Maintaining the Touchstones

These marble stones, hewn from the same ancient marble from which Michelangelo sculpted David, were designed by sculptor Kan Yasuda to be both visual and sensual. Yasuda wanted people to touch them, but their interactive nature unfortunately provides an opportunity for vandalism. Their placement in The Piazza in Philip Street also makes their surface prone to deterioration from traffic and environmental pollution.

When skateboarders scratched their initials into the marble’s grimey surface in 2002, we proposed a plan to restore and then maintain the Touchstones.

To restore the Stones, we contacted the Artist in Italy and discussed with him in detail what processes he had used to achieve the finish on the Stones. This was crucial to our restoring the marble to its original state. He also recommended particular cleaning and sealing products, which we followed very carefully. We worked with a small team of masonary artists over a period of four days to remove all the damage from the surface of the marble and re-seal them.

Once the Touchstones were clean and sealed, we began a maintenance program whereby once a fortnight, the sculptures are washed to remove traffic grime, bird excrement and oily marks. Fourteen years on, this work is still carried out at weekends (or occasional early mornings) to avoid disruption to tenants and workers.

Every three years, we remove any minor scratches or marks and re-seal the entire surface. If any serious damage occurs, we endeavour to be on site within the hour to prevent any permanent affect.