UPCE restorers save rare mosaic

19. 4. 2022

Experts from the Faculty of Restoration at the University of Pardubice participated in the restoration of a valued mosaic from the period of socialist realism in Liberec. The mosaic depicting a female and male student with attributes of technical disciplines towered over the entrance to the former dormitory, which is now part of the Technical University of Liberec. Due to the reconstruction of the building and work on its restoration, the restorers had to remove it from the wall three years ago.

"We first covered the mosaic with protective tape and then broke down the wall behind it. This was the only way to make the transport safe. Afterwards, we thinned the concrete panel that supports the mosaic for easier handling and transport," describes the vice-dean of the Faculty of Restoration at the University of Pardubice, Mgr. Jan Vojtěchovský, Ph.D. from the Studio of Restoration of Wall Painting, Sgraffito and Mosaics.

The mosaic, including the demolished 6 cm thick panel, originally weighed 150 kilograms. The restorers replaced the supporting surface with different materials that have sufficient strength but are much lighter. "Some of the mosaic cubes came loose during transport and during the thinning of the bed. We had to reattach them and adjust some of the joints. Some of the newly added glass cubes have also been thinned out," said Jan Vojtěchovský, who led the restoration group made up of students and teachers.

The mosaic, which reflects the period of socialist realism, is valued by conservationists. However, it will not return to its original place in the modern reconstructed building of the Technical University in Liberec. "The restored mosaic is one of the few existing examples of the innovative technology of prefabricated mosaics of the 1950s, which was developed in the national enterprise Železnobrodské sklo. That is why we will seek to have it placed in an institution where the public can see it," said restorer Jan Vojtěchovský.

The Faculty of Restoration at the University of Pardubice has been involved in the preservation of stone and rare mosaics for a long time. For example, two years ago, its experts restored a stone mosaic by painter Martin Sladky at a memorial in Prague that had been destroyed by vandals. Currently, it has also prepared a seminar and a workshop entitled Restoration of Mosaics of the so-called Czech Mosaic School of Glass and Stone. Over the course of two days, its experts will talk about the techniques, technologies and materials used, as well as the set-up of restoration procedures and approaches. The academics plan to hold the workshop on 28-29 April 2022 directly at the Faculty of Restoration in Litomyšl.