Restoration of Sao Jose Church

Special thanks to Carolina Proenca, director of the Sao Jose church renovation project, and to Susanna Melo, who wrote the blog.In all of the churches in Ouro Preto, there’s a sign saying, “No photography,” and in case you miss these signs, there are “guards” who will remind you of the rule. Of course, initially we were disappointed because we love to take pictures, and the inside of the churches are colorful, beautiful, and historical. But we got used to the idea.

After climbing a steep hill, we discovered that the Sao Jose Church was undergoing a complete renovation. Seeing Bruna carefully apply paint to damaged areas of a wall painting, we asked her if we could photograph her. She said we would need to check with her supervisor. When we found Carolina Proenca, she inquired about the purpose of our photography. We informed her of the blog and that we enjoy writing and photographing our daily activities. To our surprise and joy, Carolina not only gave us permission to photograph the restoration, but she also gave us a tour and explained the process.

Nine individuals have been restoring the church since April last year and the crew intends to finish by Sao Jose’s day in March 2012.  We saw workers replacing wide wooden plank floors that had been damaged by termites.  Others were removing layers and layers of old paint in order to discover the original designs and colors buried under them. Lucia, Flavia and Angela were repainting the woodwork of the high altarpiece crown. Denise was using gold leaf from Italy to gild the carvings. In the photo you will notice that she is cutting the gold leaf into pieces, which she will apply in small patches here and there. This method of working economizes on the gold and it intentionally shows that the church was restored rather than completely re-gilded.

Sao Jose Church; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Bruna restoring a painting; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Carolina Proenca; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Lucia adding paint; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Fixing wood sculptures; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Denise cutting gold before applying it with a brush; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

One Response to Restoration of Sao Jose Church

  1. Anonymous says:

    Obrigada Keith por documentar nosso trabalho e mostrá-lo a tantos e tão longe desse universo que é Ouro Preto. Denise Camilo (restauradora).

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