On November 4 2019, conservators around the world participated in Ask a Conservator day. A day that encourages international collaboration and knowledge exchange. Across social media conservators, conservation students, collection teams, archivists and others took part using #AskAConservator.

Tutors and students from our School of Conservation tweeted via the College’s Twitter profile to answer questions and share insights into their experiences in the Conservation sector.

We were joined by Dr Eric Nordgren AFHEA Metals Conservation Subject Leader and Science Liaison, conservation students specialising in Ceramics and Related Materials, and Books and Library Materials Associate Tutor Abigail Bainbridge MA ACR who rounded up our day in the evening.

In case you missed #AskAConservator day, here are a few highlights courtesy of our Social Media Officer:

What skills do you need to be a conservator?

“Inner peace, patience, observation skills, respect for objects and people, communication, reflection, deep thinking, problem solving, attention to detail, good sense of humour.” – Conservation Studies students specialising in Ceramics and Related Materials.

What’s your favourite thing about being a conservator?

“The chance to learn new things about old (and contemporary) materials and help ensure they’ll be around for people to interact with for a long time to come.” – Eric

If a piece gets to you very damaged how do you guys know what to restore exactly?

“You don’t always know, but that’s where experience, collaboration, research and the stakeholders’ views come in to play. They all inform the conservation plan.” – Conservation Studies students specialising in Ceramics and Related Materials.

What’s an object that has been particularly exciting for you to conserve? Were there any specific challenges tied to that object?

“We’ve had so many exciting projects, but a particularly exciting one was reconstructing an archaeological object from 175 pieces” – Andri, MA Conservation Studies student, specialising in Ceramics and Related Materials.

Of the objects you’ve worked on, what had the biggest ewww factor?

“Mosquitos breeding in an outdoor marine artefact storage tank!” - Eric

What disappointed you most of the profession of conservation?

“I think for me it’s that more people don’t know about the field of conservation, how interesting and useful it is.” – Eric

What is the one thing you would love to work on and keep your fingers crossed it might eventually slink its way on to your desk?

“The Antikythera device would be interesting, but there are too many to count!” - Eric

What is the most frustrating part of your work?

“Having a lot of cultural heritage objects to conserve and very limited budgets sometimes!” – Eric

If you didn’t do the thing you do, what would you do instead?

“Textiles, but I love learning about ceramics.” – Sarah, Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies student

“Clocks (Horology)” – Rose, Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies student

“Sujin would want to be an economist!”

“I think I would go for textiles – stained glass a close second but not interested in working in cold churches!” - Abigail

What transferable skills do you think you gain from training as a conservator?

“Ability to communicate with non-specialist audiences / professional code-switching! I am also awesome at fixing my children’s books” – Abigail

“Inner peace” – Rose, Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies student

Interested in developing a career in conservation?

Come along to our Open Day on Saturday 8 February 2020 to find out more about studying Conservation at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. 

Register Now

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