Sunday, 25 October 2015

How Abia Is Driving Art Restoration Technique



By Tajudeen Sowole
With over 20 years studio practice as a painter and sculptor, Godwin Archie Abia, who is also the founder of Winarc Gallery is currently expanding  his interest in restoration and  preservation area of art. Abia is worried that artists and patrons of art are not giving much attention to preseration and conservation of collections.
a sculpture by Godwin Arcie-Abia

 "Every piece of creative work such as art, car, house, among other everything, even human being needs to be maintained," Abia argued during a chat inside Winarc Gallery, Ikeja, Lagos. "if not taken care of, works of creative efforts will lose its original content, aesthetics and value." Arts, he stresed "need to be preserved and properly maintained."


 The artist who is well-known for his bone collage - a medium he used for nearly two decade - traced the challenges of Nigerians in preservation to the people's lack of maintenance culture, generally. "As a people, we lack maintenance culture in this country and this has been extended to visual arts," he warned, and stressed that if the people's lack of maintenance culture extends deep into art, "the works of masters that were produced over the years would lose their value."

  
Among some of Abia's jobs in restoration is a fiberglass work at Lagos Port Complex, in 2001/2002, a job, he said was done originally by another artist. But there are quite a number of art in public space that needs restoration. "We have look around and noted some sculptural works that need to be restored as well as damaged works. I assure that if given the opportunity, we are going to restore them to the original state."

  
He shared his experience as regards the difference between indoor and outdoor maintenance of works. "Mainteining outdoor works of sculpture can be very challenging to coflectors given the usuual very large in scale and design of outdoor works.


"General maintenance starts with documentation of the works which makes for easy record keeping as a loose leaf binder entries for each sculpture's yearly maintenance.  Logs and initial examination can be kept in each section for easy reference in case of organisation and individual that has large collection of works.

  
 "For most sculptures, a yearly maintenance is regular washing with light lose pressure using a dilute solution of mild delergent, followed by warer rinse. Using rise soft nylon bristle brushes or sponges to apply the detergent proper washing and wax in maintenance will also provide the opportunity to examine the sculpture. Streaking are other evidences in corrosion, so balancing, structural problems or damage should be documented.


  "The environmental conditions surrounding outdoor sculpture can affect its condition. For example, I did a massive sculpture in Apapa area of Lagos in 1996, but due to lack of maintenance we have to do another new one in 2013. And in the recent one yet to be unvieled because of the atmospheric nature of Apapa, those works need to be coated every two years to prevent damage. 


  "Encroaching vegetation, which may encourage bird, animal, vandalisation activity, should be cleared. Holes in sculpture should always be kept clear to allow water drainage. Again my honest advice: whenever possible, discourage the public from touching or climbing on outdoor work of art because the applied surface coating are easily scratched and will be worn away by excessive handling. Natural barriers such as landscaping plant or gravel to discourage skateboarders); adequate lighting at night, security patrols can reduce the need for expensive repairs.


 "Also the protective coating for outdoor job, many sculptures especially metal ones can benefit from using 'Sacrificial' protective coatings. An inert, transparent coating is applied over the finished sculpture. which can be removed (without damaging the art work) replaced as it becomes dirty or worn.

 "Regular application and renewal of protective coating can be cost – effective means of prolonging the life of the sculpture, since they are much less intrusive and expensive to replace or adjust than are the artist"s original surfaces."
 (Published in The Guardian Nigeria, Sunday, October 25, 2015)

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