By Harriet Sylvester
On Saturday 14th May 2016, West Dean College ceramic students and staff alongside professional conservators grouped together in Brighton for the day for Icon's Ceramics and Glass Group AGM.
The day consisted of two inspiring and insightful events. Firstly, the group visited Sarah Peek's conservation studio. Sarah is a specialist in the conservation of ceramic, glass and enamel. She runs an extremely efficient studio, fitted out with all the necessary equipment and materials for work on a variety of objects for the private sector. As a student, it was interesting to listen to Sarah's speech about how she set up her own studio from construction to establishing a business and to hear about her career progression and success. It was a very educational talk providing advice, especially as I personally intend to establish my own career in the private sector and to aim for Icon's Accredited Conservator-Restorer (ACR) status in the future.
After visiting Sarah Peek's studio and having lunch, the Ceramics and Glass group AGM was held. The chair, Rachel Sharples, gave a summary of past successful events including last year's meeting at Worcester and the recent colour filling workshop.
The second event of the day, during the afternoon, was a visit to Brighton's Museum & Art Gallery to meet with Stella Beddoe, Keeper Emeritus of Decorative Art, who gave us a tour of the Henry Willet Collection. Henry Willet was an avid collector of pottery and porcelain, which can be seen on display within the museum. The ceramics collected date from the 16th century, with the majority from the 18th and 19th centuries. These are assembled in groups and categories in which Willet assembled them, including "Royalty and Loyalty" and "Naval Heroes". After the tour, we were given a glimpse of the store, where the rest of the collection is held, and on to purchase Stella Beddoe's book A Potted History: Henry Willett's Ceramic Chronicle of Britain.
The day ended with an Italian restaurant dinner, where Ronald Pile, the Nigel Williams Prize Coordinator, announced the winner. I personally applied for the student prize, for my work on the Chinese Export Porcelain Blue and White 'Soldier' Vase and Lid, from the Kangxi Period (a description of the treatment can be read on this blog---part I here and part II here), though I was unsuccessful as a student prize was not awarded this year. I was, however, acknowledged for my work and awarded with a ceramic egg cup decorated with scenes of Brighton!
After rushing to catch a train back to college with my signed copy of A Potted History in hand, there was plenty of time to reflect on the day's activities as we stopped at the many stations on the way back to Chichester. I look forward to the next ICON Ceramics and Glass group meeting…