We realized our NewsFile this week had an unintended theme of destruction and redemption. Some of the works on this list braved dire odds to survive, others weren’t so lucky.
More than 60,000 Pieces of Song Porcelain Discovered in South China Sea
In 2007 a ship was discovered in the Nanhai (South China Sea). It had sunk about 800 years earlier and the entire vessel was raised and handed over the Marine Silk Road Museum in Yangjiang, Guangdong Province in South China. Now, seven years later, the job of excavating the encrusted wreck has begun. On Jan. 29, 2015 China Daily published the first images of its extraordinary cargo, approximately 60,000 Song Dynasty porcelains.
The images are a snapshot of a typical cargo of its day, possibly from a single pottery, with forms replicated by hand in the hundreds with almost machine-like accuracy. No announcement has been made about the museum’s intention to exhibit the finds.
Spain Returns Columbian Artifacts Siezed from Drug Cartels
This story has it all: international intrigue, smugglers stealing cultural heritage items and drug cartels. The BBC reported in September that the mess was all sorted and that the 691 ancient items would be on their way home soon.
Most of the ceramic items are of huge cultural and archaeological value, and date back to 1400BC.
They had been smuggled out of South America by a man linked to the drug gangs, the embassy in Madrid said.
Following a court order in Spain in June, the items have now been handed over to the Colombian authorities and taken back to Bogota…
They were taken out of the country illegally by a man who specialised in laundering money for the drug cartels, said Mr Carrillo.
Colombia won a long legal battle to avoid the items being returned to their previous owner or remaining in Spain…
The artefacts were made before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in South America in the 16th Century.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House Reopens
So why are we covering the reopening of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles? Isn’t it, you may ask, a concrete building?
No. It’s not. It only looks like one. The home is built of hollow terracotta bricks covered with a plaster which gives it the appearance of concrete. We have a sixth-sense for this stuff, dear reader.
The LA Times reported that the home underwent a three-year renovation process. It was built in 1921 for Aline Barnsdall, an oil heiress. It was recently nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell opened the home to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Politico Smashes $70,000 Vase
It is unlikely that the (ugh) New York Post will be quoted often in CFile but this report from their Page Six could not be ignored. The giff of Eddie Murphy playing with an antique blue-and-white vase (which meets a noisy end) is unrelated but sets the scene:
An event with Timothy Cardinal Dolan to preserve the art of St. Patrick’s Cathedral came to a crashing end Thursday when an important guest — Republican state chairman Ed Cox — accidentally knocked over a valuable antique vase, smashing it to pieces.
A witness reports, “the peace was shattered when Ed Cox accidentally knocked over a 4-foot-tall antique vase in the center of the room. It fell to the floor and shattered with a terrible, piercing, sound which stopped the entire room.” The source added, “Ed nervously tried to edge away from the wreckage while the event staff looked mortified. One exclaimed, ‘Oh my God, that was a $70,000 vase!’ ”
A BofA spokesman confirmed that guests had been invited to discuss the St. Pat’s art restoration, which includes a $1 million commitment by the bank to preserve the cathedral’s famed, stained-glass rose window. The rep jokingly added, “With regards to the vase, the breakfast was a smashing success.”
Eduardo Paolozzi Mosaics Demolished
Word got out recently that the iconic Eduardo Paolozzi pixilated mosaics adorning the Tottenham Court Road tube station in London were going to be destroyed. (On a personal note: this Scotsman and sculptor, Eduardo Palozzi, was one of our chief Editor Garth Clark’s favorite professors when he was a student at the Royal College of Art in London.)
Londoner Etan Smallman quickly created a petition called ‘Save Paolozzi Tottenham Court Road mosaic from “tragic” destruction’ with the goal of collecting 1,000 e-signatures to protect Paolozzi’s artwork. He soon exceeded that number as support flooded and 7,500 signed up. But he was not quick enough. CFile was just preparing a post for its readers to join the protest. But before we could publish, word reached us that the construction crews moved in and tore it down. Demolition favors the expedient.
The mosaics around the arches could not retained because the structure that they depend upon is supported by the roof and that’s being demolished. The possibility of removing the tiles and mosaic piece by piece had been considered, but less than five percent could be removed undamaged because of the super rich mortar they are set in.
It is not quite the disaster it sounds. Paolozzi’s art extends through the entire station and its platforms. In fact over 95 percent will be preserved in its current place with a mixture of new and original tiles.
Under the circumstances a 5% loss in a major reconstruction upgrade costing over half a billion dollars, while regrettable, seems to be a reasonable outcome. In addition millions have been spent on restoring the Paolozzi murals underground and one of the elements scheduled for the signature pieces at the former Oxford Street entrance will be relocated.
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One thought on "NewsFile | The Week of 02.08.15, Mayhem, Recovery and Redemption"
Nancie Mills Pipgras
My understanding is that much more of the Paolozzi murals have been lost. In fact, when I was there in 2012 several areas that had deteriorated had simply been filled in with concrete. I have also been told that some of what has been removed is being stored in “a garage” which doesn’t auger well for preservation.