Research Report and Presentation Exhibition 2020
The Sculpture Conservation and Restoration Laboratory at Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA)
In Japan, the vast majority of traditional sculpture is devoted to Buddhist art and although there was a great diversity in the materials and techniques used in its production, wood has always been the favorite. We believe that the eﬀort to preserve these cultural assets, that have endured through the centuries, is as important as the creation of contemporary works. This means that it is vital that we rediscover and preserve the techniques used in their construction while, simultaneously, fostering artists capable of carrying them out. It is only once this has been achieved that new measures for the preservation of cultural properties will come into being. At our laboratory we do not limit ourselves to the study of restoration techniques or the education of people capable of carrying them out in the narrow sense. Rather, we treat these marvelous cultural properties, that were born of Japan's cultural climate and to which our ancestors turned for peace of mind, with the utmost respect, while making every eﬀort to pass them, the techniques and the spirit they embody, on to future generations.
Video 3 of Nio Statue of Rakuhoji Temple was added.
The video of the Shakyamuni Buddha statue was added.
Video 2 of Nio Statue of Rakuhoji Temple was added.
Video of the statue of HachimanShin was added.
Video 1 of Nio Statue of Rakuhoji Temple was added.
Video of the statue of Bodhisattva at Byodoin was added.
Video of the Shosenji Bodhisattva was added.
Video of the statue of the Daizuiku Bosatsu was added.
For holding an online exhibition
Once again this year our laboratory achieved great results in its academic research and we were looking forward to presenting these to everybody, but then we were suddenly confronted with the current state of emergency and forced to abandon our plans to hold an exhibition in the University Art Museum. It was a great disappointment. However, our seminar never fails to make the best of a bad situation and so, hastily mastering new technologies, we are now able to exhibit the results of our activities online. I do not have the words to express my gratitude to the outstanding efforts of the laboratory staff for bringing a casual suggestion of mine to fruition in this way. It is our first attempt at an online presentation so there has been a tendency for our ambitions to outrun our abilities, but this project was achieved in a very short time and we hope you will overlook any shortcomings it may have.
Our works in 2019
Our laboratory refers to the reproduction of old Buddhist statues as ‘reproduction research’, using it as a method of mastering the techniques and aesthetics of the sculptors of the past and the skills acquired in this way are then applied to the conservation of cultural properties or classical research. We also employ the latest 3D measuring technology as an aid in our studies and conservation of cultural properties. Normally, we would present the results of our research in an exhibition at the University Art Museum, but as that is not possible this year due to the Corvid-19 pandemic, we hope that you will take the time to view it online.
When working on reproductions we make every effort to recreate the same techniques, structures and materials that were employed in the originals in order to further our research. We also employ the latest scientific technology, such as X-ray photography and 3D laser scanning, but the actual work of creating the reproductions is carried out by hand in order to deepen our understanding of ancient statues.
The laboratory is also commissioned from outside the university to work on the actual restoration of cultural properties, allowing us to deepen our understanding of the culture and historical background that existed when at the time they were produced. This is an important factor in training the people who will go on to become involved in preservation of cultural properties in the future.
Our laboratory has collected 3D data on numerous Buddhist statues that have been designated National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties and this data provides an important aid in the education and study of reproduction and restoration.