Conservation

 

9. YK foto

The church of Yimrihanne Kristos facing south. Constructed and designed in a way which correspond with the ancient Aksumite architecture. Presumable 12th century. Building workshop unknown.   © SCECH

 

CONSERVATION, including apprenticeship training, is the main objective of the activities supported by SCECH. By the potential know-how in our society and persons associated to this one it is our hope, in close collaboration with the Ethiopian Tewahedo Ortodox Church, institutions and colleagues in the country and internationally to be able to contribute to the necessary measures that needs to be taken in order to stop the accelerating decay of that part of the Cultural Legacy of Ethiopia which concerns the ancient Christian art and architecture. 

Our first conservation will be a Pilot project and dedicated to the church of Yimrihanne Kristos, situated in the region of Amhara, some 40 kms north of the renowned town Lalibela. This is one of the most precious medieval churches in Ethiopia, placed in a huge cave and is said to have been built by king Yimrihanne Kristos. It is preliminary dated to the first half of the 12th century and reminds in its attractive architecture, also as regards its technical details, about buildings in the old Aksumite Kingdom (ca 150 B.C. – ca 700 A.D). With its three naves and the apse and abundantly adorned with colourful ornamental painting covering ceilings and arches and with its unique murals in the northern aisle, this church as well as the adjacent palace, where the king is suppose to has resided, constitute a price-less cultural heritage, however in increasing decay and great need of repairs and conservation as well as a careful cleaning of all its parts. Read more: Letter of Recommendation by Professor Richard Pankhurst

1.Yimrehane kiristos church 1 kopia

Axonometric drawing of the church and the royal palace by Tadesse Girmay.  © SCECH

 

On request from the clergy and the locals of the village and by due permissions from Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) as well as from the civil and ecclesiastical councils at location, the SCECH’s conservation team has been invited to accomplish this conservation. Between October 13-17 2012, we started this project by a close ocular and technical examination of the church and its paintings as well as of the palace. Besides our team of three restorers, engineer, architect and photographer also locals and priests connected to the site participated and among them the Head of the clergy, Abba Welde Qirqos, in one’s own person. By the following link you may take part of the contents of the examination moment by moment in a richly illustrated presentation: The preliminary examination October 13-17 2012 

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Detail of the colorful ornamental and figurative painting on the western ceiling of the nave.  © SCECH

 

MA Tadesse Girmay would like to be one of our trainees and could by the knowledge he already have also be an assistant in architectural conservation. He is a young and talented architect with his activities based in Addis Ababa and participated as one of the team members during the examination of YK 2012 (see his axonometric drawing above). He derives from Tigrai and has a burning interest for the issue of cultural heritage and conservation in his country. As a sign of this dedication is the MA thesis he presented at Addis Ababa University in 2009 on one of the most renowned medieval monasteries in Ethiopia: A study on the Conservation of the Monastery of Gunda Gundo (Eastern Tigrai). Link to professional profile: MA Tadesse Girmay

The Pilot project will be divided into several phases. The painting restorers Ms. Carmen Deas and Mr. Lars Gerdmar will share the responsibility for the painting conservation and parts of the architectural conservation as well as for the practical education in situ, headed by the painting restorer Helena Nikkanen, assisted by other experts belonging to SCECH, as well as from Ethiopian institutions and craftsmen, backed up by The Department of Conservation at Gothenburg University, Sweden.


Links:

SCECH’s conservations team and a brief project draft

Professional profiles of the team members and consultatives: Ms. Helena Nikkanen Ms. Carmen DeasMr. Lars Gerdmar, Mr. Karl-Gunnar Olsson and Mr. Tadesse Girmay, consultatives: Mr. Peder Boellingtoft, Mr. Bo Ossian Lindberg and Mr. Kenneth Sandin

The Department of Conservation at Gothenburg University, Sweden