Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Art is on the Wall

Rather than the writing, in the Regal auditorium it's definitely the paintings which are on the wall. As anyone who has been in the Regal will tell you, pictures don't really do the fantastic Mediterranean-style mural justice (not that it stops us from trying!) - you really have to visit the cinema to see their true glory for yourself.

A major part of the restoration work is the restoration of these fantastic wall paintings. The mural artist has been on site since the beginning of January and will be there until late March; cleaning and restoring the entire auditorium by yourself is a big job!

The scaffolding that is up in the auditorium allows for some unique viewpoints on the mural, so in today's post I'll be sharing some photographs of the mural restoration in progress with you.

Wisteria hanging near the ceiling of the auditorium.

The wisteria section, with the mural artist's toolkit.

The first job was to clean all of the walls with a damp sponge. Just water was used, as some chemical cleaners might have damaged the paint. As you might expect, washing all of the walls in the auditorium with a sponge was quite a long job, but important; dust, dirt and nicotine staining from the years when you were allowed to smoke in the cinema had all combined to form a brown stain across all of the paintwork.

Part of the style in which the mural is painted is known as 'trompe l'oeil' which is French for 'decieve the eye'. This means making a two dimensional surface look like it has depth. The best example of this is the canopies above the windows into the projector room. Even in their slightly dilapidated state they are still very convincing and it takes many people a minute or two to decide if they are really sticking out from the other end of the auditorium.

The windows into the projection room.

Up on the scaffolding, you can see the shadows from the canopies that help to fool the eye into thinking they are hanging out into the auditorium. You can also see some of the damage that has occured to the paint over the years on the right-hand canopy.

After the walls were all cleaned down, the artist began the much-longer task of restoring and repairing the massive painting. There are many places where the paint has chipped or peeled off, like the damage you can see on the previous picture to the canopies. There are also sections of wall that you will have seen in previous posts where the plaster has come away from the wall entirely, destroyed by water damage from the leaking roof. Wherever there is damage, the artist uses photographs to recreate the original paintwork. As you can see from this picture, he mixes the colours as he goes. The subtle variations in colour from leaf to leaf, or roof tile to roof tile, help to add to the realism of the overall painting.

We hope you've enjoyed your introduction to the mural's restoration! We'll be bringing you more updates from the mural as the work goes on.

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