James Licari

James Licari B. Cons. (Hons.) attained the Bachelor degree in Conservation and Restoration with Honours from the Institute for Conservation and Restoration Studies, University of Malta. He is one of the first Maltese graduates to offer professional documentation, preservation, conservation-restoration, and maintenance services fulfilling the requirements laid out by international standards. His areas of specialisation are ceramics, glass, metals, stone and other composite materials (2003). He has work experience locally and internationally in the field of conservation and restoration of cultural heritage and offers a professional and efficient service in conservation/restoration, education and promotion of our cultural property.


He attended a seminar on the setting up scaffolding for heritage buildings at the Malta Centre for Restoration. He benefited from partaking in various conservation related projects in Malta, Celano Paludi (Abruzzo, Italy), Fossa Casale (Abruzzo, Italy)[September 2001 & July 2000], and Pompeii (Naples, Italy)[September 2003]. He co-ordinated an eight sessioned course on “The composition, deterioration and care of our cultural property/art”, for the general public (of which he presented two lectures) at AZAD in Valletta (February-April 2006). He lectured History of Art students at AZAD, Valletta (November 2004) and voluntarily lecturing in the IKONOS programme for the Preparatory Course at the Malta Centre for Restoration via video-conferencing to students in countries like Jordan, Greece, Morocco, Algeria and Malta (June-July 2003).


Once graduated he immediately embarked on the conservation project of the Church of the Assumption, Balzan. This project was mainly co-ordinated by him, with collaboration of two of his colleagues, who graduated in the same year. Following the completion of this ambitious project in three months, he went on to forming the conservation and restoration co-operative society, registered under the name of ReCoop (operating since 2003). Once founded he was elected President of the society. The following year he took on the position of Vice-president of the society, due to ill health that year. Over the current year he has served as marketing manager for ReCoop, in order as to promote the conservation-restoration interventions undertaken. Due to personal ethical reasons as well as advancement of the profession, Mr Licari resigned from the co-operative society (May 2006). He is currently initiating a new Conservation and Restoration Company, named Heritage-Resco.


He also formed part of the three members who initiated the Malta Association of Professional Conservator-Restorers and also forms part of the founding committee of management. The innovation of such a professional association lies in the ability to perform holistically as a group of dedicated professional conservator-restorers who graduated in different areas of specialisation, for the good of cultural heritage.


Throughout the past seven years he worked on various prestigious artefacts belonging to various museums, which included:

Ongoing supervision of the maintenance and restoration works being carried out on the marble paving in The Grandmaster’s Palace Valletta (June 2006-…)

The conservation-restoration of some chandeliers in San Anton Palace, Balzan (July 2006)

Ongoing supervision of various maintenance and restoration works in St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta (2005-2006)

Supervision of the conservation of the façade of St Dorothy’s convent in Mdina (Jan 2005-Feb 2006)

Conservation projects for CHOGM 2005 [eight marble lapidae in the entrance of the Grandmaster’s Palace, a crystal chandelier in the same palace as well as four marble busts and a Sciortino sculpture in Auberge de Castille] (Nov 2005)

The conservation of bronze statue on ‘the witch of Agnesi’ belonging to the UK Government Art Collection (Nov 2005)

The bronze and stone war memorial (Christ the King and four panels) in Victoria, Gozo (Oct 2005)

The unique bronze door of the Naxxar Parish Church (May-Aug 2005)

Metal, stone and composite artefacts from the Palazzo Falson (Norman House) collection Mdina (2004-2005)

Conservation of ceramic, glass, bronze, iron, bone, stone and marble artefacts from the Roman Domus Museum collection, Rabat (Oct 2003-Jan 2004)

Conservation of stonework of exterior and interior of the Church of the Assumption, Balzan (July-Sept 2003)

Conservation of marble and plaster of Paris in the Fine Arts Museum, Valletta (Dec 2002 – Mar 2003)

Conservation of marble statue of Leah, [Early 20th century] in the Fine Arts Museum, Valletta (February – March 2002)

Ceramic, glass, metal, stone artefacts from Tas-Silg, Marsaxlokk, (Dec 1999 – May 2002)

Conservation of limestone statue from Salvatur Church, Kalkara (Nov–Dec 2001)

Conservation of lead eagles Eagle Fountains, St. George’s Square, Valletta (April – Oct 2001).

He also worked on a supervision agreement for Heritage Malta over the conservators of the Malta Centre for Restoration, within the Armoury (2004) as well as assessed and conserved some artefacts for a travelling exhibition (‘Crusades’) under the direction of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.


This long list of experience is increasing and building a very substantial holistic portfolio. He is further available to help out other N.G.O.s, local councils, parishes and private collectors to help conserve our cultural heritage. The conservator-restorer works constantly with an interdisciplinary approach to promote conservation-restoration culture and to perform conservation-restoration interventions, which are aimed at a better safekeeping of Cultural Heritage (especially Maltese) for future generations. His particular interest lies in spreading awareness of the importance of Cultural Heritage as part of Maltese culture and identity, an issue that he supports with responsibility, initiative and dedication.



Ingrid Ross


Ingrid Ross obtained an Honours degree in Pharmacy and a Masters in Science from the University of Malta. Willing to diversify in her knowledge of science, she also read for a Bachelor degree in Conservation and Restoration with Honours from the Institute for Conservation and Restoration Studies, University of Malta. Her areas of specialisation are ceramics, glass, metals, stone and other composite materials. She has work experience locally in a variety of materials including archaeological and historic objects as well as wall mosaics on buildings. A work placement in Mochlos, Crete enhanced her knowledge in the conservation of archaeological materials.


The following are examples of work conducted on some objects during the study period at the Institute for Conservation and Restoration Studies, University of Malta. The medley of projects presented, highlights the rationale of conservation treatment according to international accepted standards.


Work on dissertation in partial fulfilment for the degree in conservation (Hons).
The title of the dissertation was “ The mosaic decoration at the nymphaeum, Argotti gardens: Condition Assessment and Conservation Strategy”.


The nymphaeum at Argotti Gardens, Floriana is a small domed structure with a mosaic decoration of seashells, calcite crystals coral and pebbles on its inner walls. The mosaic in this historic building is severely deteriorated when compared to a contemporary building with the same decorative elements. The aims of the study were to determine whether the deterioration is still active, establish possible reasons for the deterioration, and suggest treatment options.


Comparative mapping of the surviving mosaic in the central over a 45-years gap indicated that a large amount of mosaic was lost. Mapping the existing mosaic and deterioration phenomena over four seasons 2005/2006 confirmed that the deterioration was still active with damage occurring in the cupola in springtime (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

To have a better understanding of the mosaic and its support, the manufacturing techniques and material analysis of the building, mortars and mosaic elements were investigated. Information from documented and observed past interventions and modifications indicated that some part interventions might have contributed to the current bad state of preservation while other interventions may have caused a positive or an ambivalent effect. Salt analysis of efflorescences using Microscopy and XRD confirmed the presence of halite. IC analysis of incremental-depth micro drilling samples confirmed that chlorides were the most abundant anions. Environmental monitoring of this site indicated that the building moderately dampens external RH and T fluctuations. The average internal RH of 70% indicates that halite (EQRH 75%) is most likely to crystallize and be the main cause of damage. Active conservation treatments are suggested on the basis of these observations.


‘First-Aid’ Treatment on the Argotte coat of Arms
Since part of the Argotte coat of arms at the nymphaeum, Argotti gardens, had collapsed, immediate treatment was required to fill in and consolidate the detached gap between the supporting wall and mosaic. Gauze bandage was used to support the remaining decoration and a lightweight filler had to be used to bridge the gap to ensure the least possible addition of weight to the problem area since the detached area was hanging against gravity.


The Sagra Famglia – Statues in globigerina limestone at Addolorata Cemetery
The intervention included dry brushing to remove loose dirt and removal of paint residues. Traces of black crust were also removed mechanically. Biological growths were removed using a variety of methods. All these superficial deposits are considered to cause further damage to the object so if they can be removed without causing further damage to the stone this procedure is carried out.Existing weak mortar joins were opened in preparation for the new mortar to be applied. A limewash solution was prepared and applied by brush to the statues and base. This limewash was applied to act as a sacrificial layer for salt activity in preference to the limestone.


Conservation treatment of a bronze bust
This project involved mechanical cleaning of the bust using scalpels, micro drills and descalers after characterisation of the corrosion layers. Bezotriazole (BTA) was used for stabilisation, and microcrystalline wax was used as a protection coating for the conservation treatment of the bronze bust.


Documentation of Buildings
This project was carried out in collaboration with architects and a team of documentation professionals. Decay mechanisms of the external façades were mapped block by block. This information was then forwarded to the documentation division to convert to ACAD drawings. A general deterioration pattern was observed in that the lower storeys had the largest amount of deterioration mainly in terms of spalling, alveolar damage, and erosion/back weathering. The reasons for these are varied but the most important factor in enhancing this deterioration process is the effect of rising damp, coupled with the effect of salts.


Condition assessment and conservation of Roman mosaics
The work on mosaics in the Domus Romana involved both the mosaic floors in situ as well as the conservation and interpretation of the detached mosaics (emblemata).

Documentation of the in-situ mosaics started with a general plan describing the site. Both photographic and graphic documentation was carried out describing the general deterioration patterns. Previous interventions included an old restoration of having lacunae filled in with hexagonal terracotta lozenges. These were also of historic interest and were left in situ.

Cleaning of the surfaces was carried out using dry brushes, and anionic detergents with weak biocides.

The adherence of tesserae to the underlying layers and the compactness of the foundation mortars was assessed. Substitution of missing or damaged tesserae, where necessary, was carried out. This was especially important in areas where the tesserae were detached. A lime-based mortar was used to attach them.

The emblemata experienced areas of loss, infills and general deteriorated areas. In the border areas, a significant amount of original tesserae were covered with a mortar, so mechanical cleaning using a scalpel exposed the original tesserae, many of which were eroded below the original mosaic surface.

Consolidation was carried out when necessary and the addition of some new plaster was carried out in areas where the previous plaster was very uneven or porous.


Conservation laboratory – Mohlos, Crete.
This work experience provided hands on experience on large scale ceramics, such as burial-vessels (larnax), ceramic slip-ware of various periods and bronze objects from the ongoing excavation.