Recording at Ferapontov Monastery

Following a long journey to a landscape of pristine lakes and forests in northern Russia, the 11th of May marked the beginning of a three-month recording session at the Ferapontov Monastery, a UNESCO world heritage site. Teams from Factum and the Peri Foundation are working every evening in the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin to photograph over six-hundred square meters of frescoes painted in 1502 by the renowned icon painter Dionisy. High up on a wheeled platform, which will eventually reach more than ten meters for the recording of Christ in the cupola, Peri and Factum photographers have already captured a number of scenes from the southern wall, including the miracle of St Nicholas expelling the devil from a fantastical tree in bright ochres and reds, and light greens. After data processing, the high-resolution 'snapshot’ will aid the monastery museum in its ongoing conservation effort to maintain the delicate condition of the frescoes and will also provide an invaluable resource to historians of Russian and Byzantine art around the world. 

True Copies

Jeffrey Brown from PBS NewsHour visited Factum last March to learn more about our work both at Factum Arte and the Foundation. His piece focuses on our approach to understanding and preserving the integrity of cultural objects and heritage. Click here to watch the video.

Podcast "Traditional and Digital Artisans Meet"

Adam Lowe presented a talk at Project Space Art Jameel in Dubai entitled Traditional and Digital Artisans Meet, exploring the ways in which new technologies are being used in both architectural conservation and contemporary art. Using Stoppelaëre House in Egypt as a case study in technology transfer, training, and the use of non-invasive means for preservation, the discussion focuses on the importance of sustainable tourism. The talk also describes a more recent collaboration with Art Jameel, training students at the Jameel House of Traditional Arts (Jeddah) techniques in scanning and documenting the architectural heritage of Al-Balad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Recording Qut paintings in Asir, Saudi Arabia.

The Foundation, working with Art Jameel, has been on a fact finding mission that has involved the recording of some of the remaining examples of the delicate and discrete qut wall paintings. This image from Rijal Alma was recorded just before rebuilding was about to take place. As the country modernises and builds, the preservation of the remaining evidence of its deep cultural history is of great importance. Ali Moghawi was the guide for the visit. As always, in depth local knowledge is critical to an understanding of the specific challenges facing the protection of cultural heritage in the region. The artist Ahmed Mater accompanied Adam Lowe, Gabriel Scrapa and James Macmillan Scott and provided a unique insight into the needs of contemporary artists in the region.

3D model of the statue of Idrimi

The statue of Idrimi, a refugee from Aleppo who rose to become the king of Alalakh in southern Turkey 3,500 years ago, was recorded and scanned last February at the British Museum. A 3D model of the recorded data is now available on Sketchfab. The Factum Foundation will make a facsimile of the statue and donate it to to the UK charity Making-Light to be part of its exhibition Syria Past and Present. The statue of Idrimi has never left the British Museum because of conservation concerns.

Click on the link to read a review of the project published on 
Current Archeology.

Recording in Jeddah

Factum Foundation’s Pedro Miró and Otto Lowe traveled to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), as part of a pilot project with Art Jameel documenting vernacular architecture and training Saudi students in photogrammetry for cultural heritage preservation. During their time there, they recorded the surface of three traditional buildings in the old city by taking more than a 3,000 photographs at each site using both photogrammetry and the Faro Focus laser scanner. Preliminary processing demonstrates both the precision and adaptability of these two technologies. They also recorded trained students from Jameel House of Traditional Arts located in Al Balad, Jeddah and practiced recording architectural details details with them. 

Vandalism of Rock Art in Chad

It was recently reported that one of the best examples of rock art in the Ennedi region, just outside the Guelta of Archei, has been vandalised for the second time. Authorities suspect local youths have damaged the ancient cave paintings. Factum Foundation visited the site on its project with the Trust for African Rock Art in November 2016, as a part of a recording project to raise awareness about the threat posed to these sites. Click here for a report and photos of the incident or for the BBC News Report.  

Read about Factum Foundation’s collaboration with TARA in Chad and in Nigeria. Explore the sites with high-resolution viewers

New Facsimiles for Strawberry Hill House

Factum Foundation's collaboration with Strawberry Hill House is reaching critical mass. The facsimile of Allan Ramsay's portrait of Mrs. Laura Keppel and Charlotte, Lady Huntingtower in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is nearing completion and will be installed into the Gallery at Strawberry Hill House soon. The 33 drawings by George Vertue recorded along with their frames  at Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe last winter are being re-created. They were originally in Horace Walpole's collection and hung in the Holbein Chamber. The room has recently been restored and copies of the drawings in their specially designed frames will be returned very soon. These drawings are all copies of Holbein's portraits of the Tudor court at the time of Henry VIII. They are exquisitely observed manual copies of great sensitivity done at a time when printmakers like Vertue could copy with great skill. 

Learn more about the project here

A new book scanner in Daghestan

With the support of the Peri Foundation, the new Factum Foundation book scanner was installed  at the Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography (IHAE) in Makhachkala (Dagestan). The IHAE will start using this scanner to record their collection of over 3000 Islamic manuscripts, but this transfer of technology marks only the beginning of a long-term project that will eventually see the digitisation of an estimated 25,000 manuscripts held by private individuals, mosques, and madrasas in the region. Whilst the Factum team were in Makhachkala, Shamil Gadzhidadaev and Gennady Viktorov, two Dagestani photographers who learned 3D digital recording at Factum Arte (Madrid) in 2016, were themselves training two new photographers for another Peri/Factum project that will take place in northern Russia this summer. 

HRH The Prince of Wales inaugurates the Borgherini Chapel

Factum Foundation´s Borgherini Chapel is on display at the exhibition Michelangelo and Sebastiano  (March 15 - June 25).  HRH The Prince of Wales attended the opening and admired the Foundation´s re-creation that was positively reviewed in the press (see the articles by The Guardian and The Times). The Borgherini Chapel is a significant project that broadens the type of content that can be exhibited in a museum and prompts visitors to reconsider their notions of originality, authenticity and preservation as they view the re-creation alongside original works of art. 

Seti I update

In the past two months, Factum Foundation concluded the recording of the tomb of Seti I. The remaining fragments part of the collection of insitutions such as the Louvre, the British Museum, the Archeological Museum in Florence, and the Pergamon Museum were recorded with the Lucida scanner and photogramemtry. With this data, the Foundation will produce a facsimile of the tomb of Seti I in Madrid, which will be part of an exhibition at the Antikenmuseum in Basel next fall focusing on the various efforts to restore, preserve and study Seti I. 

Click here to read a full report on work carried-out in 2016 in Egypt. 

Stoppelaere House Training Centre in Luxor

On February 17th the Egyptian Minister for Antiquities Khaled El Enany, the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova and Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner attended the opening of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative Training Centre – at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings just above Carter’s House and the facsimile of Tutankhamun’s Tomb.  The Stoppelaere House, designed by Hassan Fathy and built in 1951, has been completely renovated by the Foundation under architect Tarek Waly’s direction - equipment was moved in just ahead of the opening. The Centre will now train Egyptians to use digital technology in preservation – to preserve their own heritage.  Read the reviews about the inaguration (Morgenblandet in Norwegean) (El PaísABC, in Spanish)

Scanning a damaged Monet

As a result of a collaboration between the Factum Foundation, MoMa and NYU, Pedro Miró and Carlos Bayod recorded the surface of Water Lilies by Claude Monet on February 14-16. The canvas, measuring  approx. 175 x 200 cm.,  was heavily damaged during a fire at MoMA in 1958 and donated to NYU´s Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center for research. The high-resolution relief data captured a detailed record of surface´s fragile state. The data was processed and an attempt to digitally restore the painting by reclaiming the colour and merging it with the surface data is currently underway. Digital restoration offers an opportunity to separate subjective projections onto the artwork from physical interventions with the original. 

Students from MS Historic Preservation program of Columbia University participated in the recording as part of their fieldwork exercise.

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