To varnish is to encapsulate, to preserve the surface in its final state. Last week I was presented with very weathered garden furniture in great need of restoration. Beneath the thick, grey surface I realised, lay a pristine teak waiting to be revealed. Like an archaeologist, I sanded back in time until more and more of the youthful golden tan came through. Three coats of Ronseal Yacht Varnish eventually hardened - like amber over the surface, preserving the golden glow from the caustic effects of weather.
There is something noble and ancient in varnishing. Something that painting doesn't offer. I am reminded of the Venetian gondolas and the many layers of skilled brushwork that go into their glassy surface. Varnishing dictates a certain meditative approach. As you work up the layers you are called to work slower. Each layer needs more time than the last.