Consultant arrives to help with Parliament ceiling works

Stabroek News
November 21, 2002

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David Flaharty, a consultant and tradesman in the field of preservation of historic ornamental plaster, is in Guyana to advise on the removal, storage and replacement of the plaster-of-paris ceiling of the Parliament Chamber.

This is according to a release from Parliament Office signed by Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs.

The Italianate plaster ceiling, designed by Maltese architect Cesar Castellani in the late 19th century, is being removed because the beams above it are rotten.

No maintenance has ever been done to the roof since its construction and repairs are long overdue, Isaacs told the Sunday Stabroek recently. Isaacs said the beams are old and rotten and it was necessary that they be changed. He added that owing to the poor condition of the roof, it was impossible for contractors to work from the outside. The beams would have to be accessed from inside the chambers via the ceiling.

Board member of the National Trust of Guyana, architect Orin Hinds, had told Stabroek News that he had been approached by the Parliament Office two years ago to look at the ceiling and had made some recommendations. He said at that time he was of the view that the exercise could have been undertaken because only parts of the roof needed to be replaced and the whole ceiling would not have been affected.

The Guy-America Furniture Factory at Parika has been identified to produce all of the ornamental work which may be damaged during the repairs to the ceiling and Isaacs has meanwhile been assured by Flaharty that Guy-America has the moulds and other equipment to produce the ornaments, the release from the Parliament Office said.

Works on the restoration of the chamber, being carried out by Aubrey Jones and Associates, are expected to be completed by February.

While here Flaharty is expected to work with Walter Willis, civil engineer and technical advisor in the Ministry Of Public Works and Communications; Orin Hinds in his capacity as a representative of the National Trust of Guyana; and Noel James, a civil engineer and consultant to the Parliament Office on the chamber restoration project, the release said. He is scheduled to conclude his visit, which was arranged by the National Trust of Guyana and the Smithsonian Institute of the USA tomorrow.

Flaharty, who holds a Master of Fine Arts and a Master of Science degree, has among his architectural commissions and conservations: the White House, the United States Department of State, the United States Department of the Interior, the United States Capitol, the Hotel Letellier in Paris, the New Jersey State House Capitol, Demosthenian Hall (The University of Georgia, Athens) and the New York Public Library, the release said. It added that he has over 40 years of experience in the art of plaster restoration and conservation.

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