A Restoration Odyssey – Conservation of Bhutan’s Thangka Paintings
Evening Presentation by Ephraim Jose, Asian Art Conservator
Drinks Reception at 6:30 pm, Presentationat 7pm, Close at 8pm
Thangkas (Himalayan Buddhist devotional works on cloth) play a very important role in the practice of Buddhism. They are used daily for rituals and meditations, and displayed in temples where they are exposed to the elements and to smoke from the butter lamps. Over time, thangkas become worn and soiled from handling as well as exposure to dust, soot, insects, light and simple aging. Some of these works have also suffered damage from accidents. While traditional care given to the thangkas has helped minimize problems, these works have gradually become fragile and are in need of restoration.
Ephraim ”Eddie” Jose has been teaching and training monks in Bhutan to restore their sacred thangkas since 2004. Working with HRM The Grand Queen Mother, Ashi Kesang Wangchuck, the Central Monastic Body and the Royal Government of Bhutan, Eddie has been traveling throughout Bhutan visiting monasteries and temple for the purpose of preserving their sacred treasures. He was the Chief Conservator behind Terese Bartholomew and Stephen Little’s ground breaking exhibition The Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan, which traveled to America and Europe with great success from 2008 to 2010. Eddie lived in Japan for eleven years and was trained by the late Master Conservator Tatsuji Handa. In late 1998 he was the first non-Japanese to be certified by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Properties. Eddie moved to the San Francisco bay area in 1990 to set up his own conservation studio. He has restored Japanese, Chinese, Korean paintings and thangkas for museums and collectors. He also gives lectures on Asian painting conservation to museums and universities worldwide. After 5 years with the Honolulu Academy of Arts, he is now based in Bellevue, Washington, and is an art conservation consultant to corporates and private collections. Bringing rare samples of restored thangkas for audience’s closer study, Eddie will share his experience of working with monks, and explain the significance of the conservation program he is conducting and helping to sustain in Bhutan’s Buddhist community.