M A I N   N E W S

Experts restore damaged tapestries
National Museum to conserve remaining 9 tapestries
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

About the tapestries

Completed in 1954, the cotton and wool tapestries were woven by the East India Carpet Company based in Amritsar. It was designed by Corbusier for the buildings of Chandigarh. Interestingly, of the 30 tapestries that he designed, 12 were meant for Chandigarh. While 11 remain, the fate of one is not known.

Chandigarh, December 7
Conservation work on two of the 11 tapestries which Le Corbusier created for Chandigarh is over. Five months after they were removed from the courtroom of Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice, the two richly-woven tapestries will be heading back to courtroom number 1.

The abrupt removal of heritage works from the High Court in July this year had caused great resentment among concerned citizens of the city. The issue even attracted the attention of President APJ Abdul Kalam, courtesy a sustained campaign by The Tribune and citizens including Chandigarh’s first Chief Architect, Mr M.N, Sharma, former Haryana Chief Secretary Mr Saroop Krishen, former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, Mr Justice S.S. Sodhi senior advocate, Mr Manmohan Lal Sarin and others.

After restoring the tapestries, the team headed by Dr S.P. Singh, Director, Conservation, National Museum, today handed them over to the UT Administration. He also apprised UT officials about the future prevention and care strategy for the artworks. The preservation work of the two tapestries in question took two months after the Administration handed over the responsibility to the National Museum famous for its expertise in art conservation.

The tapestries will be installed in the CJ’s courtroom when the High Court closes for winter this year. The Administration has further requested the National Museum to restore the remaining 11 Le Corbusier tapestries originally designed for eight courtrooms of the High Court, and Punjab and Haryana Vidhan Sabhas.

The largest ever tapestries to be restored by the National Museum so far, their dimensions are 40 feet by 25 feet and 40 feet by 15 feet, respectively. Although created in two pieces, the tapestries are mounted jointly. Each colour and motif employed holds special relevance to courtroom scenario. Dr S.P. Singh said the tapestry had been hugely damaged due to accumulation of dirt, dust and soot. “There were stains at many places, one edge of the tapestry was completely weak, there were black fungus stains on the reverse side.”

Conservation experts Mr R. Veerraghavan and Mr C.B. Gupta informed The Tribune that they went in for anti-fungal treatment, de-acidification and strengthening of all edges. “The works should be vacuum cleaned at least once a year,” they added. The experts have also provided a synthetic covering at the backside of the work to prevent damage from moisture. Cotton strips have been added on both the longitudinal sides to strike a balance. Experts including conservators Vivek Tyagi, Sumit Kumar, Parveen Agarwal and Zavvar Gulaar Ahmad have also placed insecticides inside the work to prevent damages.

The team also followed ethics of conservation. As Dr Singh explained, “The material used is not harmful, it will enhance the life of the work. It is reversible.” In the next phase, the team will handle bigger tapestries measuring 75 by 24 feet and 64 by 26 feet.

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