Monday, December 3, 2012

Before and After

Well the journey is over, and what better way to look back at this journey than a before and after comparison. Above is a photo taken on the day that the Totem Pole was removed from the lawn of official residence of the Ambassador of Canada.  At the time the Totem Pole was in really rough shape.  It took many hours of restoration work, planning, and many unexpected surprises to take this weathered piece of Canadian art and bring it back.
Today the Chief's Crest Pole stands, indoors, at the Benaki museum (at 138 Pireos Street) in Athens.  The colours are vibrant, the ants are gone, and the many holes have been filled.  For me personally it has been a great journey learning about Canadian history, art restoration, and how art galleries and museums work.  I've been lucky to meet many great people along this journey, many of whom are new friends.  I don't think this is the end for me since I plan on visiting the Chief's Crest Pole many times again.  The Totem Pole is scheduled to remain at the Benaki for a while, it will then be moved to a permanent location that has yet to be announced.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Totem Pole Is Up and Ready For You To Visit!!!

It's official, the Totem Pole is up and ready for the public to see.  Yesterday was the first official day that the public could visit the Chief's Crest Pole in its new location at the Benaki museum.
The day started with a visit from a delegation from Simon Fraser University, representatives from the Benaki museum, as well representatives from the Canadian Embassy.  All of these people, as well as a few that couldn't make it, worked hard to arrange, and fund this entire project.  It was nice that they could come and see the fruits of their labor.
After a few words everybody got a close up look at the Totem Pole.
Make sure to stop by the Benaki museum (at 138 Pireos Street) yourself and visit the Chief's Crest Pole.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Move Downstairs at The Benaki Museum

A new base has been designed for the Totem Pole, and the paint/consolidation work is all dry.  This means that the Totem Pole is ready to be moved to the ground floor of the Benaki museum for display, standing upright, as it was meant to be seen.  Once again our expert team of movers wraps up the Chiefs Crest Pole preparing it for the move.
As with moving it upstairs, everything is done slowly and carefully.
Once in the area when it will be displayed, the Totem Pole is carefully positioned and lifted to its resting place.  This was the moment that everybody was nervous and where the movers worked extra carefully.
But everything went off without a hitch, and after a few adjustments to be sure that the Totem Pole was placed in the best possible spot, the protective wrapper was removed.
Now the Chief's Crest Pole awaits its grand showing, this Thursday when the Benaki museum open's its doors.  If you'd like to come visit the Totem Pole, this Thursday, or any day, it will remain on display for a while.  You can click here for more information about the museum and its hours.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Totem Pole Inspires

Βασιλική Γεροκώστα an artist who had visited the Totem Pole last week, sent us some wonderful coloured art pieces inspired by the Chief's Crest Pole.
They look fantastic and she got the colour and design details down very well.  You can check out more of her artwork on her website here.  If you have a photo or drawing of the Totem Pole that you'd like to share upload it to our Facebook page, or send us a message.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Andrew Todd's Final Touches

 Yesterday was the last day that Andrew was working on the Totem Pole.  He had a few finishing touches and he was going to be done.
 At this almost finished state the Totem Pole looks great.  The colours are vibrant and the Raven, Chief, Frog and Whale are looking fantastic.
The last part to finish is the Whale, since it was the most damaged, but I'm really surprised at how good it looks even at this stage. Andrew did a great job with the Totem Pole, and we wish him a safe journey home back to Canada.  Hopefully he'll be able to return soon to see the Totem Pole standing once again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Totem Pole Is Visited By Artists

The finishing touches were starting to be applied to the Totem Pole this past weekend. Lots of consolidation work and a few more holes to fill.
Andrew and Totem Pole also got a visit from a group of children participating in a workshop at the Benaki Museum   The kids, and their parents, had the opportunity to learn about the Totem Pole from Andrew.  He explained a little bit about Aboriginal history, what the Totem Pole represented, and how he was fixing it.
The kids were able to watch Andrew at work and ask him any questions.
They also had an opportunity to come up close and see the Totem Pole from all angles.
After they visited the Totem Pole, the kids got together to build a Totem Pole of their own.
After each portion of their Totem Pole was assembled.
The kids got to present their Totem Pole and hung it next to the Chief's Crest Pole.  Everyone was very impressed.
Not only did we get a visit from the kids, but we also got a visit from Βασιλική Γεροκώστα a Greek visual artist here in Athens.  She was sketching some fantastic renditions of the Totem Pole in her sketch book.  You can check out some of her other art on her website here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What Goes In The Gaps

When repairing the holes in the Chief's Crest Pole, Andrew uses two different types of fillers.  The one above is an epoxy based filler.  The epoxy is used in areas that carry a big load and require a great deal of strength.
The other kind of filler he uses is a PH balanced glue filler.  The glue is used in smaller less structurally important areas.
Both of the fillers contain a mix of powders used to give the glue extra strength.
The epoxy filler also contains sawdust used to give it even more strength.  The sawdust used was brought over from Canada and is Red Cedar, the same type of wood that the Totem Pole was carved from.
Mixing the epoxy is very tricky work.  It's made up of two parts that must be mixed perfectly.  Even the temperature outside can affect the speed the epoxy will dry and how strong it will be when it dries.  It's very precis work that takes years of experience to perfect.
After the powder, sawdust, and epoxy are mixed, it must be used immediately   It takes only a short time for it to dry and becomes very difficult to work with.
The filler made from the PF balanced glue is a little more forgiving, since it doesn't dry as quickly, but it's not as strong as the epoxy.
When applying the epoxy, Andrew works very hard to mold it too the contours of the Totem Pole.  When it fully dries, about 24 hours after it's applied, he can carve it, but the idea is to apply it perfectly with as little carving as possible.
After the fillers dry, and any carving is done, Andrew can apply the consolidant and paint to these areas.  Once it's covered up it blends into the Totem Pole virtually flawlessly.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Did You Miss The Andrew Todd Lecture?

If you couldn't make it to the Andrew Todd Lecture at the Canadian Institute in Greece last week, don't despair   We've just posted the whole thing (in 6 parts) on You Tube.  You can watch the first part above, and check out the rest of the episodes on our You Tube channel.

Also, this is just a reminder that the Benaki museum is hosting a workshop this Saturday.  If you want a chance to learn a little bit about the Totem Pole and participate in some fun workshops make sure to stop by.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Consolidation, Visitors, and a Whales Head

While it looks like Andrew is simply painting the Totem Pole in this photos, there's a lot more going on.  Andrew is using something called a consolidant to repair the old paint as well.  The product does have pigment mixed in, but it's much more than that.  Consolidant protects the original paint on the Totem Pole by helping it bond to the wood and adding a layer of protection on top.  This technique allows the spaces where the paint is too damaged and had to be removed to be filled in with colour, as well as protects the original paint that remains.
If you haven't had time to visit Andrew at the Benaki museum, you might want to make arrangements soon.  He's only here till the end of the month (Here's some more information about visiting the Totem Pole).  Already hundreds of people have stopped by to say hello to Andrew and the Chief's Crest Pole.  Hopefully a few people have left with a better understanding of Canadian culture and history as well.
Some people have commented that the base of the Totem Pole seems like it's in really rough shape.  As you can see, Andrew has been doing some serious work here.  It's probably the most challenging part of the repair, with a great deal of detail missing on this side.
Fortunately the other side of the Totem Pole seems to be in better condition, and this gives Andrew many clues as to how the other side should look.  Andrew has even sketched the details from this side of the Totem Pole to help him work out how to fix the other side.
This Saturday (October 27th) the Benaki museum is putting on an educational program all about the Totem Pole:

Totem: a gift of friendship
Two unique visitors from the other side of the world are eager to reveal their secrets!
How will you reciprocate this gift?

If you want to be a part of this wonderful program click here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Busy Friday for Andrew and The Chief's Crest Pole

 Yesterday was a really busy day for Andrew and the Chief's Crest Pole.
The progression on filling in the holes and damaged areas is moving along as usual.  Andrew has started to use epoxy to fill in the cracks along with the pieces of Red Cedar that he brought over from Canada.  Andrew tells me that after the epoxy is painted you'll hardly be able to see the epoxy at all.
A new mystery was uncovered recently in the blowhole of the whale.  It appears that there used to be a red stripe around the top of the blowhole that was painted over in white.  The problem is we're not really sure when it was painted over and why.  Andrew will have to do some research and some thinking to make his decision as to how to paint this portion of the Totem Pole.
The other big news was the removal of the fin from the whale.  There has been some speculation that the fin was in fact re-installed upside down at one point.  The decision seems to be that reversing the fin is the correct thing to do.
 Here's the first photo of the Totem Pole with the fin reversed.  At this point the fin is not permanently fixed as Andrew has more repair work to do before it can be permanently installed.
 Not only was there some monumental work done on the Totem Pole today, but we also had some special guests come to visit from the Lady Ambassadors and Ambassador Spouses in Athens.
 Andrew gave them a short lecture about the Chief's Crest Pole as well as Aboriginal culture.
It seems as if everybody had a really good time and learned a little bit about Canada's culture and art history.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lecture At The Canadian Institute In Greece

Last night Andrew Todd gave a very interesting lecture at the Canadian Institute in Greece. The topic of the lecture was on Andrew's specialty, the restoration of Canadian Aboriginal art, with a focus on Totem Poles.  Andrew went over such topics as Aboriginal culture, Totem Pole history, as well as giving some great examples of the challenges he's faced conserving these pieces of Canadian heritage.
After the lecture there was time to answer a few questions from the audience.
Then there was a short reception.
It was a very interesting lecture with a wonderful crowd in attendance   If you couldn't make it to the lecture yourself, make sure that you stop by the Benaki museum and say hello to Andrew, he'll be available regularly to answer any questions you might have.  Click here for his hours and more information about the events at the Benaki museum.