Norman Manley statue to be renovated
The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) yesterday commenced a $200,000 conservation project of the defaced statue of national hero Norman Washington Manley located at St William Grant Park in Kingston.
The preservation effort followed a story in last Sunday's Gleaner, in which both the JNHT and the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) distanced themselves from criticisms of political mischief over the statue's maintenance.
Two weeks ago, visitors to the park highlighted that the defaced statue of Norman Washington Manley, the first president of the People's National Party (PNP), was in stark contrast to a seemingly freshly painted statue of Sir Alexander Bustamante, the first leader of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
"Both statues were to be painted for the City of Kingston 145th anniversary celebrations. The first project we did was the Bustamante statue, and at the same time we decided that we were going to do this one (Manley)," said Kimberly McLaughlin, director of communication at the JNHT.
"While we were doing that, we realised that somebody came and painted this one. So whatever conservation methods we planned on doing, we could not do it because clearly it complicated the process, and that one had to be postponed."
EXPENSIVE PROCESS TO CLEAN
She explained that the statue is made of bronze and thus required an extensive and expensive process to clean.
According to McLaughlin, the cost to clean the statue shot up special chemicals and cleaning agents used in bronze conservation.
Yesterday, workmen were observed wrapping the statue in paper before spraying chemicals on it.
Evelyn Thompson, conservator at the JNHT, said the process is a very time-consuming one.
"Bronze is a relatively stable material. When it reacts with the atmosphere, it forms a layer that is stabilising in effect, and when somebody paints a bronze monument, it no longer looks like a bronze monument. It becomes very difficult to treat," she said, bemoaning the intricate process of stripping away the paint before the traditional methods of conservation can be carried out.
Last week, Town Clerk Robert Hill said that while the KSAMC has responsibility for the overall maintenance of the park, it was not responsible for the statues.