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Conservation of wood-carved iconostasis

H.C. of Saint Georgios | Ormylia | Chalkidiki

The Church of St. George in Ormylia of Halkidiki is decorated with a wooden iconostasis, dating from the second quarter of the 19th century. In total, it has a surface area of 92.25 m2, 12.5 m wide and 7.5 m tall.

All conservation work was done in situ, lasting about four months.

The iconostasis is covered with carved wooden ornamentations but is distinguished further by its elaborate painted floral motifs and botanical themes, which are paradigmatic examples of 18th-19th century folk tradition in ecclesiastical decoration in both Northern Greece and the Balkans.

The royal doors and the beautiful gate are elaborately decorated and exceptionally beautiful. They possess carved and painted scenes of groups of animals and birds alongside stylised floral motifs. The scenes in the icons on the royal doors belong to the 20th century and are late overpaintings. The pulpit or amvon of the Church also bears decorations from the same period.

The iconostasis had undergone successive alterations from “interventions” that it received, both with regards to its aesthetic quality as well as its physical integrity. Additionally, the use of oil paint and varnish had caused the wood to begin oxidizing.

Conservation work was also carried out on the icons in the iconostasis. The conservation staff of ARTIS worked on a total of forty-six icons (11 Sovereign tier icons, 35 on tiers above) using various, specific techniques, which revealed that these icons were made by a number of different iconography studios.

All interventions and conservation work carried out by ARTIS were done with respect for the authenticity of the original work, its historical character and originality, always in adherence to certain basic ethical principles of conservation (reversibility, minimal intervention, readability).

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