Location: Sofia and Western Bulgaria, Bulgaria
The decline of Bulgarian and Byzantine Empires in the fourteenth century, raise and fall of Serbian Kingdom (an Empire between 1346-1371), Ottoman conquest of South-eastern Europe and the apogee of Ottoman power between the second half of fourteenth and the end of seventeenth century highlight the Balkan Late Medieval Period. Churches and chapels to be visited and studied were built during these turbulent times in one of the few Balkan areas where the traditions of all the major Balkan Late Medieval Art Schools and Guilds (those of Constantinople, Veliko Tarnovo, Ohrid, Thessaloniki, the Athos Holy Mountain, Epirus, Creta and the Danubain principalities) met. What we see today from the once flourishing medieval Orthodox art in the area are just small chapels and churches that survived the “disastrous” Ottoman invasion in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Many of these monuments characterized by humble architecture often hide exquisite frescoes behind their unattractive exterior. Most of them have been abandoned long ago. There are visible damages due to both hostile acts of Muslims (in the period of Ottoman domination: fifteenth to nineteenth century.) and/or weather conditions ruining them after they were abandoned.
The project aims to support the documentation of medieval frescoes preserved in abandoned churches and chapels in remote areas of Western Bulgaria. Their number has permanently decreased due to the lack of effort to preserve and protect them from weather damage. For the last five years the “Fresco-Hunting” Photo Expedition has been upgrading the existing database of drawn and photographic records of eleven churches and chapels in Western Bulgaria. The task of the expedition envisioned for 2013 is to enhance the database created during the previous seasons by documenting frescoes and their condition as well as collecting new data on history, architecture, artifacts and environment of the ecclesiastical buildings they belong to. The objective is: the publication of a ‘Corpus of Medieval Frescoes from Western Bulgaria’ and development of further projects to support the sites in danger through conservation,restoration, development/improvement of the site's management and fund-raising.
The field school project is comprised of two parts:
1. Standard Field School Project (11 - 25 May, 2013):
* In 2013 the “Fresco Hunting” Photo Expedition will continue to expand the existing iconographic schemes of imaging the Medieval Churches in Western Bulgaria by employing Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). The objective of this module of the “Fresco Hunt” is to introduce the new and affordable technique of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) in order to document rapidly decaying and damaged frescos in selected Medieval Churches in Western Bulgaria. In the RTI technique a camera is focused at a surface and series of photographs are taken each with a different light position. A free software package originally developed at Hewlett-Packard Labs is then used to combine the information from the sixty or so images to produce a single three-dimensional rendering of the surface. This digital technique is non-invasive and non-destructive and is rapidly becoming a standard investigative tool for Archeologists and Art Conservators.
Prior knowledge of basic and/or digital photography is recommended, however the field school will provide the participants with the toolset for advanced technical photography as it is currently used in Art Conservation and Archeology.
2. Extended Field School Project Stage (26 May - 1 June, 2013):
Note, the fieldwork will involve travel to the church sites (app. 60-80 km away from Bankya)! Transport will be arranged by BH Field School.
The project will admit participants to:
All participants will receive:
The project is not recommended for individuals with special illnesses that might exacerbate during the intensive outdoor activities. All participants are expected to bring individual digital cameras. The participants are encouraged to bring a laptop having at least 5 GB free disk space, a mouse and an USB flash drive.
Period(s) of Occupation: Late Medieval period (14th to 17th centuries)
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 session (2 weeks)
Room and Board Arrangements
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Mango, Cyril. History of World Architecture: Byzantine Architecture. Rizzoli International Publishing, New York. 1978.
Mora. P., Laura Mora. Conservation of Wall Paintings (Butterworth - Heinemann Series in Conservation and Museology). Butterworth-Heinemann. 1984
Safran, L (Editor). Heaven on Earth: Art and the Church in Byzantium. Pennsylvania State University Press. 1998
Tragido, Alfredo. Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Guide to Imagery Series). 2006.