News at Tipitaka Network
Saving paintings with fire
by Bamrung Amnatcharoenrit, Bangkok Post, Saturday, November 28, 2009
Reproductions of art works are now being enjoyed in new forms, on ceramic tiles.
A technology has been developed allowing ancient art works to be replicated to their original scale on to ceramic tiles.
It is a form of preservation of ancient artworks which might otherwise perish with the passing of time.
Every fine detail of original works of art are replicated on to large ceramic tiles, known as ceramic boards.
This helps preserve the integrity of the originals, including ancient wall paintings.
The technology was introduced to Thailand recently by Ceramica Image Co Ltd, and quickly took the interest of ancient wall-painting conservationists.
The technology has made it easier for restorers to examine the details of an artwork during the restoration process.
Jakawarn Bandapraneat, executive director of Ceramica Image, said the technology was proving more popular than he expected.
He imported the technology from Japan following a visit to the Otsuka Museum of Art (Otsuka Omi Ceramic Company) in Naruto City.
The company is reproducing more than 1,000 painting masterpieces to their original scale on to ceramic boards.
He discussed the idea behind ceramic boarding with experts at the Thai Office of Archaeology.
Mr Jakawarn had mulled over adopting the technique here to help extend the life of Thai ancient wall paintings.
The first project for his team involved reproducing an historic painting which depicts the marriage of Prince Siddhartha (the Lord Buddha) and Princess Yasodhara.
It is one of 32 paintings on the doors and windows at Wat Buddhaisawan in Bangkok. The paintings portray the life of Lord Buddha.
The production process takes place at a manufacturing plant in Japan. High-quality photographs of the original artwork are taken here, and the art replicated on to ceramic boards in Japan. It is then shipped back to Thailand, in a process taking at least 90 days.
The ceramic board is heated in a furnace.
More than 30,000 shades of colour go into reproducing the works.
The replicas cannot look "new", so high resolution colours are deployed to help the duplications match the shades of the original.
Experts in different fields such as photographers, art historians, archaeologists and engineers work in teams to supervise the process.
Mr Jakawarn said he likes to educate youngsters about ancient works of art. Some pieces, such as paintings on canvas, are slowly deteriorating over time. Ceramic reproductions help ensure a semblance of the original stays longer.
Khemchat Thepchai, deputy director-general of the Fine Arts Department, said ceramic boarding was a useful if expensive option for preserving paintings.
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