Press release: HO-HO-WHOLE AGAIN

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation help mend prized Santa from Nursing home

Students in the Ceramics Conservation department at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation learn to conserve a wide range of objects from Chinese ceramics to Saxon glass, but it was difficult to say no when the family of a former College staff member, now in a nursing home, came to the College with a broken Father Christmas owned by a fellow resident.

Lorna Calcutt, Ceramics Programme Leader, takes up the story: "Restoring ceramics like the Father Christmas is not a normal project for us, but he has such sentimental value to the resident of the nursing home, we were more than happy to help!"

Andriani Maimaridou, a student on the Graduate Diploma Conservation of Ceramics programme, has carried out the work. She said: "Conserving Father Christmas has had its challenges as it is a very delicate object to handle and a difficult material to conserve due to its surfaces being sensitive to several conservation materials. However, it was a conservation challenge we were happy to undertake as it's a valued seasonal object and we knew we had a tight deadline to meet!"

"The object is slip cast porcelain with bright coloured, matte surfaces and we had to test a range of materials and techniques away from the object before deciding on the best course of action. We bonded in two sections, the main body sherds first and then attached the foot, being very aware of the paper label and protecting this from our adhesive. Nice tight joins were achieved, we filled small areas of loss then retouched the fills to match colour and texture."

The Father Christmas will return to the nursing home, on Monday, December 17, 2018, in time for Christmas.

Andriani and fellow students on the Graduate Diploma programme have been learning basic treatments in their first term while being introduced to a diverse range of objects, and will undertake progressively more complex conservation projects.

Students on the programme come from a diverse range of backgrounds and typically studied an unrelated subject at undergraduate level, so the Graduate Diploma is a transition into conservation. Students develop excellent practical skills, study ceramic technology, material culture and materials science, and work on artefacts from public and private collections.

Notes to Editors:

  • West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the 'the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century'.
  • The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio.
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.

For all media enquiries please contact:
Rachel Aked
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 07790 732448