MA Conservation Studies, Specialising in Metalwork 2012 - 2013

Francis Galarza

Metalwork Conservator

What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
I would not speak of a particular achievement, but of several throughout a long road in which I have been able to acquire different skills that have allowed me to consolidate myself as a metal conservator.

Talk us through your career path since graduating.
After graduating from West Dean I joined a brass casting and metalworking studio in Somerset where I worked for around 3 years. During this time I also led the transfer of a museum's of pre-Columbian art in Quito, Ecuador, to its new storage room within the museum's own facilities. I also worked on the restoration of a pre-Columbian metal collection also in Ecuador. At the end of 2016, I returned to Colombia, where I worked independently on various restoration and conservation projects and in the manufacture of replicas for different museums in Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama, as well as with private collectors.

What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on the conservation and restoration project for the Museum of Religious Art collection in the city of Santa Cruz de Mompox in Colombia. In this project, I am working with around 250 metal objects of ecclesiastical nature, many of which had never been intervened at all. The project also contemplates the creation of a new script and redisplay.

Do you have any tips for recent graduates?
I would say that being curious and continuing to learn new skills alongside keeping up with technological advances are important to expand job possibilities. It is also important to develop essential business skills, project management, budget and negotiation, and how to run your own business.

How do you think studying at West Dean College prepared you for what you do now?
At West Dean I certainly gained the skills and knowledge specific to conservation practices that I did not have and possibly could not have acquired anywhere else. This knowledge and tools have given me the confidence to face any challenge in conservation.

What's your favourite memory from your time at the College?
Being part of West Dean becomes an experience of a lifetime, leaving countless good memories. It is a beautiful and inspiring place. Time flies fast in the workshops, as well as in the library with selected texts that arouse your curiosity, its beautiful gardens that look like postcards and its wonderful people. My best memory was my first day; that moment when you walk into the school and realize that you have a great opportunity in your hands.

Did you receive any form of funding to study at West Dean?
I was awarded a scholarship by the Edward James Foundation.