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Marking World Heritage Day today we are focusing on the ancient Japanese art of picture conservation and mounting known as Hyōgu.

1923 woodblock print after the earliest known image of a hyōgushi priest and his assistant Original by the 14th century Japanese painter Fujiwara Takakane
Private collection Great Britain

Hyōgu and the hyōgushi

The art of restoring and mounting works of art on paper and silk has been practiced in the Far East for nearly two millennia. Originating first in China at the beginning of the Christian era, conservation techniques and materials then spread to Japan where they developed into the refined art that we now know as Hyōgu.

The word Hyōgu means a picture or piece of calligraphy lined with paper and mounted as a hanging scroll. The words hyōgushi, hyōguya and kyōji refer to the mounter/conservators of Japan who not only repair and mount hanging scrolls but also conserve other forms of pictorial art such as the handscroll, screens, sliding doors, murals etc.

The hyōgushi of today is required to undergo a long and strict period of training. During this time he or she learns not only the skills which will enable him to conserve scrolls, screens etc, but also the knowledge and sensitivity required to present them in their correct context. He must know the appropriate style of mount used for any subject and be aware, for example, of the meanings associated with the patterned silks used with such mounts. He or she must also know how and where an object will be used as this will often dictate the materials and techniques employed in its conservation.

Like the Western bookbinder, the hyōgushi is responsible for objects which must be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The objects he is conserving are made to be opened and closed, rolled and unrolled and, apart from the demands of conservation and aesthetics, the hyōgushi must always bear in mind that they are to be constantly handled and not merely viewed.

 
St Andrew’s Church, Normanby, North Yorkshire, England
 
The Heritage Trust is fortunate to have our HQ in a little village in North Yorkshire, England that boasts a thriving pub and a pretty little Norman church. This morning we saw an elderly gentleman take some faltering steps towards the church. He’s a frequent visitor to the village and makes a daily pilgrimage to the church when no-one else is there. He went there this morning before the Easter Service. Why does he go alone you may ask. It’s because the church here is Church of England and he is a Roman Catholic. But he does go, daily when visiting, unlike the majority of those in the village and surrounding area. As the church bells rang out this morning, calling its ever dwindling congregation to attend, the words of Simon Jenkins came to mind; “ I don’t go to church, but I do go to churches.”
 
There are some 16,000 churches in England, many of them architectural gems and places of sanctity and peace. The majority however are poorly attended. The church here has two services a month, with a regular congregation of a dozen or so (most in their seventies and eighties). The rest of the time, other than the occasional wedding, funereal or coffee morning) the church stands open but unused. So what is to be done? Simon Jenkins, in his Guardian article here writes –
 
England’s biggest, most plentiful, most beautiful buildings are its churches. They are also its emptiest. There are some 16,000 churches in total, and every now and then their owner and janitor, the Church of England, utters a howl of pain. This month a church report points out that more than a quarter of churches have fewer than 20 worshippers on a Sunday – fewer than 10 in rural areas. Help, it cries, opening its mind (at last) to a future for local churches as everything from farmers’ markets to digital hubs, and even to naves as “champing” sites.
 
Every few years the church gets itself into a mess over how to use its churches. Like millions of people, I don’t go to church, but I do go to churches – 85% of the public visits a church every year. We regard them as the community’s ritual forum, its museum, its art gallery, its concert hall, its occasional retreat for peace, consolation and meditation. Many in the church view us as freeloaders (though I always leave money) and cannot see why they should give us such delight when their proper business is prayer, not heritage custody.
 
As long as parish churches are seen as shrines belonging to a tiny minority of the community, any hope of wider commitment is pie in the sky. Struggling local churches must be secularised, desanctified. They must be vested in an endowed local trust or parish council that literally owns them, so they become community assets, for whose upkeep local rates can be levied, as with public parks and gardens. There will be many spills along the way. But these buildings cannot be demolished or nationalised. There is simply no alternative.
 
In a nutshell then, our lovely little parish churches must embrace the wider community. They should become places of worship or meditation for people of all faiths as well as for those of none. Places where concerts are performed, exhibitions held, talks on all matters delivered. Most of all they should be places where all are made welcome and do not feel it necessary, like our elderly gentleman above, to feel excluded.
 
Happy Easter to all our readers.
 
 
Detail of the 450 year-old Thomas Tallis’s motet Gaude gloriosa manuscript
Oxford Corpus Christi College MS 566. Image credit DIAMM.ac.uk
 
Writing for the Rhinegold Group, News Editor Katy Wright, reports on this evening’s performance of Thomas Tallis’s motet Gaude gloriosa. The manuscript on which the motet is written was found behind plasterwork in the walls of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, England in 1978. This evening’s performance will be the first time it has been heard for 450 years. What makes it even more interesting is that although the music is by Thomas Tallis the text is thought to be by Henry VIII’s sixth and last queen, Katherine Parr.
 
Alamire is to perform a work by Thomas Tallis which has not been heard for over 450 years as part of its concert at St John’s Smith Square on 14 April. The words are from Parr’s psalm paraphrase ‘Against Enemies’ in her first publication Psalms or Prayers, published in London in 1544, and were set as a contrafact of Tallis’s Gaude gloriosa Dei mater.
 
[Conductor David Skinner…] discovered that See, Lord, and behold (Parr’s text, set to music by Tallis) and the composer’s five-part Litany (using text by Thomas Cranmer, which was the first departure from the Roman rite in Henry’s reign) were first performed following an elaborately orchestrated series of events at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, which culminated on 23 May 1544 with a procession and sermon.
 
More here.

University of Birmingham
Entrepreneurship in Cultural Heritage Workshop

Organised by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham. In association with the West Midlands Museum Development.

Location: The Old Ikon Gallery, Fazeley Studios, Birmingham, B5 5SE England.
2 February 2017.

Over recent years the heritage sector has been hit by cumulative cut-backs in public sector funding, reductions in visitor spend and increasing competition for visitors. At the same time, a multitude of new opportunities continue to emerge relating to technological innovation, new audiences and communication networks and new management approaches. In the context of this developing landscape for the heritage sector, this workshop explores the increasing need for museums and heritage organisations to become ever more entrepreneurial in their approach in order to increase their resilience to the changing environment and also to identify ways and means to build profile, audiences, income and opportunities to communicate the heritage at their heart.

Through presentations by speakers who, in different ways, are involved with innovative approaches to the heritage and museums sector and through discussion, this workshop aims to identify some of the more entrepreneurial management practices of the heritage sector and to explore challenges and opportunities for future entrepreneurial actions.

Key Themes:

· Working towards resilience

· Partner working outside of the heritage sector

· The role of the creative industries

· Going global

· Building audiences and income

Confirmed speakers include:

* Dr Chris Ferguson (Auckland Castle)
* Traci Dix-Williams (Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust)
* Colin Chester-Head of Buying, The National Gallery
* Tony Trehy (Director, Bury Art Museum)
* Harvey Edgington (National Trust)
* Elliot Goodger- Birmingham Museums Trust Enterprise Committee

Pre-booking is essential.

To book your place go here.

Early-bird rate of £45 ( by 13 Jan 2017).
Full delegate rate of £55 (by 27 January 2017).

Contact: Jamie Davies, Teaching Fellow in Cultural Heritage
j.g.davies@bham.ac.uk mailto:j.g.davies@bham.ac.uk
0121 414 5616

Staff and volunteers from Accredited Museums or those officially Working towards Accreditation should reserve their place via the events page of the West Midlands Museum Development website: mdwm.org.uk or contact wmmd@ironbridge.org.uk mailto:wmmd@ironbridge.org.uk

 

We received the following (edited for clarity) last week from Dr. Mustafa Elhawat, Head of the Department of Classical Archaeology, University of Elmergheb, Al-khums in Libya. If any of our readers can assist Dr. Mustafa Elhawat please contact him at the email address below.

Dear The Heritage Trust

The political situation and the war in Libya has several complications. The problem lies in the risk to archaeological sites and buildings by militant Islamists, and exploration of these sites by thieves and vandals. There is also the illegal trade in stolen artefacts from some sites and cemeteries which are then sold on the internet and smuggled out of the country. Also, there are numerous monuments in Libya that need to be archived as they are not registered at present. There are two sections in Libya – East and West – but staff there are inexperienced and are in need of training.

We are doing as much as possible and are campaigning to raise awareness among the Libyan population. We are also setting up workshops and seminars but we need to acquire more skills, set up courses etc because archaeological sites in Libya are currently in crisis and at severe risk.

Cultural heritage in Libya belongs to all of humanity and the duty of everyone is to protect and preserve it. So we extend our hands to you, in the international community, to work with us together in order to preserve these treasures and this heritage. I hope there will be close cooperation between us all which will provide an appropriate solution to this crisis.

Cordial greetings

Dr. Mustafa Elhawat

Head of the Department of Classical Archaeology. Faculty of Archaeology and Tourism. (Near Leptis Magna). University of Elmergheb, Al-khums. Libya. Member of the Commission for the Conservation of Libyan Cultural Heritage. email archeologo@live.com

 
 
The Egyptian Sekhemka statue (2400 – 2300bce)
Image credit Mike Pitts
 
BBC News reports 15 October that –
 
A statue at the centre of an international heritage row is thought to have been exported to the USA. The Sekhemka figurine was sold by Northampton Borough Council for nearly £16m in 2014.
 
Auctioneers Christies had refused to state where it was going and there were rumours it may have ended up in a private collection in Qatar. However, it has emerged the Department for Culture, Media and Sport granted an export licence to the US in April. It had initially imposed an export ban – due to the statue’s cultural significance and “outstanding aesthetic importance” – but this was lifted after no UK buyer came forward.
 
The sale of the 4,000-year-old statue, believed to be of a high court official, had been opposed by Egypt’s antiquities ministry. Last week BBC News revealed how the council, which made £8m from the sale, had been warned by lawyers not to sell it for “financial motives”. The council said it sold the figurine to help fund a £14m extension to its museum and art gallery.
 
The Heritage Trust strongly opposed the sale and export of the Sekhemka statue (see our various features by typing Sekhemka in the search box above) and is dismayed by the news that it will leave Britain. There is no information yet on whether the statue will fall into private hands or go into a museum. What is certain is that the people of Northampton, and further afield, will no longer be able to see this stunning statue from ancient Egypt in their Museum.
 
BBC News article here.
 

The Taisho Photographer’s House by Hamish Campbell

Hidden in an old and collapsing home, an incredible discovery sheds light on the lives of a Japanese family during Japan’s Taishō Period (1912–1926). As this remarkable family home, and its contents, slowly disintegrates and disappears Australian photographer Hamish Campbell captures what still remains.

The Heritage Trust strongly urges the appropriate Japanese authorities to take steps to protect and preserve this unique and invaluable house and its contents for future generations.

Nexus – Genkan I
A superimposed image showing the condition of the Taisho Photographer’s House today, with a Taisho family bride entering the house’s genkan (hallway)
Image credit Hamish Campbell

See also Hamish Campbell’s I Found 100-Year-Old Glass Plates in an Abandoned Japanese Home here.

 

 
 
The new museum at Rievaulx Abbey. Image credit English Heritage/PA
 
Maev Kennedy, writing in The Guardian, reports on the opening of the new Rievaulx Abbey Museum in north Yorkshire –
 
Some of the loot missed by the salvage men who stripped one of the most important and beautiful abbeys in Britain, when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries, is going on display for the first time in a new museum at Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire.
 
The artefacts include a beautiful carved stone doorway, reconstructed for the first time since it was buried in a heap of rubble almost 500 years ago, along with a massive ingot stamped with the king’s emblem, weighing half a tonne, made out of the lead from the abbey roof that was melted down in a fire made from the timbers.
 
More here.
 
 
The central alter stone at Rievaulx Abbey. Originally a pre-Christian standing stone?
©
The Heritage Trust

The Egyptian Sekhemka statue (2400 – 2300bce)
Image credit Mike Pitts

Mike Pitts, writing on his blog Digging Deeper, reports on Northampton’s Egyptian statue of Sekhemka which will probably leave the UK now that the Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s export licence deferral has finally expired –

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey placed a temporary export bar on the beautiful statue a year ago, after Christie’s sold it on behalf of Northampton Borough Council for a staggering £14m (though the council’s right to sell was far from clear). That bar was extended last October until March 29, “following notification of a serious intention to raise funds to save the Sekhemka statue for the UK”. Martin Bailey reports in the Art Newspaper that such funds never materialised. We don’t yet know where the statue is going, so we can still hope, perhaps, that it might emerge in a publicly accessible gallery or museum. This is a sad and shameful turn of events, but it’s unsurprising no one in the UK bought the statue. Thanks to Northampton Council’s actions, which included a murky deal with Lord Northampton, Sekhemka is tainted.

So here, as he embarks on another journey in his long history, is what he looked like when last seen in public. I’m pleased if anyone uses these photos (and I can supply higher resolution files on request, and have others). All I ask please (Art Newspaper) is a credit to Mike Pitts.

See our earlier articles on the Sekhemka statue by typing Sekhemka in the search box above.

 

Is this heritage?

Kate Chapman, writing for the Spalding Guardian, reports on a new project called Our Lincolnshire. What does heritage mean to you? It’s a question historians and archaeologists from the University of Lincoln, England, are asking through a new online questionnaire designed to examine public attitudes towards heritage across the county and to find out what is seen as important when preserving and enhancing heritage sites and traditions.

More here.

 

 
A little-known rock covered in Buddhist carvings in Sichuan Province, south-west China, is said to be all that remains of a temple complex
Image credit Newssc.org.
 
Chen Binglin, writing in the South China Morning Post, reports on the damage being done to the 1,000 year-old carvings of Buddhas in south-west China –
 
A 1,000-year-old giant boulder covered with carved images of the Buddha statues has been severely damaged due to government neglect in southwest China, according to the official news website of Sichuan province. Local officials say they did not protect the site because they could not find any writings on the rock to tell them when it was created, Newsssc.org reported.
 
 
Detail of the One Thousand Buddhas
Image credit Newssc.org.
 
The intricate carvings were created between the mid-Tang Dynasty, more than 1,000 years ago, to the Qing Dynasty, according to archaeologists. Some farmers took rocks with carvings from the site to build or decorate their houses, archaeologists said. The main cause of damage to the relic was vandalism, although serious weathering also played an important role due to the lack of protection.
 
More here.
 
 032
 
Detail of The Martyrdom of Edmund on the north wall of the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering, North Yorkshire, England
 
A project to highlight one of North Yorkshire’s hidden pictorial gems is being launched in Pickering this evening. The Pickering Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul is aiming to conserve its medieval wall paintings and improve visitor facilities through a Heritage Lottery Fund project entitled Let there be Light.
 
Pickering Church contains the most complete set of medieval wall paintings so far discovered in Britain (see our earlier feature here). The paintings, executed over 500 years ago, remained hidden under a thick coat of plaster until they were accidentally rediscovered in 1852. The Church is now working closely with the University of York on the best way to conserve and display these unique works of art.
 
This evening’s launch event will begin at 7:30 and will include a talk  by Dr. Kate Giles, leading expert on the paintings. There is no charge for the evening and those attending will have the opportunity to offer views and suggestions on the project.
 
 
A cognocenti contemplating ye beauties of ye antique
Caricature of Sir William Hamilton (Scottish diplomat, volcanologist and collector of antiquities) by James Gillray (1756 – 1815)
©
The Trustees of the British Museum
 
The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire, England will be hosting a lecture by James Ede, Chairman of Charles Ede Ltd, on Saturday, 5 March 2016 from 2:30pm. The talk, entitled Guardians of the Past or Looters? Connoisseurship, Collecting and the Trade in Antiquities, will fall into two parts. “The first deals with the revival of interest in the ancient world, the history of collecting (some of it scandalous) and the foundation of museums. The second part examines the importance of the trade and the challenges we face in the light of events in the Near East.”
 
Details here.
 
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Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and Italian Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, sign an agreement to pave the way for a heritage protection taskforce
Image Credit Domenico Stinellis/AP
 
The Guardian newspaper reports yesterday that –
 
Italy is to work with the UN’s cultural agency to protect ancient artefacts and archaeological sites in conflict areas from extremists. The Italian foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, and Unesco’s director general, Irina Bokova, signed an accord in Rome creating an Italian taskforce and a centre in Turin to train heritage protection experts.
 
Last year, activists reported that [Daesh] killed three captives in Palmyra, Syria, by blowing them up after tying them to ancient Roman columns. It also destroyed other monuments in Palmyra, a desert oasis standing at the crossroads of ancient civilisations, including the temple of Bel, temple of Baalshamin and the triumphal arch.
 
“We are witnessing a tragedy of destruction of heritage, systematic and deliberate attacks on culture,” Bokova said at the signing ceremony…
 
Full article here.
 

Re-creating classic paintings in 3D that may be touched, and now made freely available worldwide. The Unseen Art project – a new way to experience art with touch, for the blind and for everyone

Have you ever been touched by art? Have you had an emotional reaction while viewing a painting, have you gotten a different point of view, or learned something about the world or yourself? Have you ever touched the work of a great artist? Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal, and experience the art with your own hands?

You can experience art in a new way, and open art to others for the first time. There are many people in the world who have heard of classical artworks their whole lives but are unable to see them. The project is involving people from all over the world to recreate classical art We are creating a new opportunity for people in the world to experience art. The project is involving people from all over the world to recreate classical art paintings in 3D so that they may be touched and felt, both in exhibitions and in people’s homes. 3D models of the paintings are free and printable anywhere in the world where there’s access to a 3D printer.

More on the The Unseen Art project here.

   

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