London Chiswick Vihara Gilding Project
Pandula Ranatunga - 12 November2017
When Bhuminda spoke to me about wanting to do something special for the Vihara on Ananda College Founders Day, I spoke to Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala, the Head monk and what he said was that his wish was to re-gild the statues in the shrine room. Bhuminda also spoke to the Head monk but initially the Head monk thought we could order the gold leaf and apply it ourselves and just repair the damaged areas but this was not so easy as it needed a professional touch. Specially the colour of the gold had faded with time and the fresh gold colour was not easy to match the present one. The original statues had been given to the temple by a Thai student of the then Head monk, Most Ven. Medagama Vajiragnana, in memory of her parents in 2001. So the statues had been close to 17years old and needed re-gilding badly.
We also contacted Amaravathi as they had theirs done recently but it would have taken a month and gold had to be ordered from Thailand. After discussing the options open to us for the project with the Head monk we decided to show this to an expert and get a recommendation about what the job entailed.
First we found a gilder, Mr. Philip Joyce who was based in Devon but unfortunately due to accommodation issues he was not able to do it. But Philip recommended Mr. Christopher Ginn, a gilder based in London and we decided to give the work to Christopher. Christopher has been a gilder since the age of 15. Eventually the work was carried out by Christopher Ginn assisted by his wife Jenny and son Colin. The work undertaken was as follows:
To clean off any dirt and varnish residue.
To prepare and apply oil size to main Buddha statue and the two disciples statues.
To re-gild statues in Ducate Double thick 23 carrot gold leaf.
Christopher, his wife and son took a week to finish the work and he will be revisiting in two weeks again to check, retouch and polish any areas that need to be done. He was also kind enough to clean and restore the plinth that the statues rest on without any charge. The gold that was previously used was 22 carat but this time 23 carat was used and was imported from Germany.
The total cost of re-gilding the three statues was £3000 which include all labour, gold leaf and all other materials. Apart from the thousand pounds from the members of Ananda OBA (UK) the rest came from the dayakas, friends and supporters of the London Buddhist Vihara.
Bhuminda wanted the work to be done before Ananda Founders Day so we were quite lucky to get this finished in time for the Ananda Founders Day Dana. So all went well and the Head monk was quite happy with the standard of the work.