German conservationist’s love for Hue heritages

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Andrea and her co-worker at a Hue relic site 

Andrea Teufel was born and grew up in Potsdam, a former old imperial city just like Hue, and she said she had always dreamt of working in a place full of antiques and paintings. In 2003 the German embassy launched a conservation project on restoration and education in Hue, a world cultural heritage site recognised by UNESCO. Andrea was later to be promoted to project director.

Andreas recalled that she was told about a job in Vietnam and took it immediately as the country sounded more Asian than Thailand , where she had refused a similar offer. Her team’s first assignment was to restore six ancient murals in the An Dinh Palace, which portray royal tombs from the Nguyen Dynasty which lasted from 1802-1945.

Andrea said she was impressed at the astonishing mixture of east and west in these old paintings, as they were covered with thousands of designs and rich in traditional character, while the technology and style came from Europe.

After sending samples to laboratories in Germany, Andrea became totally absorbed in researching the substance used in the process as well as methods of conservation so she could restore the murals to their original state. Working from early in the morning until late at night, the German restorer has trained 15 local painters, whom she recruited, to hand down this technique to so her work can be continued after she leaves the project. Artist Le Phuoc Tan has worked with Andrea Teufel in many projects on Hue conservation.

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Andrea works with Vietnamese conservationists at a relic site in Hue. 

“A German conservationist, Andrea Teufel has a big love for Hue heritages. She decided to expand her stay in Hue to help the city restore and preserve its many precious heritages and to train the younger generations on protecting their homeland’s treasures,” said Tan.

Andrea Teufel bought a small house on Chi Lang road to live. The house has become a popular venue for her students and partners to come and discuss measures to better preserve Hue heritages. She discovered that the painting techniques in Hue were similar to what she was taught in Italy when she was learning about fresco.

Andrea Teufel told VOV “Fresco, meaning “Fresh” in Italian, is a form of painting where earth-based pigments are applied directly to wet lime plaster. The colours are made by grinding up the dry power pigments then mixing them with pure water. After they have dried out and set, they become a permanent part of the wall or ceiling. This style is ideal for painting murals because it is durable and has a matt finish.”

Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Center, said that in the past 15 years, Andrea and her team has successfully restored 5 relics of Hue heritage site. She has also trained a group of 20 experts on heritage conservation who have contributed significantly to preserving the local heritages.

He told VOV “Ms. Teufel has directly trained her Vietnamese students on new knowledge and preservation techniques. Many of her students are now playing a key role in national agencies tasked with restoring national heritages and architectural elements using hard materials with traditional design patterns.”  

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