RICHARD PANKHURST is the son of the Suffragette leader Sylvia Pankhurst (1882-1960). He is a world-famous scholar of history and a central figure within the Ethiopian academic and cultural life, as well as a highly esteemed person amongst ordinary citizens of Ethiopia. He has published more than 20 books, mainly concerning Ethiopian history, and innumerable essays, not least published in The Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. As founder of The Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES), Addis Ababa University, centre for the international studies of humanities of Ethiopia, since 1963 housed in the former villa of Emperor Haille Sellasie, Pankhurst has made and still make a great scholarly and pragmatic contribution to the history and culture of Ethiopia. His most renowned achievement to the Ethiopian people was when he directed the campain for to repatriate the great stelae of Aksum, a more than 30 metre high monolith from the 4th century considered as the most precious cultural heritage of the country. In 1937, it was looted by the Italian Fascist regime and moved to Rome. After many years of efforts and negoziations with the Italian government, in 2005 it was returned to Aksum, an event celebrated by the whole nation. A sign of his position as the grand old man of Ethiopian studies is that the new university library at Addis Ababa University will be named The Richard Pankhurst University Library.
Professor Pankurst has ever since the first preparations of this project given his full support and is a great spokesman for our society and its objectives, formulated in our charter. Please, find below his Letter of Recommendation.
To whom it may concern
I hereby have the pleasure to recommend “Conservation in Ethiopia – a Pilot project”, i.e. a model of how conservation of ancient Ethiopian art on a larger scale can be accomplished in Ethiopia. The project will also include a didactic part with the aim of educating Ethiopians in painting conservation, and will be done in co-operation with Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Conservation and domestic cultural and ecclesi-astical institutions in Ethiopia. It is governed by The Society for the Conservation of the Ethiopian Cultural Heritage (SCECH), a non-profit organization, and will be carried through by a Swedish team consisting of Lars Gerdmar, Icon Painter, Restorer, Independent scholar of Byzantine art, Carmen Deas, Painting Restorer, specialized in medieval Latin and Byzantine wall painting, and Karl-Gunnar Olsson, PhD, Civil Engineer, Building Expert.
The medieval sacred art of Ethiopia constitutes an important part of African art and of World Heritage. Unfortunately, today we see these treasures falling into decay. As Founder and First Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, dedicated to international research in the arts of Ethiopia, for more than 40 years I have been able to follow this sad development. The situation is alarming and measures have to be taken.
Therefore it is with pleasure that I have seen Lars Gerdmar’s efforts to pave the way for this project here in Ethiopia. On several occasions in Addis Ababa I have discussed with him questions connected with this project. SCECH and its collaborators has a long-term plan starting with the pilot project and leading up to a major program of conservation and education. The project is well-established on a national as well as regional and local level, and the selection of Yimrihane Kristos, Amhara, the church to be conserved, is well conceived. The newly completed examination and subsequent report, shows in a convincing manner the significance of this church and the urgency of the need to conserve its murals.
What also speaks in favour of Gerdmar and this pilot project is his familiarity with Ethiopia. Being both icon painter and restorer, and after long periods of travel in the Ethiopian highlands, he is well acquainted with priests and monks and knows how best to co-operate with them. A good dialogue on location is a recipe for success with such projects, and Gerdmar’s knowledge of local conditions ensure that these projects will run smoothly.
I warmly recommend SCECH’s Pilot project managed by Mr. Lars Gerdmar and the subsequ-ent conservation work in Ethiopia by his team and hope the needed funds will be forthcoming.
Addis Ababa, December 24, 2012
Signed on behalf of Richard Pankhurst
Professor, Founder and First Director of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies
Addis Ababa University
Phone and mobile in Ethiopia:
113712901, 0911 208580
+251 113712901, +251 911 208580
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