed as historic sites. All these old buildings had existed for more than twenty years, and were destroyed overnight by some mysterious predestination. The stranger thing is, however, no decent law in Taiwan can well preserve a historic site. Several years ago, I checked Cultural Heritage Preservation Act, and I found that even with this law, people who had damaged or destroyed an appointed historic site on purpose could only be fined up to about one million dollars. From our law, we can easily see that our attitudes and basic concepts toward cultural heritage conservation in Taiwan are highly unacceptable. No wonder all the regulations and managements in this field are either broken or discontinued. Therefore, after I went back to Taiwan and started to actually join in various projects, all problems I have encountered are related to lack of concepts of restoration that needs to be comprehensively explained or constructed.
Just like human beings,
artworks and all the cultural heritage will slowly grow old.
In fact, artwork and all cultural heritage, like human beings, will slowly grow old and deteriorate. They start their life cycle as soon as you pay for them, it just takes time for them to be broken and get restored. However, an extremely old artwork will need to be managed carefully, and you should be thoughtful of the environment of its location. No matter putting it in your home, a museum or other spaces, you may want to check the temperature and the humidity of the space. Unlike that in other countries, in Taiwan, the temperature is hard to be maintained at 20℃ or 22℃±2, so it is good enough to maintain the temperature at a range of 25℃±3 (between 22℃ to 28℃). The humidity is more important to be controlled. The humidity is related to the amount of water in the air, and it should be maintained at about 55%. Generally speaking, in Western countries, we often control the humidity at a range of 52%±2. In Taiwan, however, we have been used to higher humidity, and I recommend controlling the relative humidity under 60%. The reason behind it is a research of Professor Tsang-chyi Shiah, who found that artworks would encounter a common hazard—molds—if the relative humidity was over 60%. In an overly humid environment, molds can grow fast and become a serious threat to works of art. But even with comprehensive protections, cultural heritages will still grow older slowly. When the inner structure or support materials of it cannot fight gravity or other external forces, it is time for the art piece to have a proper restoration work.
A restoration work is more than wearing workwear and taking tools to clean a piece, and the progress of the work is also more than just enhancing structures, adding materials and painting colors. The first step of restoration is “examining and keeping record,” which can be simply explained as “taking photos.” When an important piece of cultural heritage, art or ancient building starts to have problems, the way to pin down real causes is taking lots of photos.
Actual restoration work enters at the third step in the progress. The work is not like having surgery in the nineteenth century that would directly start without any previous observations; it is more like modern medical practices which need many careful examinations like X-rays, MRI and blood tests. A piece of art or cultural heritage will not be sent for us to restore until it has been examined and the cause of deterioration has been specified. It is really important to have a decent and careful plan before restoration takes place. Yet, in Taiwan, the biggest problem is neither examination nor restoration, but in maintenance after the restoration works. It is quite common to see some temples that have spent tens or hundreds of millions of dollars and many years to restore their cultural property, but forsake them after the case ends. It is a fatal flaw in Taiwan’s art conservation. In fact, cultural heritage of historic buildings and artworks are just like cars, and they need people to plan regular maintenance for them. This is the concept that I really want to share with more people.
When in the Netherlands, I worked as an intern for Limburg Conservation Institute, Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL) and was often assigned to work in Bonnefantenmuseum, which is one of the most important museums in southern Netherlands. Every day between about 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., groups from various schools would be allowed to enter earlier before the museum officially opened at 10:30. Therefore, every morning, the first group entered the museum had always been three or four year-old kindergarten children, and the age of visitors would grow older and older as time went on later that day. We worked in a completely open and transparent space surrounded only by glass, and all those kindergarten students would watch us working outside of the glass as if they were watching animals in a zoo. Every one of them was watching us like they were watching chimpanzees, and I was wondering how would the teacher introduce us to the children. I was surprised to hear the teacher saying: “All the paintings we see now are from more than a hundred years ago, and they will also be old and sick. But all these men and women are trying to cure them.” In such a way, the concept of “restoration” entered the mind of these children that were three or four years old, and it had been planted and was well prepared to grow in their brains.
The education of it is really important, and this is especially true after I returned to Taiwan. In my opinion, the first group that needs to learn the correct concepts is administrators of various temples. Why is that? The answer is because the administrators are the most connected ones with their temples—they stay in temples and love them more than anyone else. So who else should be told of related information before them? In addition, when an idea of administrators has been changed, then everything in temples will be changed accordingly. This morning, I worked in Guan Di Temple in Baji Jing, Tainan, and today is a special day—the birthday of the Earth God. So all the worshipers brought lots of incense with them to burn in the temple. We were working on the top of pillars, and thus become walking range hoods to absorb smoke of those burning joss sticks. Even now, I still smell like those joss sticks burned in the temple. So I just suggested the administrator of the Guan Di Temple ask every worshiper to bring only one joss stick per person, and he accepted the suggestion immediately. You can absolutely feel that instant change. In addition, quality and life of the pillars’ paint can be better and longer because of so.
The city itself is the best mentor
of restoration education.
Florence, the city that I had spent the longest time to stay in when I was in Italy, is the origin of the Renaissance. People who study art restoration in Italy often choose to stay in Rome or Florence. Basically, choosing Rome is because it is one of the most historic cities that have the most abundant cultural heritage. Yet Florence, besides being the origin of the Renaissance, is also a great city to study restoration works for it has suffered from floods once every century. Arno, which is a beautiful river that goes through the city of Florence, floods about every one hundred years. It has been through many regulation works, including once being worked by Leonardo da Vinci himself at the quest of the Medici family, but all these works turned out to be ineffective. In 1844, a huge flood hit, and they basically enhanced structures of their buildings then. But later on November 3, 1966, about a year’s amount of rainwater poured in the city within one day, and the overflowing river devoured the whole Florence. If you have a chance to go visiting Florence today, you will see a phrase of “L’acqua d`Arno arrivò a quest`altezza” is written on many houses there to indicate the water level in the incident, some were up to six meters high. After the flood, the streets were covered with mud and pieces of driftwood. This very disaster was followed by ten years of restoration works of cultural heritage from year 1966 to 1976. You could imagine the huge amount of art pieces damaged by the flood so that it took ten years to restore. As the origin of the Renaissance, Florence was full of precious gems of art, and their fate were chained with the Arno River. After the incident, a comprehensive system consisted of restoration education, institutes and strategies were established, and that was the reason behind my choice of studying and working as an intern there to acquire my master’s degree.
The longer I had stayed in Florence, the clearer that I knew that the most important thing was to live in the city instead of entering a famous school or having well-known teachers, because the city itself was the best mentor that kept teaching you what restoration is. In Florence, people had their own business to take care of, but they shared an insistence on one issue. They—people from all walks of life—had this one thing in their mind: they wanted the city to be like it had been looked like since three hundred or four hundred years ago. Therefore, in this old and historic city, all the buildings had been renewed to be in an older style. In 2009, a big event happened: in the urban planning, the government decided to build a light trail in the city. Later, all the citizens, councilors and the mayor of Florence gathered together to express their disagreement on having a light rail in the city, and urged that the light rail should only be built outside of the city instead of having it inside, for too many important sculptures existing in the city. Just like that, it seemed that the legendary David himself lived again to lead the people to against an invading force. Professors from the University of Bologna started to assess risks of vibrations brought by light rails, and found that they could be a huge threat indeed. Since cracks could already be seen on the legs of the statue of David, researchers estimated the time when it would collapse or break because of the vibrations. Such shocking news panicked the citizens. It would be the end of the city if the statue of David had collapsed. Therefore, the light rail was strongly rejected, and even buses were refused. It might be hard for you to imagine, but even buses were removed from the city, so if you visit Florence you may have to drag your baggage for a long distance. This is how the citizens of Florence treat their historic heritage and this clearly shows their attitude towards preservation and conservation.
Restoration is interesting actually. The profession covers the restoration of art pieces, cultural assets and historical buildings, but if you enter this professional field, you can clearly see that we, in fact, are divided by the materials we work on. In this field, there are about thirty or forty categories of restorers. Imagine that you walk into a castle in Europe, and everything you see can be classified into a certain category. For example, clothes of the aristocracy and beautiful tapestries belong to fabric restoration; each kind of armors and weapons used in war belongs to different restoration professionals. Painting restoration can also be divided into various kinds, like that of oil painting or art on paper. Sofas belong to furniture restorers. Clocks also have their own professional restorers… It is common to see a restorer of a profession inherited the skills from his ancestors. Sometimes, a restoration profession is shared in a family. To professional restorers, it is extremely difficult for them to change to another category, because it means spending lots of time to learn it anew. Furthermore, one is often not able to take care of every material. Once I worked as an intern in a paper restoration studio, the craftsman there asked me to stop touching the paper in the end. I was just not able to handle papers. You knew the restoration process, but you just could not do it. It was just out of your reach. Everyone has different personalities, skills and talents, and thus they will step on different paths.
Carrara, a city in central Italy, is located in the north side of Toscana. Many well-known sculptures from Michelangelo were made by stones from there. Michelangelo personally visited Carrara to choose stones for his use, and great artists like him might have a more precise insight than machines today when choosing materials like marble. When choosing, it is important to observe if it has too many cracks or fissures, or they may cause huge problems afterwards. I do not know if you know this, but the stone used to make the statue of David was not originally sculptured by Michelangelo. Forty years before Michelangelo started to make the statue, the stone had already been moved to Florence and sculptured by another craftsman but abandoned later in a warehouse. The craftsman was excited to have this huge stone to make his artwork, but when he was making his draft he saw a small fissure at the part of the lower leg, so he decided to abandon the project. Later, after forty years, when Michelangelo saw the stone, he pointed at it and said that David was inside of it and needed to be released by his chisels. That was indeed a miracle, because the condition of the stone was not able to sustain the weight of the sculpture, which is totally 7.1 meters high and weighs more than five hundred kilograms with the base. The sculpture is very heavy, and its legs need to carry a huge weight, so it is safe to say that Michelangelo’s skills were a perfect sum of knowledge of science and mechanics.
Fresco is the earliest painting method of human beings.
So why marble can be used both in making sculptures and those so called “frescoes”? The reason is that marble mainly consist of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), and the basic material used in frescoes is calcium hydroxide which can be made from heating and cooling calcium carbonate in water, which is also a progress of making quicklime into hydrated lime (Ca(OH)2). Hydrated lime will be used to make a fresco. When making a fresco, initially the hydrated lime is contained with abundant water, and it is just like slime, so we need to add some inert materials like sand in the slime to make various plasters with different proportions of sand and hydrated lime to be used in making frescoes. When the proportion of the inert material is higher, the plaster made will be called as arriccio, and when the proportion of the sand is lower, the plaster will be called as intonaco.
Fresco actually started in BCE and may be tracked back to the period when human beings started to appear. Lime was easy to find, and paintings could be made as soon as one had gathered enough materials. Fresco is the earliest painting method. You need “paints” to finish your painting but what is a paint exactly? The simple answer is that paints are mixtures of pigments and vehicles. Pigments can be natural, mineral or synthetic, and can be mixed with liquid vehicles to make paints. You will also need solvents to make paints. When using water as the solvent to make a paint, it is called a watercolor paint; when using oil, then it is called an oil paint. Paints used in gouache paintings also use water as solvent. So paints, actually, are syntheses. But you do not need any paint in making a fresco, you only need mineral pigments to carbonize your arriccio layer: before the water in the plaster dries out, you mix water and pigments to a consistency you like and you are ready to apply it. After the plaster layer is carbonized to become mainly calcium carbonate, it will be like marble and the colors applied will be wrapped in it.
When making a fresco, it is impossible to finish in within a day, for it usually has many delicate details to be taken carefully. In Italian, the amount of works that can be made in a day is called “giornata.” We often divide areas according to our schedule, and finish an area in a day. The most noticeable difference between frescoes and other paintings is that one cannot add new colors in a fresco after it dries, because newly added colors cannot be involved into the structure of the painted wall. In Europe, frescoes are quite common in every place: art museums, churches, museums and hotels. It sounds like an ancient way to make paintings, but in fact, many painters still make frescoes today for their unique textures that differ from oil paintings or other materials. It is also convenient to be used on various architectures.
Surprisingly enough, we also have frescoes made
by famous artists in Taiwan.
In 2012, we received a request to restore a mural at the Huang Family Ancestral Shrine in Jiali, Tainan. At first, we did not expect to see such a material, or I should say a material that is really similar to that used in Western frescoes, in Taiwan. We did many examinations after receiving the case, including sending samples abroad twice. I have a friend, Dr. Rossi, who researches on pieces from the ancient city of Pompeii and those created in the Renaissance period, and has been analyzing samples of various materials in the Uffizi Gallery in recent years. He was in Taiwan when we were working on the case, and we met each other via a friend. Later, we worked together on the case of the Huang Family Ancestral Shrine, and he found it was interesting that materials used in the mural by Yu-feng Chen were similar to those used in Western frescoes. We plan to disclose the materials on the internet in the end of this year. When we were restoring this mural in the Glory Ancestral Hall, we could see many cracks on it, and many parts had already fallen off. The left part was pasted with absorbent papers as an emergency treatment. This mural was actually stunning when it was made, so many cultural workers had been taking photographs of it or recording it. The photograph taken seven years ago showed us that it was good at that time, but it was seriously damaged when we saw it two years ago. This fresco actually had two pieces, which was painted respectively on both sides (the Dragon side and the Tiger side) of the main hall. We took photographs of both sides, and found that the condition on the Tiger side was really bad: more than 60% of it had been damaged. It was caused by local changes in climate and environment in those nine years.
If you want to learn more about cultural heritage, every October in Taiwan is the month of cultural property, and many symposiums will be held for you to participate in. Every year, Taiwan has many international conferences on issues of environmental changes and conservation of cultural heritage.
Anyway, the mural in Huang Family Ancestral Shrine was serious damaged during those nine years, and we figured that the reason of such deterioration was “efflorescence” in a professional term. The main reason of efflorescence is salt produced with chemical reactions of water between layers of arriccio and intonaco on a wall. The salt here is not edible salt but a chemical substance like sodium sulfate or ammonium sulfate. The main factor behind efflorescence is “sodium chloride.” When sodium chloride is accumulated too much between a wall and a mural, and when the relative humidity reaches 76%, deliquescence of the salt crystal occurs and forms liquids. When the air is drier and the relative humidity is lower than 76%, the liquids are crystallized again. This circle of deliquescence, crystallization, deliquescence, crystallization, deliquescence and crystallization produces cracks on a wall, because when crystals are formed from liquids, their volume can grow to fifty or even one hundred, two hundred times larger allowing fissures in a mural to pop. With such a circle, salt has been released and absorbed repeatedly, and it can cause huge damages to a mural. As you can see, when we were trying to restore this precious fresco, many parts of it were destroyed.
A problem that has long existed in Taiwan is that cooperation between craftsmen, restorers and governments is always messed up and unorganized. It is not rare to see that no one evaluates how serious a situation is, and no common ground is built between involved parties. Frequently, I have seen people aiming for innovation participate in a restoration project. The concepts of innovation and restoration are at two very opposite ends and because of this nature it is more difficult for a team to seek an agreement. We are often stuck with the dilemma of making new things while implementing restoration works when concepts are randomly mixed together without any decent principle. In Japan, when an ancient temple needs to be restored, they will replace all the parts that cannot support the structure anymore and send them to restoration centers. After receiving a comprehensive restoration, these old parts may be well preserved in local cultural centers or museums. At the same time, in Japan they have a long established method to make new parts identical to the old ones for replacement. We do not have an established system of conservation and restoration to be passed down to future generations in Taiwan. Without such system, we may not have sufficient skills to duplicate art works of great artists like Li-shui Pan or Yu-feng Chen even if we have their originals at hand. I have no problem with innovations or personal styles, but in a restoration project, the object should be restored to a certain level, then we can talk about creation. This certain level, however, is supported by the restorer’s delicacy and fundamental training. Reaching the said level in Taiwan is possible, but such basic aspects are not given with the respect they should have.
Respecting such aspects can lead to two great profits: firstly, the precious original pieces of cultural heritage can be comprehensively preserved. Secondly, a system of art restoration can be completely preserved at the same time. Consequently, restorers can focus on restoration, and craftsmen can focus on craftsmanship while the system can be passed down or developed. But when this system breaks down as it is now, we see chaos in many temples in Taiwan as new and old parts or skills are randomly mixed together making it difficult to find a balance or harmony between them. Whether we should follow the restoration system in Japan is debatable, but having the attitude to let professionals focus on their fields is extremely important to me. In addition, we need to figure out a radical way to bring in various professionals to support restoration works in Taiwan, and that is the point I want to express and share with every one of you.