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Custodians of Beauty

© Isabella De Maddalena

Italy is a country with one of the biggest artistic heritages in the world.

Living in such a rich cultural environment and having myself studied Fine Art before I became a photographer, has always made me feel concerned about the cultural and artistic richness I was surrounded by.

I often thought that the restorers, our “Custodians” of that beauty, are usually hidden from view. We don’t know how they work, we don’t know what the conservation process is like, we just assume it is normal that a Piero della Francesca painting or a Giotto fresco is there, and will be there for ever.
So, drawn by the desire to discover that hidden world of art preservation and bring it to light, in 2017, with the support of the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro, I started a photographic project about the art of restoration and the restorers themselves - from the education in the school to their onsite practice. I discovered that not only the restorers are mostly women  (in the proportion of around 9 to 1) but also that very young people (around 21 or 22) start working on important artworks as a normal part of their training.

The questions I asked the students and some senior restorers, were the following: how does all this beauty impacts the way you see the world and how do you interact with it?


My Custodians of Beauty project, is an ‘homage’ to all the restorers, and in particular to the women restorers, who, thanks to their efforts and dedication, keep important art works and cultural artefacts alive.

Beauty, in art as in life, needs to be taken care of, preserved and nurtured, while the skills to keep this practice alive are in a continuous process of development and improvement.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive

Note: We have testimonials from the students to accompany the story.

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