News and events
Two SUPSI Conservation and Restoration students in Uruguay
06 May 2019
Montevideo, Uruguay
On the occasion of his first official visit to South America, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis gave a speech in the Cathedral of San Josè in Uruguay, decorated with works by the Ticino artist Martino Perlasca. In his speech, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs recalled the Swiss efforts to rediscover the works of the Ticino artist in two historic buildings in Montevideo, the Club Uruguay and the Teatro Sala Verdi. It is in this theatre that Sara Paganoni and Martina Candiani, students of the SUPSI Degree Course in Conservation and Restoration, Department of Environment, Construction and Design, are participating in the work of restoration of the wall paintings.

“This training experience in the field”, explains Giacinta Jean, head of the Degree Course in Conservation and Restoration, “represents a truly exceptional opportunity to further expand a series of collaborative initiatives between Switzerland, Ticino and Uruguay, offering fifth year students the chance to work for two months in a very distant working environment.” The vocational training course makes it possible to overcome barriers and obstacles. The two students were included in the team coordinated by restorer Claudia Frigerio with the aim of understanding whether the wall paintings made by the Ticino artist Martino Perlasca are still present under the traditional whitewashing, their state of preservation and to evaluate the possibility of bringing them back to light. This fascinating but very delicate work requires students who already have a good basic training and who are able to master the different techniques of chemical and mechanical cleaning (with the use of scalpels) with a certain knowledge.
The project in which the two students have taken part was made possible thanks to the collaboration between the Swiss embassy in Montevideo, restorer Claudia Frigerio and SUPSI. Sara and Martina's task is to investigate the presence of the original paintings made by the Ticino painter Martino Perlasca, attested by documents and articles of the time within the Teatro Sala Verdi. The work consists in taking stratigraphic samples, i.e. the identification and removal of each individual layer that makes up the stratigraphy of the wall, until it reaches the original one. The various layers are then recorded and described, so as to obtain a clear stratification of the wall.
“It is an experience that is giving us the opportunity to engage with a professional environment that is both different and challenging. Thanks to the skills acquired during the years of study at SUPSI we felt confident and independent, despite some differences in the approach to work,” says Martina. “Immediately,” continues Sara “we established a wonderful relationship with our colleagues and with the restorer Claudia Frigerio, who welcomed us and made themselves available to help us get to know the city better.” 
Martina and Sara found a friendly and peaceful environment in Montevideo that they immediately liked. They told us about the extended helpfulness and courtesy of the inhabitants of the Uruguayan capital, and their efforts, despite the linguistic distance, in communicating very effectively with them.
“In our free time we follow the habit of the local people to go for a stroll along the Rambla, the road that runs along the Rio de la Plata, that, in fine weather, is literally overrun by the inhabitants of Montevideo on foot or with bicycles or scooters,” continue the two students “it was also possible to visit nearby places such as Cabo Polonio, a coastal village within a natural reserve.”

A truly rewarding experience for the two students, excited by the meeting with the Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis during the visit to the Cathedral of San Josè and the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Montevideo, but, above all, “enthusiastic about the opportunities we have had to present the work we are doing within the Sala Verdi both to the Councillor and to the Swiss and Uruguayan authorities.”