With experience restoring cathedrals in Europe and Australia, stonemason Christian Frenzel’s specialist skills are in high demand. But he worries about who will look after these centuries-old buildings in the future. Source: The Southern Cross.
Born in East Germany, Mr Frenzel undertook his apprenticeship as a stonemason and stone carver in his home country, specialising in the restoration of churches such as the “beautiful” Dresden cathedral, Frauenkirche.
Now based in the Barossa Valley, he has worked on some of Adelaide’s oldest landmarks including the Adelaide Gaol, but it is the restoration of churches and cathedrals – mainly Catholic – that really touches his heart.
As the only specialised cathedral stonemason in Australia, the 41-year-old worries about who will follow in his footsteps and continue this much-needed work.
“The neglect of cathedrals is concerning and the heartbreak is knowing that we don’t train the necessary people and the interest from the younger generation isn’t there to learn these artisan trades,” he said.
“I would love to pass my skills on to a younger person. I try to do as much as I can and educate people about what is involved, to get an interest in it … but I understand the world has changed and there are technological advancements.”
“You have to be interested in history. I’m very much for technology, it has its place, but it’s also the understanding of what you are working with.
“For me it’s always about what is best for the structure of the building, because the client won’t necessarily be there in a hundred years, but the building will be and my name will be on that.”
As for St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral in Adelaide, Mr Frenzel said while it is not as old as the ones he has worked on in Europe, maintaining it in a good condition was vital for future generations to enjoy.
Stonemason laments future of his craft (By Lindy McNamara, The Southern Cross)