The summer workshops around Poland to reconstruct the intricate painted murals on the replicated ceiling of the 17th-century Gwozdziec synagogue have gotten under way! The workshops are taking place in five synagogues (active and non) around Poland: Gdansk, Sejny, Wroclaw, Szczebrzeczyn, and Kazimierz Dolny.
The project is being carried out by the Massachusetts-based Handshouse Studio, in
association with the forthcoming Museum of the History of Polish Jews — and the reconstructed ceiling and cupola will be a major installation in the new museum. Last year, students and expert timber framers collaborated to build an 80 percent scale copy of the wooden cupola itself, using traditional tools and methods. The Gwozdziec synagogue — like all the highly elaborate wooden synagogues in the region — was torched by the Nazis and destroyed in World War II.
Handshouse Studio has started up a blog to chronicle the ceiling painting process.
Here’s a report from Day 1:
The Gwozdziec Synagogue Reconstruction Project of summer 2012 has begun!!! We will be working for the next two weeks in a wonderful, active synagogue in Gdansk. This morning we met the four
Polish and one Belarusian student that will be working with us during the first painting session. They were immediately tossed into the signature Handshouse “organized chaos” as the delivery truck pulled up carrying all of the painting supplies and panels from Warsaw and the unloading commenced.
In three busy hours, we transformed the synagogue into a worksite, with colorful test panels lining the walls and tables set
up with brushes, pigments to be mixed and blank panels to be painted. This flurry of activity settled down, followed by a press conference, hosted by the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, and attended by the mayor of Gdansk!
Following this, Robert Supel and Piotr from the Museum gave a presentation about the mission of the exhibitions. Their statements were thoughtful and thought-provoking and gave us an important context in which to think about the work we are doing.
Happily, the project successfully raised enough via a Kickstarter project to fund a documentary film about the project.
See more about the project — and Handhouse Studio — in this video: