When restoring statuary, I model replacement parts in the style of the original artist. In this way, the finished statue retains its integrity and dignified appearance.
This Sacred Heart statue had a lot of damage to the hands and base, (though the hands did not need replacing, just repair).
Its restoration has been completed in time for the feast day of the Sacred Heart which this year falls on the 3rd of June.
We found two different decorative schemes when the original white paint was removed.
Once the red colours were introduced to the mantle, we adjusted the decoration to fit the new look. The gold detailing was rendered in 24k gold leaf.
For the month of May, I am posting one of my favourite restorations of Our Lady.
It was brought to me by a jolly trio; a mature man, his wife, and her sister. They were people with a sunny outlook, the type that are always a pleasure to meet and work for.
I always enjoy hearing the stories behind statues, and I was told that this one, "Belonged to Our Dad", who had painted the statue as a means of preserving it.
(Give him his due, gloss paint like this is not ideal to work with as it doesn't have ideal "flow" properties.)
Usually when statues are gloss painted, they hide a multitude of " sins" and are difficult to repair.
This one was not too bad as I recall, which was a pleasant surprise given the many horrors I have found beneath the layers of gloss painted figures!
Even I was surprised at what a lovely statue this was when I had finished restoring it, and I could then see why " Our Dad" had treasured it. You could say, there was a moment of connection with him and I , as I saw what he had seen.
Given that the lady it belonged to had a good sense of humour, I will relate that on handing over the item to me, she said with an anxious look in her eye " It will look the same when its done won't it?"
The whole body surface was covered in gouged striations caused by amateur cleaning methods. (never use metal scouring pads!)
The usual breaks could be satisfactorily repaired given that it was to be used for display only, however this corpus was intended for "Veneration of the Cross".
It would be subjected to much physical interaction; which meant that it would not be fit for this purpose, and would have to be discarded.
(As a modeller of religious subjects myself) I appreciated the skill and the hours this Victorian artist had put into in producing such a beautiful representation of Our Lord.
I also considered (As a practising Catholic myself) the familiarity of parishioners with this figure.
I could only approximate that given its age, (suggested by the patina used and the quality of modelling) that one way forward in this case, was to replicate by re-casting the corpus. Fr. P agreed and gave his permission.
This took several days to do, and would be beyond budget for this restoration. So one could say that it was done as a " Labour of love!"
(N.B. Copyright for artists can last for the life of an artist plus 50, or even seventy years; so the undertaking was not considered lightly. See DACS website. )
David Refurbished the wood of the cross by removing the broken beading (parts were missing and had been cut away to accommodate the corpus.)
He then routed the edges to add similar interest (which would not trap dust and incense as did the previous configuration.) The wood was revived and the surfaces replenished.
The newly cast corpus was treated with a "Victorian style" patina; the result being one of age, but well preserved!
Last week, Mr. Denis Madden, (a talented photographer) sent me an email with this lovely photo he had taken. It is of his 17 inch Sacred Heart of Jesus statue which I restored for him last year.
Denis told me why his statue is special to him;
"I purchased the statue 55 years ago, on my 16th birthday, at the Catholic Repository shop on Moor Lane in Bolton.
A big thank you to Denis for taking the time to send such a lovely photo of the restored statue. We love it!
Having seen the Marian shrine of my childhood church in Liverpool relegated to a meeting room, (during re-ordering in the 70's) I am grateful to Fr. S for having considered me for this work, and to have been part of re-instating devotion to her. It helped to heal that former sense of loss, to know that devotion to Mary would be shared again.
Lewis and Lewis
is a Catholic family run business: specialising in statue restoration, and church interior projects.
Jeanette is a professional sculptor/fine artist and designer; husband David is a traditional upholsterer/technician.
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