Rio Tera Barba Frutariol, Wayside Sculpture, 2002-04

This important piece of urban decorative art had been neglected to the point where it had been almost completely lost. Other sponsors had offered funds that then had to be withdrawn and during the period of inaction surface detail gradually flaked off and was swept up or washed away with the rain. The project serves as a reminder of the consequence of failing to maintain and not acting quickly enough. This 15th-century sculpture of an angel (c. 1485) in low relief is on the side of a house in Rio Terà Barba Frutariol, Cannaregio. The angel holding a shield is attributed to Antonio Rizzo, the main sculptor of the Palazzo Ducale. By the time action was taken, all the original surface detail had flaked off except for part of the head and wing of the angel in the top left hand corner. Before removal of the relief from its seating the whole surface was stabilised with Japanese paper. Moisture and salts were removed from the two slabs, which were then impregnated with protective consolidant using a vacuum process. The delicate work of cleaning the surviving detail was performed with a laser process. Before re-installation, the seating was lined to ensure no further salt-laden humidity migrated to the marble from the brick wall.

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