Qrendi Statues

Situated in the southeast of Malta, the village of Qrendi is populated by 2,527 people. The village was first historically mentioned in 1417, when it appeared in a militia list and was described as having 26 ‘households’. Qrendi has seven churches and chapels, such as the main Parish Church and St. Matthew’s Church. Most of these churches were constructed on the site of earlier churches or chapels. Adorning the streets and piazzas of Qrendi one find several statues, five of which are going to be restored by the Directorate. During a preliminary visit it was observed that the general condition of the statues is fair and as such, they require minimal conservation interventions as well as general overall maintenance works.

It has been observed that all of the statues (except for that of il-Madonna tal-Hniena which is rendered and has continued to be maintained over time) are exhibiting biological growth on the horizontal surfaces especially the top most parts where deposits have collected over time. These deposits or growths are associated with chromatic alterations as well as stone deterioration. Additionally, the statue of Santu Rokku is also subjected to the growth of vegetation. This is couples with the opening up of the mortar joints which in turn lead to increased water ingress into the statue and subsequent decay. The pedestals of the statues of Santa Marija and Santu Rokku and the entire statues of Sant’Anna and il-Madonna tal-Hniena are covered with a polychrome paint layer. This is peeling in localized areas and in the case of the statues of Sant’Anna, this peeling reveals severe cement rendering underneath. Furthermore, this statue is also exhibiting powdering. The presence of cement in these statues is detrimental to the condition of the stone due to its harder physical properties and its soluble salt content. Localized hacking and mechanical damage is present of the statue of Santu Rokku. The state of San Mattew which is the only one void of any render is also displaying alveolar weathering as well as pitting. The statues also have carious superfluous accretions which have accumulated overtime. These include metal inserts which cause staining as well as cracking of the stone when the metal corrodes. Two of the statues have also missing fabric; part of the angel’s wing is missing in the statue of San Mattew and a finger is also missing from Our Lady in the statue of il-Madonna tal-Hniena.

Works are to commence with the manual removal of all superfluous accretions and inserts. This is to be followed by manual dry brushing using nylon/vegetable fibre brushes which will remove any unsound render as well as any powdering that may be present on the surface of the stone. Incompatible cement repairs and renders will then be assessed upon close inspection and as far as possible these will be removed using chisels and hammers without damaging the underlying stone. In cases where cement removal proves to compromise the integrity of the underlying stone, then desalinating poultices will be considered.

The stone statues will then be reassessed for possible repairs/replacements using plastic repair techniques based on hydraulic lime or else using new stone and piecing these in with carbon fibre dowels. All open joints will then be pointed using a hydraulic lime based mortar. Cleaning with wet brushing using demonized water will then follow with poultices being applied to any remaining stubborn stains. A Velatura will be applied to all exposed stonework which a lime based paint will be applied to rendered areas. All current finishes are to be retained.​