交陪_1_6

時間───2015年3月21日
演講───蔡舜任──「又見麗水」講座
地點───水交社文化園區
整理───陳莘
翻譯───黃暉峻

我所遇到的主要修護難題都是在「觀念」

其實修復是一個蠻細緻、蠻複雜的工作,不容易在短時間內解釋清楚的一門專業,它涉及的層面很廣,簡單說就是延續藝術品、文化資產或是古蹟的生命。修復不是近代才有的一種專業,廣義地說,它可能在西元前就已經開始了,最早的紀錄是希臘羅馬時代,某些「惜物」的君主在攻城掠池後,甫進入敵人城堡或皇宮時,看到很多俊美、體格壯碩的雕像,可能就聘請匠師直接把那張臉打掉,然後重新刻成他自己的模樣。這樣的開始源自一個奇特的動機,擁有者既不願意把它整個毀棄掉,但他又透過另外一個方法把它留存下來,當然這些保存動機各式各樣,對於不同物件又延伸出不同的對待方法。
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。
我離開義大利之後,也繼續到美國、荷蘭等地工作,實習與工作的時間大約有八、九年,2012年回到臺灣任教,那時剛好遇到一波都市更新的風潮,臺灣當時有很多古蹟或老屋,甚至許多日治時代的建築,不明原因地倒塌或發生火災,災難發生的時間點都很弔詭,大概都是被指定為古蹟前幾天。這些古蹟佇立在那邊二十幾年了,但就有莫名的天意讓它焚燒起來,更弔詭的是臺灣法令竟無法周全地保障這歷史建築。即便是文化資產保存法,我前幾年翻閱時的印象,最深刻的是蓄意損毀或摧毀整棟指定古蹟建物的最高罰款是一百萬元以下。從法令制訂上就可看出臺灣維護文化資產的基本精神與態度都出現大問題,所以後面的執行細則都遇到跛腳、停滯不前的現象。所以當我回到臺灣,開始參與實際的工作之後,遇到的都是修復觀念有待釐清或建構的 問題。

藝術品、文物跟人一樣會慢慢老化

其實藝術品與文物跟人一樣,它都會慢慢老化或開始劣化,在剛買來的時候它就已經開始進入它的生命週期。剛開始拿到它時不可能馬上壞掉需要修復,除非它是一件非常非常古老的東西,所以這時最好就開始關心它置放的地點,不管是住家、博物館或者一些典藏空間裡面,需要注意該空間的溫度與濕度。在臺灣應沒有辦法像在國外維持在攝氏20度或者22±2度之間,以臺灣的氣候條件約維持在25±3度,就是攝氏22到28度的範圍就好了。濕度條件更為重要,所謂濕度與含水量有關,它大概要維持在55%左右,一般在西方大部分都是維持在52%±2。臺灣因為已經習慣較高的濕度,我建議最好控制相對濕度不要超過60%,因為嘉義大學的夏滄琪教授有做過保存條件的研究,相對濕度達60%以上,文物就會浮現最常遇到的問題──黴菌,太過潮濕黴害就會快速形成威脅。即便有保存的機制存在,這些藝術品、文物還是會慢慢地衰老,直到有一天它內部結構或支撐材沒有辦法再承受地心引力或對抗種種外力時,就是需要做修復的時候。
修復絕不只是拿著工具、穿著工作服便開始執行清潔,修復的流程也不只是加固材料、填補、全色等。修復工作的第一步驟其實都是從「檢視登錄」開始。檢視登錄簡單來說就是「拍照片」三個字,當一件藝術品、一件重要文物,或一棟古宅開始出現一些問題時,評估問題的手法通常透過大量的照片拍攝。真正開始動手做修復,其實已是所有流程的第三階段,它絕對不是像十九世紀的醫學一樣,還沒檢查就直接開刀了,要用什麼方法來應對其實必須跟現代醫學一樣,要先看一下X光、照一下MRI、抽血等等,先執行多項檢測確認病情後,才會把文物或畫作拿到修復室開始進行修復的動作,所以審慎規畫前期的修復計畫很重要。臺灣目前面臨的最大問題不是檢視或修復,其實真正的考驗反而是在修復完成之後。我們常看到某間廟宇花了幾千萬、幾億、好幾年修復完成的文物,但案子一結束後就沒有人在乎後續的維護及教育,臺灣的文物保護的致命問題即在此。其實文物、藝術品、古蹟和汽車一樣,必須安排時間定期做保養,這是我比較想分享與推廣的概念。
我想到我在荷蘭工作的時候,在荷蘭林保省修復中心(SRAL)實習與工作期間,當時工作地點常在伯尼芳坦博物館(Bonnefantenmuseum),它是荷蘭南部最重要的一間美術館,每天早上大概八點半到九點之間,還沒正式開館之前,館方會先開放給學校單位進來參觀,直到十點半時才正式開放給一般民眾。第一批進來的通常都是三、四歲的幼稚園小朋友,然後隨著時間慢慢變成愈來愈高大的族群。這群幼稚園小朋友就像看動物一樣看著玻璃裡面的我們,那是一個全透明、半開放式的修復空間,每個人就像看猩猩一樣貼著玻璃,這群小朋友們很可愛,但讓我較驚訝的是帶著他們的老師要怎麼跟小朋友講解,我好奇老師怎麼跟小毛頭解說我們的工作內容。結果我就聽到幼稚園老師說:「我們現在看到的畫是幾百年前的作品,它們都會老、都會生病,而這些叔叔、伯伯、阿姨正在幫它們醫病。」所以這些三、四歲的孩童從此腦海中就已烙印「修復」這兩個字,這兩個字已在他們的世界萌生了。
總之,教育推廣非常重要,當我回到臺灣後感觸更深,例如在廟宇修復中最需要推廣的第一個對象,其實就是廟公。為什麼?因為他跟這間廟有著最緊密連結,他每天都在那裡,他比任何人都還愛這間廟,所以不告訴他要告訴誰?且當他對保存維護的觀念翻轉以後,所有事情都會跟著改變。今早我還在八吉境的關帝廳工作,今天是個很特別的日子,剛好是土地公生日,每個信徒進廟持的香都特別大把,而我們工作的地點時常是在樑柱上,一炷炷香裊裊地往上飄送,我們就是人肉活體的抽油煙機,我現在整身都是廟裡焚香薰出來的味道。剛剛我就建議廟公:「能不能請信眾以後拿一支香祭拜就好」,他馬上就說可以,那個轉變是立即的,你可以當場顯著地感受到,而修好的樑柱也能因這改變延長彩繪的色澤與品質。

這座城市才是修復教育的老師

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。
1966年大水災所帶的巨大災害,讓1966到1976整整十年間都持續在進行文物的搶救,修復時間長達數十年才知道被損毀的數量多麼壯觀。這文藝復興重鎮寶物特別多,而寶物的宿命又與阿諾河緊繫在一起,這災難竟催生出一整套的修復教育、修復機構與修復制度,在這前提下我選擇了這個城市去做學徒、當學生,一直到取得碩士學位。
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。
跳脫出來看修復這個行業其實很有趣,因為不管是藝術品、文化資產或古蹟修復都可涵蓋在此架構中,可是真正一進入這領域,我們則是以材質來做專業區分,大概可分成三、四十種不同的專業修復師。想像當你進入到一個歐洲的古堡時,所有映入眼簾的物件都可對應到其中某一類型的修復,譬如王公貴族穿的衣服、漂亮的掛毯,對應著織品修復師;戰爭用的盔甲兵器,有專門修兵器的修復師。另外修護畫作部分又可分為好幾種,有油畫類、紙質類或馬賽克;沙發有專門家具的修復師;時鐘、鐘錶,也有專門的鐘錶修復師,且經常是好幾代家族傳承下來,整個家族就是專職在這項事業。修復師很難跨越不同領域,非常非常難,因為一跨領域就需要投入非常多的時間重新學習,且你的手不一定每種材質都做得來。就像我曾經去紙質修復的工坊實習過,每次碰到那些紙材,師父最後都跟我說你不要再碰了好不好,我的手就是沒辦法去修紙質類的東西。你雖然知道那是什麼樣的工序,可是你做不來,就是做不來,每個人的個性、手藝、才能都不一樣,最後就會走到不同的路。
義大利中部的卡拉拉(Carrara),它是托斯卡納(Toscana)北邊一點的城市,米開朗基羅雕的很多著名雕像包括《大衛像》的石材都來自卡拉拉,他甚至親自去過卡拉拉挑選石頭,其實基本上他們在挑選這些大理石的直覺可能都比機器還要準確。挑選石材要留意是否有太多的裂縫或細紋,不謹慎會導致一些重大的問題發生。我不曉得大家知不知道這段歷史,《大衛像》所使用的這塊石頭,剛開始並不是米開朗基羅開鑿它的,早在他開工的四十年前這塊大石頭就已經來到翡冷翠,且已被雕鑿過,後來被棄置在一個倉庫裡許久。前一位雕刻家好不容易找到這麼大的一塊大,正高興要開始做一些表現時,他在切外模的時候發現低部埋有一道細細的裂紋,於是就將石頭棄置了。米開朗基羅大概四十年後看到這塊大石頭,就指著石頭說大衛已在裡面,要用刻刀將他釋放出來。其實那是個奇蹟,因為這塊石頭的狀態基本上沒有辦法去承受大衛身體的總重,《大衛像》加上台座總共是7.1公尺,總重超過五百公斤非常沉重,尤其腿部承重非常大,米開朗基羅的雕刻技術等同是科學與力學的展現。

濕壁畫是人類最早的繪畫手法

可是這樣的大理石為什麼可以做雕刻,也能夠拿來做所謂的濕壁畫呢?其實大理石主要的成分是碳酸鈣CaCO3,早期在做濕壁畫時最需要的材料就是氫氧化鈣,它是把碳酸鈣燒製後再長期浸置製成的物質,也是從生石灰變熟石灰Ca(OH)2的過程,最後利用熟石灰來做成濕壁畫。剛開始製作的時候熟石灰裡面富含水分,像爛泥一樣,它基本上要和上砂石之類的惰性粉末,依照比例多寡去調配層次,製造出濕壁畫的使用材料。當惰性粉末的比例較高時,我們叫做粗灰泥;當這個砂石的比例降低的時候,我們叫做細灰泥。
其實濕壁畫從西元前就開始了,它出現的時間非常早,可能還可回溯到人類剛出現的時候,因為材料垂手可得,任何找得到材料的地方就可以開始做畫,濕壁畫是最早的一種繪畫手法。作畫時不管你畫的題材是什麼都會需要用到所謂的「顏料」,而顏料到底是什麼?簡單的說它就是色粉加上展色劑。色粉有天然色粉、礦物性色粉也有人工性合成的色粉,加上展色劑混合起來就叫做顏料。這裡頭還牽涉到溶劑,水彩就是用水當溶劑,油畫就是用油當溶劑,膠彩也是用水當溶劑,就實際上它是一個合成的材料。但在製作濕壁畫時它不需要顏料,它只需要礦物性色粉來跟細灰泥層做一個碳化的結合反應,在水分乾涸前你只要用色粉沾水調勻,調成你要的濃淡度便可直接繪製使用,等到這個濕灰泥完成反應之後,它就變成類似大理石的材質,裡頭的顏色就被包覆住了。
在畫濕壁畫的時候基本上你沒辦法一天就全部完成,往往它有很複雜的細節要處理,所以我們一天能做的量在義大利文裡面叫做「giornata」,它的意思就是一天的工作量。我們通常會把整體按照規畫的進度做切割,一天天分別完成不同的區塊。濕壁畫與其他繪畫最大的不同是,當它乾掉之後顏色就沒有辦法再做添加,因為新添的顏色已無法融為整面牆結構的一部分。在歐洲不管是旅館、教堂、博物館、美術館,大大小小的地方都可看見濕壁畫,聽起來好像是個很古老的創作方式,但實際上一直以來還是很多畫家使用濕壁畫來創作,因為它畫出來的那個質感就是與油畫或其他材質不太一樣,而且也很適合運用在各種建築上。

國內居然也有名家的濕壁畫

在2012年我們接到佳里黃氏宗祠的委託案,聽到有壁畫要維修,那時候還沒有意識到國內居然也有這種材質,應該是說是工法與製作技法如此接近西方濕壁畫的案例。所以接案時做了蠻多的測試,包括把取樣送到外國二次鑑定,我有一位義大利朋友Dr. Rossi,他鑽研龐貝古城與文藝復興時期的許多案例,最近幾年在烏菲茲美術館做精密材質分析的工作。那年他剛好來到臺灣,在朋友介紹下認識,我們開始合作黃氏宗祠的案子,他發現到陳玉峰當年用了很多材料與西方的濕壁畫材料非常類似,這很有趣,材料內容我們預計於年底時會在網路上做一次公開。當時看到這面位於崇榮堂的壁畫時,它已經出現壁癌,且許多部位已大面積脫落。在它左半部的地方,已貼著吸水紙做緊急置換處理。這壁畫剛完成時其實很精彩,所以一直有文史工作者做拍攝與記錄,我們看到七年前的照片其狀態都還很完整。換句話說,在陳玉峰於1953年繪製完成到我們接觸的前兩年,整個畫面其實都算完整的,可是當我們在一、兩年前見到它的時候,它已經變的很殘破。這組濕壁畫共有兩幅,在正殿的龍虎兩邊各一面,兩邊我們都做了揭取,而虎邊的狀況非常棘手,大概60%以上在揭取前都已損毀佚失,所以一定是在這九年間,剛好遇上建物周遭環境氣候變遷所造成的影響。
若要更了解文化資產這領域的細節,每年10月是臺灣的文化資產月,會有許多研討會陸續舉辦,臺灣每年都會舉辦與環境變遷議題相關的文化資產保存國際研討會。總之這九年之間黃氏宗祠壁畫殘破的如此嚴重,我們判斷這惡化的現象,用專業的講法就是發生「酥鹼化」現象。酥鹼化其實最主要的原因就是壁體與地仗層之間,也是粗灰泥與細灰泥層之間,可能因水作用而引出一些鹽分,這類型的鹽並不是食用鹽,而是硫酸鈉、硫酸氨或氯化鈉這類物質,造成酥鹼化的最重要成因即是「氯化鈉」。當太多氯化鈉積在壁體跟壁畫之間時,相對濕度一到76%結晶鹽就會潮解,就會融化成液態。等到空氣較乾燥的時候,相對溼度低於76%,它就又固化再結晶,所以這個潮解、結晶、潮解、結晶、潮解、結晶的過程就容易產生類似壁癌的現象。因為這結晶鹽從液態變固態的過程,可能會膨脹五十倍甚至一兩百倍的體積,所以這壁畫上的很多毛孔就被它撐破,這樣的鹽分反覆被毛細孔釋出又吸回,幾年間它就能造成很大的破壞力,導致要維修這難得的濕壁畫時已損毀部分面積。
臺灣長久面臨一個重大的問題,就是你會發現工匠、修復師或政府單位,這些人的合作狀態是層級混亂、沒有組織的,既不知怎麼權量事態輕重,也沒有默契整合眾人意見,時常要做新作的人也跑來參與修復,創新與修復原本就是抵觸的概念,而要凝聚共識更加困難。又要修復、又要創新,沒有原則的全部混雜在一起。而日本在維修一間古寺時,會把某些沒有辦法支撐的舊件抽換掉,這原件被送到修復中心讓修復師去做完善的修復動作。等修復完,這些原件可能會保存在當地的文物典藏中心或是收藏在博物館裡,而因抽換空出來的地方日本則有流派傳承的傳統,它可以製造出一模一樣的新件來取代其功能。臺灣維修的運作模式,因為沒有完整的傳承體系,即便有潘麗水或陳玉峰等人的原稿留下來,可能也沒有技術再把它複製出來。我並不反對創新或創造個人風格,只是在從事維修的工作時一定要先到一個水準再來做創新,這水準就是細緻度與基本功,在臺灣不是做不到這水準,而是這種基礎工作長期以來沒有被重視。
而重視這傳承可同時獲得兩個好處,第一是原件的珍貴文物被完整保存下來了,第二是文物修復鏈也被完整保存,也就是說修復師專心做修復的事情,工匠繼續做工匠該做的事情,這修復及工法流派可以不斷傳承與創新。可是當這整套修復鏈斷掉時,就會出現臺灣許多廟宇所呈現的雜亂樣貌,新舊無序隨機的混雜在一起,無法呈現一致或協調的調性。我們是否要仿照日本的維修之路,或許還有商議空間,但我覺得各司其職的專業態度是很重要的,所以在臺灣我們能不能有一個完善的方法,我們能不能思考一下如何讓這些各司其職的專業,紛紛成為支撐修復專業的重要底材,這就是我想表達的。

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.

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