Guyana and Argentina strengthen ties through culture -restoration project commences at the National Art Gallery

(Georgetown, September 8, 2017) –  The Ministry of Social Cohesion and the Embassy of Argentina hosted a reception, at the Theatre Guild, in honour of the visiting art restoration and preservation experts Mr. Néstor Barrio, Dean of the Research Institute on the Cultural Patrimony, and Ms. Damasia Gallegos, Director of the “Taller Tarea”. The team is here in Guyana to give much-needed support to the restoration of the pieces of art in the National Collection housed at the National Gallery of Art.

Prior to the reception, there was a cultural presentation which showcased aspects of Guyanese culture through dance, song and steel pan. The audience was entertained by the National Dance Company, the National Steel Orchestra, the reigning Calypso Monarch – Diana Chapman, the Nachgana Dance Academy, the St. Cuthbert’s Dance Group and a masquerade performance by the Golden Arrowhead Band.

In his remarks, the Minister of Social Cohesion, Hon. Dr. George Norton recognised that “Guyana and Argentina have over the years shared fruitful bilateral relations in various sectors including culture; this will see the restoration of a number of prized paintings from the National Collection of Art which has deteriorated”.

Minister Norton noted that this collaboration has far reaching implications and will certainly go a long way in the preservation of cultural heritage in Guyana. “The Ministry of Social Cohesion considers this a priority,” he emphasised.

The impact of this project auger well for the future of art, cultural heritage, cultural institutions, the visual arts community and by extension the wider public.

“Cultural preservation is a humongous task which cannot be undertaken by the Government of Guyana alone. As such, I wish to take this opportunity to express profound gratitude to the Government of Argentina for their support,” the Minister said.

Minister Norton indicated that where collaboration exists, great things can be achieved. “I look forward to the successful implementation of this project and the further deepening of ties between the two countries,” he said.

H.E. Luis Martino, Ambassador of Argentina to Guyana, in his remarks, indicated that with the new mechanism of the South/South cooperation it was decided that culture and arts are part of a major effort undertaken by Argentine to promote regional integration.

Ambassador Martino explained that this is part of an effort among countries to strengthen bilateral relations through culture, arts and education projects. He emphasised that this is the beginning of a new brand of cooperation, and is the first of its kind in the South/South Cooperation Fund.

This visit is a result of a collaborative effort between the Government of Guyana and the Government of Argentina, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, involving the restoration and conservation, over a period of time, of a number of works of art belonging to the National Collection of Art housed at the National Gallery of Art, CASTELLANI HOUSE. The project will be implemented by the “TALLER TAREA” of the Cultural Heritage Research Institute (TAREA-IIPC) at the National University of San Martín (UNSAM) located in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It will be conducted in coordination and collaboration between the National Gallery of Art of Guyana and the experts of TAREA-IIPC UNSAM.

This visit is essentially an exploratory mission in which the Argentine team will be conducting a first assessment of the damaged works of art, most of them oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, canvas boards, tentest and tentest lined with fabric, after which a proposal will be put in place on the way forward to implement the project.

During their stint in Guyana, the Argentine experts will undertake the following tasks:

– Works of art will be meticulously examined by experts of TAREA-IIPC UNSAM and assessment of conditions and needs for restoration and conservation will be conducted.

– Identification of the material and techniques needed in order to restore and conserve works of art, in order to consolidate the future exhibitions of the Guyana National Collection of Art.

– Identification of a pool of resource persons from the National Gallery of Art and other cultural institutions of Guyana, who will receive training in conservation and restoration.

This project is estimated to impact approximately 250,000 people belonging to the cultural institutions and the visual arts community in Guyana inclusive of artists, students, researchers and the general public. Being the National Gallery of Art the most important gallery in Guyana, it has a constant flow of people from all over Guyana and other countries who regularly visit the Gallery to see the exhibitions. In this sense, the project can contribute greatly to the visibility of art in Guyana, thereby generating more interest and knowledge about the artists of Guyana.

The project will also impact on the lives of those artists whose works need to be restored and preserved. In addition, it will have an impact on the families of the deceased artists, whose works will also be restored in this project. In turn, the project will garner positive results for the persons who will receive training throughout the different stages of the project, and will serve other cultural and heritage institutions in Guyana, which face similar situations with needs for conservation and restoration. The persons who will participate in the training will be selected from the various cultural institutions proposed by Guyana. Participants will be drawn from the National Gallery of Art, the E.R. Burrowes School of Art, the University of Guyana, the National Archives, the National Trust, the National Museum, the Museum of African Heritage and the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology.