“Contemporary Experiences in Conservation of Wall Paintings” is the title of scientific and professional conference in the field of conservation of wall paintings, which was organized by the Croatian Conservation Institute and held from 8th–10th July 2015 at the House of Frescoes in the Istrian town of Draguć.
On the first two days there were lectures, while on the third day, a study visit was organized to churches where conservation efforts on the wall paintings are under way.
The field of wall paintings conservation has in the last decades seen major advancements, with the development of new methods, techniques and materials that emerged primarily out of interdisciplinary work of experts from many fields, namely technical and natural sciences, and humanities. Croatia, and in the first place the Croatian Conservation Institute as the leading institution in the field of art conservation, is more or less current with the application of innovations, owing to its active cooperation with experts from home and abroad, as well as the continuous training of its professionals. This is why, for the first time in Croatia, a theme-specific scientific and professional conference was organized, aimed at exchanging new knowledge and experiences in the conservation of wall paintings.
It brought together in one place experts and scientists in the fields of wall painting conservation, art history, chemistry, engineering and biotechnology; from Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia. Lectures combined areas of research such as the analyses of original techniques and the identification of authorships of individual wall paintings, as well as the diagnostics of existing conditions of wall paintings by using analytical methods. There were also presentations on how to apply new materials, such as consolidants that were tested in Slovenia and Croatia, to positive results; also the use of biotechnology, namely bacteria, in the cleaning of wall paintings; or the use of new techniques of recording and 3D scanning for the purpose of documentation. Istrian frescoes together with examples from the European continent were presented among those to be highlighted are Pompeii and Herculaneum, and also some Asian examples.
The two-day conference at the House of Frescoes was concluded with a field trip to three very important sites with comprehensive cycles of medieval frescoes, the parish church of St. Nicholas in Pazin, the church of St. Mary on Škrilinah in Beram, and the church of St. Vincent in Svetvinčenat. Apart from these sites, on the first day, a visit was organized to churches of St. Eliseus and St. Rocco in Draguć.
Contributions to the conference came from internationally renowned experts: from Slovenia Anita Kavčič Klančar, Ajda Mladenovič, Andreja Pondelak, Blaž Šeme, and Luka Škrlep; from Italy Monica Martelli Castaldi; from Portugal José Artur dos Santos Pestana; from Spain Pilar Bosch Roig and Anabelle Križnar; from France Jean-Marc Vallet; from Germany Werner Koch and Steffen Laue; and from Croatia Željko Bistrović, Tonči Borovac, Antonija Gluhan, Miroslav Jelenčić, Kristina Krulić, Zlatan Novak, Ivan Srša, Toni Šaina, and Tea Zubin Ferri.
The conference venue at the House of Frescoes holds great importance for the further development of conservation and restoration in Croatia. By bringing together professionals and scientists from different disciplines, new collaborations were established; and by presenting Istrian frescoes, their state of preservation, and ongoing conservation efforts, the wider public and the local community were introduced to the importance of continuing training of experts for the purpose of preserving cultural heritage.
The conference was financially supported by the REVITAS II project (Upgrading of Revitalisation of the Istrian Hinterland and Tourism in the Istrian Hinterland) – a cross-border project co-financed by the Operational Program Slovenia–Croatia 2007–2013.
Other sponsors also backed the conference: Town of Buzet, Town of Pazin, Municipality of Cerovlje, Municipality of Svetvinčenat, as well as companies Vektra Ltd., Kapitel Ltd., Geoexpert Projekt Ltd., and Istrian brewery Ltd.