Project Description

In the summer of 2011, an international group of carpenters, artists, architects and volunteers arrived at the Museum of Folk Architecture in Sanok to re-profile 200 timber stumps and 450 beams, and to turn them into the roof structure of the Gwoździec synagogue. During three two-week meetings, timber was processed with the use of traditional methods and tools. Handshouse Studio, together with Timber Framers Guild and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute were responsible for organising the workshops.

Eight painting workshops were held in the summer months of 2011 and 2012. Their aim was to re-create the polychrome of the Gwoździec synagogue ceiling. In the synagogues of seven Polish cities, international groups of students led by experts and educators from Handshouse Studio worked on re-creating the ceiling’s colorful paintings. They were guided by drawings and paintings made between 1890 and 1913, and by black-and-white photographs made before WW I, immediately prior to the destruction of the synagogue. Students worked on reconstructing the polychrome using traditional methods.

Workshop participants prepared colors using the methods applied by the painters of the Gwoździec over 300 years ago. They measured out pigments, ground them, mixed them with water, added rabbit-skin glue and heated them, before applying colors to the wooden surface.

At the turn of 2012–2013, all the finished elements were transported to the constructed museum building. They were assembled, and now they constitute the centerpiece of the Jewish Town gallery.

The project was completed in the summer of 2013 in Warsaw, with a workshop of painting the Gwoździec synagogue bimah, which had been reconstructed 7 years earlier by the Handshouse Studio and later donated to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews POLIN. The international group of over thirty students spent 12 days working under the guidance of the Handshouse Studio experts and educators. In 2014 the bimah was placed in the Museum, under the reconstructed roof of the synagogue.