The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation - The Courtauld Institute of Art

The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation

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The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation

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Established in 2012 with a munificent endowment to The Courtauld from The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation of Hong Kong, the Centre reflects the Ho Foundation’s express interests in promoting education in the arts, and in encouraging cross-cultural understanding and the preservation of the Buddhist cultural heritage. The Centre builds on the research, conservation and teaching in Asia—in Bhutan, China and India—by The Courtauld’s Conservation of Wall Painting Department, and also The Courtauld’s expansion beyond the Western art tradition in its art-historical teaching.

A major role of the Centre focuses on the MA in Buddhist Art: History and Conservation. Recognising the global significance of the vast cultural heritage of Buddhism, this innovative MA combines, for the first time, the separate studies of Buddhism, Buddhist art and its conservation. Taught by a wide range of specialists, the multidisciplinary course will advance understanding and scholarship of what objects mean, how they are made, used and deteriorate, and foster appreciation of their significance and need for preservation.

In announcing the MA, Robert Y. C. Ho, Chairman of the Ho Family Foundation, remarked, ‘Until now, Buddhism and Buddhist art and its conservation have been studied separately. We are delighted to support the integration of these fields in a new program that will impact not only on academia but on the preservation of irreplaceable treasures around the world, treasures we see disappearing on a daily basis.’

Other activities of the Centre include conferences and public lectures, of which a forerunner was The Buddhist Art Forum  held at The Courtauld from 11 to 14 April 2012. Likewise addressing issues of the production, use, study, display and conservation of Buddhist art, the Forum brought together varied specialists and stakeholders from around the world to explore their connection, and the Proceedings are now published by Archetype and the book can be ordered directly from the publisher by emailing info@archetype.co.uk.

Events in 2014 included the premiere of the TV documentary, Buddhist Art: a Fragile Inheritance, which focuses on The Courtauld’s conservation work in Asia, and a conference jointly organized with British Museum on the early Buddhist sculptures of Amaravati (India).

International Advisory Board 2012-2015
Prof Kate Crosby Department of Theology & Religious Studies, King’s College London
Dr Nathan W. Hill Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, SOAS
Robert Y. C. Ho Chairman, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation
Ted Lipman Chief Executive Officer, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation
Dr Christian Luczanits Senior Lecturer, Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS
Beth McKillop Deputy Director and Director of Collections, Victoria & Albert Museum
Jan Stuart Melvin R. Seiden Curator of Chinese Art, Freer and Sackler Galleries, The Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art
Prof Roderick Whitfield Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS
Antoine M. Wilmering Senior Program Officer, The Getty Foundation
Prof Xinzhong Yao Director of the Lau China Institute, King’s College London
Richard Blurton External Examiner, Curator, Department of Asia, British Museum
ex officio
Prof Sharon Cather Shelby White and Leon Levy Professor of Conservation Studies at The Courtauld Institute of Art
Dr Giovanni Verri Lecturer, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation at The Courtauld Institute of Art
Prof David Park Director of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation at The Courtauld and of the Conservation of Wall Painting Department at The Courtauld Institute of Art
**Prof Deborah Swallow Director, The Courtauld Institute of Art
* Dr Wenny Teo Lecturer, The Courtauld Institute of Art

* to alternate at meetings as appropriate

Constitution and Terms of Reference of the International Advisory Board and Board of Examiners

An International Advisory Board, normally meeting twice yearly, advises on the academic and teaching standards of the MA course through monitoring the content and organisation of the curriculum, and by advising on development and assessment. The Board also reviews and advises on the supervision of students engaged in research for higher degrees, and also on other activities of the Centre.

Members are appointed for 3-year periods, though appointment of new members is staggered to provide continuity. The interdisciplinary and international nature of the course is reflected in the membership of the Board.

The Board of Examiners ensures that the highest standards are maintained in the formal assessment of written examinations, individual research and vivas.

Publications

The Art of Merit

The Art of Merit, Archetype Publications 2013

Buddhist art – its nature, creation, function, conservation and contemporary manifestations – was the subject of the Buddhist Art Forum, a major conference held at The Courtauld Institute of Art in 2012 and sponsored by The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation. For the first time a representative group of those with a stake in Buddhist art – including art historians, conservators, curators and officials, a monk from Nepal and a contemporary artist – was gathered to address these issues.

The resulting ground-breaking volume has now been published by Archetype Publications. Its twenty-eight papers consider Buddhist art from the earliest Indian stupas to contemporary Himalayan thangkas, as well as its ritual use and audience, its tourist consumption in expanding economies, its often ill-conceived conservation, and its influence on modern and contemporary western art.

A stimulating range of viewpoints is expressed in this lavishly illustrated volume, making a genuine contribution to the awareness and understanding of these issues and developments that goes beyond regional and specialist boundaries.

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Looted, Recovered, Returned: Antiques from Afghanistan, Arhcaeopress Archaeology 2014Looted, Recovered, Returned: Antiquities from Afghanistan, Archaeopress Archaeology 2014

 A detailed scientific and conservation record of a group of ivory and bone furniture overlays excavated at Begram, stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan, privately acquired on behalf of Kabul, analysed and conserved at the British Museum and returned to the National Museum of Afghanistan in 2012.

The “Begram ivories” are widely considered to be miniature masterpieces of Indian art and are one of the largest archaeological collections of ancient ivories. They were excavated at the site of Begram, in northern Afghanistan, in 1937 and 1939 and belong to a period when Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India were united under rulers of the Kushan dynasty. Divided soon afterwards between the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul and the Musée national des arts asiatiques–Guimet in Paris, the collection in Kabul suffered a disaster during the civil war which ravaged the country during the early 1990s. Some of the pieces were successfully concealed by museum staff but most were stolen, hundreds have since been reported in different collections and very few have yet been recovered. In 2011 a group of twenty bone and ivory plaques was generously acquired for the National Museum of Afghanistan by a private individual. These were scientifically analysed, conserved and exhibited at the British Museum and returned to Kabul in 2012. This book describes their story from excavation to display and return, with individual object biographies and detailed scientific analyses and conservation treatments. It also discusses how these objects have attracted very different interpretations over the decades since their discovery, and how the new analyses shed a completely fresh light on the collection. It is lavishly illustrated in full colour, and includes many previously unpublished views of the objects when they were originally exhibited in Kabul. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the archaeology of Afghanistan, Indian art, polychromy, museum studies, object biographies or the history of conservation.

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The Study and Conservation of the Silk Painting 'Death off the Buddha', Archetype Publications 2014The Study and Conservation of the Silk Painting Death of the Buddha – Keisuke Sugiyama, Tim Clark, Janet Ambers and Giovanni Verri, Archetype Publications 2014

 

The painting of Death of the Buddha (1913,0501,0.40) has probably never been on display at the British Museum since it was acquired in 1913 due to its poor condition at that time. This fifteenth-century Buddhist painting was recently fully conserved and remounted as a hanging scroll. What is known of the painting’s history is explained and its condition before treatment is described as background to a full account of the entire treatment process. The successful conservation and mounting of a complex painting on silk as a hanging scroll requires a great number of treatment stages, each involving hundreds of careful steps. The overall procedure is here dealt with in three categories: conservation, mounting and the scientific analysis that helped to inform the treatment.

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Conservation Research At Dunhuang:The Pivotal Role Of Cave 260 For Conservation Education And Policy – Sharon Cather, Xudong Wang, Bomin Su, Stephen Rickerby, Lisa Shekede and Xiaowei Wang, IIC 2014 Hong Kong Congress Preprints

New Approaches To Conserving The Wall Painting Heritage In Bhutan – Stephen Rickerby, Lisa Shekede, Dorjee Tshering, Tshewang Gyalpo and David Park, IIC 2014 Hong Kong Congress Preprints

Vast and Dispersed: Developing Portable Facilities for Non-Invasive Analysis and Recording of Heritage Sites in China – Bomin Su, Zongren Yu and Sharon Cather, IIC 2014 Hong Kong Congress Preprints

Past events

Buddhist Art Forum

11 – 14 April 2012, Conference
The Courtauld Institute of Art
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Buddhist Art and its Conservation

3 – 4 May 2013, conference
The Courtauld Institute of Art and V&A


Moving Buddha: Imagining Sculpture in China

Friday 8 November 2013, Lecture
18.00-19.00, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art
Speaker: Professor Stanley Abe, Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Duke University


Amaravati, The Art of an Early Buddhist Monument in Context

5 – 6 September 2014
The Courtauld Institute of Art and British Museum


The Invisible Secrets of Tibetan Thangkas

Thursday 30 October 2014, Lecture
18.00-19.00, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art
Speaker: Claudio Seccaroni, Cultural Heritage Section of the National Agency for New Technologies [ENEA], Italy


Buddhist Art in Bhutan: A Distinctive Iconography

Thursday 29 January 2015, Lecture
18.00-19.00, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art
Speaker: Dr Françoise Pommaret, CRCAO/CNRS, Paris, & Adjunct Professor, ILCS, Royal University of Bhutan


Composer’s Talk: Quintessence – A Musical Depiction of Spritiual Journey

Sunday 22 February 2015, Lecture
18.00-19.00, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Insitute of Art
Speaker: Fung Lam, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Composer-in-Residence
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