Staco: Art Conservators Protecting Athenian Murals

stacoColorful graffiti murals impart some life to Athens’s bleak city center. And yet, like any other work of art, these impressive paintings are under daily threat from the elements and vandalizers. This is where the Greek conservation team Staco comes in.

The group’s name comes from the initials STreet Art COnservators. Its members tend to be students, alumni, and professors of the Technological Educational Institute of Athens’s Department of Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art.

According to Maria Chatzidakis, a lecturer at the Technological Education Institute, or TEI, Staco was formed two years ago. Chatzidakis encouraged her students to do something creative and beneficial to their city. Someone suggested finding and preserving Athenian murals ravaged by time and weather. Under Chatzidakis’s guidance, the team has already preserved 45 works of street art.

“The way we intervene varies, depending on their genre,” says Chatzidakis. The team chooses its particular projects by the social and political message of the work, as well as its aesthetic value. They tend to focus on graffiti that embellishes the Greek capital in a positive, beautifying way.

But there are financial obstacles to their work. Staco is self-funded. Its equipment is generally old, coming from the laboratories of the Department of Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art. Chatzidakis herself covers any shortages, but she hopes that the Greek state will step in to aid her group financially. “We have contacted the Athens municipality and specifically the Department of Sculptures and Monuments and we hope [to work] in collaboration,” she said.