In January 2009, I was offered a commission to repair a sculpture by the late Zambian sculptor, Friday Tembo. The piece was carved from African Ironwood timber that had been darkened to look like ebony. Unfortunately, it had been accidentally knocked from a mantelpiece and had broken into several fragments.
Friday Tembo was one of Zambia’s top sculptors, who exhibited internationally. He was a personal friend of the owners and had given them the carving himself. It therefore had great sentimental value, particularly as he had since passed away.
It was a real privilege to be given the opportunity of repairing and restoring this strange, beautiful and interesting work. It represents a shaman in the process of transforming between the shape of a man and that of a fish.
This is how the sculpture was given to me. The small bag holds fragments which had been knocked from the fins.
Below are shown these same breaks after being repaired, retextured and then finished using the original methods that Friday Tembo would have used.
The break shown below had to be reinforced with an internal metal rod to strengthen it.
The repaired sculpture, waiting in a friend’s workshop for collection by the client. The tools give an idea of the size of the piece.