Strike a Pose - Restoring Russborough's Statues

We all know how difficult it is to keep our complexions looking fresh in the challenging Irish climate, cold winds and occasional blistering sunshine all take their toll. But while we can slap on some sunscreen or wrap up warm in layers, our poor statues are rather exposed. What can a Roman goddess do to maintain divine perfection? We popped out to have a chat with Restoration Artist Theresa Cullen to see what she was up to with these beauties.

The first six statues to be primped and pampered are Diana, a Dancing Faun, Flora, a Muse of Comedy, Mercury and Apollino. Theresa's techniques are fascinating, she explained the processes as we marvelled at the amazing results which emerged right before our eyes. Just like your granny might have done, she used poultices of bread soda mixed with other ingredients to draw impurites to the surface, in the case of carrara marble, iron particles cause yellow staining. Once their white lustre was restored, beautiful bolts of grey on the statues were visible again as they would have been when they were first sculpted in the 18th century by Bartolomeo Solari.

Then some more serious cosmetic surgery. Over the centuries there have been some losses, a toe, a finger, two noses and one, ahem, member. Theresa's handling of these repairs will be performed with the utmost sensitivity and delicacy. Apollino's repair will be in keeping with his neighbour Mercury's modest assests, in ancient times a sign of superior intellect.

Theresa explained how with gentle buffing, filling, carving and sealing detail will be restored and some protection will be afforded our Roman deities. Her work will be set off to perfection by the newly restored niches and colonnade. A pale terracotta colour in the niches will really make the statues pop, paint scrapes show this was the original 18th century shade. Theresa reckons in about a month the results of her marvellous Milltown make-over will be revealed. Come and see for yourself!


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