Wednesday 24 June 2020

Monkey Christ and the Metal Detectorists

Sam Jones, 'Experts call for regulation after latest botched art restoration in Spain' Guardian J Mon 22 Jun 2020
Conservation experts in Spain have called for a tightening of the laws covering restoration work after a copy of a famous painting by the baroque artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo became the latest in a long line of artworks to suffer a damaging and disfiguring repair. A private art collector in Valencia was reportedly charged €1,200 by a furniture restorer to have the picture of the Immaculate Conception cleaned. However, the job did not go as planned and the face of the Virgin Mary was left unrecognisable despite two attempts to restore it to its original state. The case has inevitably resulted in comparisons with the infamous “Monkey Christ” incident eight years ago, when a devout parishioner’s attempt to restore a painting of the scourged Christ on the wall of a church on the outskirts of the north-eastern Spanish town of Borja made headlines around the world.
So, we all realise why furniture restorers cant be trusted to do conservation work on a painting, but don't see why a bus-driver cannot be relied on to record the archaeological evidence of a site where he's metal detecting. Why are archaeological experts in the UK not as bothered as Spanish experts? Why is there no call for a tightening of the laws about this? Because make no mistake, collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record and the damage done to the sites 'mined' for collectables is a conservation issue, just the same as damaged artworks and ecosystems.

So-called "citizen archaeology" leads to many more trashed sites than dodgy restorers destryoy art.


southwestpaw said...


Who you are, what you do, and you intelligence are not always linked Paul. Another irrelevant post where you deflect from the truly tragic defacing of a painting for your own self-serving ends.

Note all my finds have been donated to charity at double their face value - I challenge you to match it.


Mr Scott

Paul Barford said...

No, it is people that inexpertly trash the archaeological record for their own self-serving ends that are the problem discussed here, and it IS a conservation issue. And that's why I write about it, to raise public awareness.

David Knell said...

The fact that "Mr Scott" cannot even comprehend the obvious reasoning behind this post only reinforces the point that the average 'detectorist' is as little qualified to dabble in archaeology as a furniture restorer is to dabble in art conservation.

An unwitting own goal - compounded by his bizarre challenge that archaeology is somehow no more than a race to "donate" as many "finds" (selective bits of metal ripped from their context) as possible.

Paul Barford said...

Bizarre indeed.

I thought the logic of the point I made was pretty inescapable too.

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