24 March, 2023

Training course in conservation of wall paintings (module 1)

The three-month training course in the conservation of wall paintings (module 1), supported by Tata Trusts under its Art Conservation Initiative, came to an end in the month of March 2023 at the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur.

During the course, four participants were trained in the best practices of wall paintings conservation. This module focussed on understanding the material technology of different kinds of wall paintings from across Indian regions, the pigments and support-composition used in the creation of murals, digital documentation of wall paintings and condition mapping, making and application of different kinds of plasters, the cleaning, consolidation and repair of wall paintings, including emergency transfers of wall paintings and retouching. Being housed inside the Mehrangarh Fort, replete with wall paintings, the participants were able to observe several sites within the Fort for study and documentation, as well for undertaking practical work. The course was helmed by Anupam Sah, senior art conservator-restorer. Specific sessions were also undertaken by visiting faculty experts. A full time course anchor was present on site at the lab to supervise the participants during their practical work, as well as coordinate the implementation of the course.

The participants were taught how to make different plasters using a combination of ingredients that vary across different regions of India, using appropriate solvents to clean wall paintings, amongst other topics. Site visits were conducted at wall painting sites within Mehrangarh Fort, the Umaid Bhawan Palace, as well as the Nagaur Fort where the Mehrangarh Museum’s conservation team has carried out conservation work. The visits helped the participants understand the complexity of conservation projects, the collaboration efforts of local artisans and conservators in restoring these sites, as well as the techniques employed by the teams in their repair work.

Upon the completion of the course, the four participants will embark on one-month long internships to hone and apply the skills learnt in the past three months.

Here are some glimpses of the training course in action.