A route for development and growth to become a professional textile conservator
While studying for a BA (Hons) in Conservation and Restoration at the University of Lincoln I knew that I wanted to specialise in the conservation of textiles. As I continued my education to Masters Level I concentrated my studies and work placements in textile conservation, gaining as much experience as possible.
When I saw the position advertised for the National Trust Textile Conservation Levy Intern, I knew I had to jump at the chance! The post was for a two year paid internship with the offer of a third year (if the initial two were successfully completed). I joined the team in September 2010 and since then haven’t looked back.
The internship has provided me with a fantastic chance to develop my technical conservation skills, knowledge and ability to produce professional documentation (i.e. estimates, condition reports, treatment records and surveys). Over the duration of my internship I have worked on a huge array of projects, not just with colleagues in the studio but with private conservators and onsite at National Trust properties up and down the country.
What follows are examples of just a few of the many projects and experiences I have had the privilege to undertake and be part of.
Dye training-Dyeing wool material for use as patches within the conservation of the Gideon Tapestry.
Erddig Caffoy Day Bed Squab- Cleaning, conservation and reconstruction
Knole James II Bed- Deconstruction and solvent treatment of one of the silk valances during conservation of the state bed.
Producing an Adhesive film on silk crepeline. Used to consolidate the silk curtains from the James II Bed, Knole.
Claydon Doublet- Conservation and mounting of the doublet ready for exhibition
The internship isn’t just about practical conservation but preventive conservation too. Pest management and environmental control becomes the responsibility of the intern, monitoring and maintaining the environment within the studio.
Training, visits and networking are also encouraged. During the internship I have attended many internal and external conferences and training courses as well as undertaking a one week work placement within a National Trust property.
Calke Abbey- One Week Work Placement. Working alongside conservation assistants and volunteers to undertake daily conservation cleaning within the property.
Throughout I have had to maintain full records of the work undertaken and keep a day book documenting the many new skills and techniques I have learnt. At the end of each year I have compiled a portfolio to demonstrate the quality and variety of work I have undertaken.
Being part of a large team of very experienced conservators’ has meant I have been supervised and supported every step of the way. At the end of three years at the studio I am now recognised as a salaried Assistant Conservator. Not only has the internship developed my skills to a high professional level but it has also had a huge effect on my own confidence.