1. Stoa church fresco April 2007

2. Fresco condition (detail) April 2007

3. Stoa church fresco post plaster conservation (July 2007)

1. Introduction

The fresco, situated on a ledge above the Stoa (the pre-excavation ground level of this area of Butrint), consists of fragments of a large painting of five or six life size saints. See here for a fuller description. Much plaster is lost and much of the remaining was, when inspected in April 2007, partially detached and in danger. The whole was identified as being at risk. The fine detail remaining on some of the fragments more than justifies all efforts at conservation.

4. Fine detail on fragment of Stoa church fresco

The proposal for the summer of 2007 was limited to conservation of the plaster substrate of the fresco only. No attempt was to be made to affect the paint surface of the fresco which, it was planned would be left to the ministrations of an experienced and skilled fresco surface conservator. Our aim was to preserve sufficient to be cleaned at a later date and avoid further loss of fabric.

2. Conservation.

The conservation approach was two-pronged. Firstly identifiable and accesible voids were to be filled and secondly edges of loose plaster were to be filletted and strengthened to prevent further detioration. It was not our intention to fill all lacunae, replace all missing plaster. Small areas of missing plaster in larger areas of extant work were filled. Great care was taken to prevent lime and repair plaster staining the surface of the fresco.

5. Stoa church fresco: scaffold erected for access (July 2007)

5. Albana Hakani Butrint National Park Conservation Specialist working on the fresco (July 2007)

6. Work in progress (July 2007)

The intention was to infill and butress with a neutral mortar that would not overwhelm the painted surface and spring to the forefront.

7. Saint's head pre-consolidation (June 2007)

8. Saints head post-consolidation (July 2007)

3. Conclusion.

In the light of intention, the conservation of the fresco was succesful .

Subsequently, However, the Institute of Monuments deceided to perform their own intervention for reasons never made obvious. The result was an unsightly mess executed clumsily in a bright, possibly cementitious, mortar smeared onto the surface of the fresco and invariably crazed and cracked from swift drying.

9. Detail of IOM work 2009

10. IOM intervention 2009