G.A. Hickman Building—Maurice Savoie Mosaic

St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

Maurice Savoie was an artist from Quebec, Canada who worked in a number of types of ceramic arts from table-scaled and functional objects to large-scaled architectural works. This large-scaled creation at the G.A. Hickman building at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s consists of 12 concrete panels which interpret the ceramic style through the use of colored gravel, pigments and stone or ceramic elements set into the face of the toned concrete sculptural facade. Abstracted forms representing the flora and fauna of Newfoundland are created in raised relief or incised decoration running across the face of the 1,200 SF mural.

The mural had not received maintenance since its installation in the 1960’s. Water infiltration caused the ferrous rebar to rust, which spalled off sections of the facing concrete, creating a life/safety concern. The initial engineering study recommended removal of the mural panel system.

EverGreene conservators reviewed the conditions and initial study to analyze the feasibility of restoring the mural. Our conservators found that material failure was localized and did not extend into the depth of the structural reinforcing. Our treatment plan included removal/stabilization of detached fragments, cleaning lichen and soiling off the surface, injecting cracks and voids with grout, reconstructing losses using color-matched mortar with embedded gravel and pigments as needed, and replacing all caulk. Once the panels were repaired, the mural was treated with a migrating corrosion inhibitor/water repellent. The project succeeded in saving this mid-century concrete mural and iconic work of art for the University and the artist.