No smoke without fire - A Survey of Colour Shades at the Ben Gurion House in Tel Aviv
We are currently conducting a survey of color shades at the Ben Gurion House in Tel Aviv as the basis for a conservation process that will be carried out in the interior spaces of the house. The purpose of the survey process is to identify the original interior paint layers in order to learn more about the history of renovations that the modest residence underwent since 1931, when it was built, through various renovations in 1951-1953 and 1960.
As part of the “detective” investigation carried out by Ben Buchenbacher, a layer of paint was discovered that gave off a pungent odor of cigarette smoke. Since David Ben-Gurion stopped smoking in 1940 (keeping a promise to his son Amos) it is clear to us that this layer was painted earlier, and was visible for many years, which allowed the paint to so thoroughly absorb the smell of smoke.
Ben Buchenbacher says of the exciting discovery: "The ‘fragrant’ paint sits above the first layer of paint (which is from the construction of the house in 1931) and under later layers that were behind the beautiful wooden wall coverings. The documentation report says the last major renovation of the house was in 1960. So thanks to the fact that Ben-Gurion promised to stop smoking if his son Amos would stop, I can date the paint layers, as well as when the luxurious wood coverings were added to the walls and get an idea of the actual ‘look’ of the house over the years. The conservation team will be able to pinpoint the color shades so the place can tell its story."
When conserving furniture and wood details, I, too, rely quite a bit on the sense of smell, to identify types of wood and learn about different layers of paint and protective varnishes that have been added to the original wood details over the years.