What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
Difficult to identify a single instance but my biggest achievements include: my overall involvement with the conservation of the three National collections of Welsh ceramics, my involvement in the redevelopment of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Swansea, achievement of Accredited status in 2000, and the recognition I received when awarded the Nigel Williams Prize for Ceramic Conservation in 2014.
Talk us through your career path since graduating.
After attending West Dean, I became a freelance Conservator in 1982. During the last 40 years I have undertaken numerous commissions for the antiques trade, private individuals, private and public sector bodies of varying sizes and in a range of locations. These have included conservation, restoration, condition survey/care audits, documentation and curatorial services. I have also used my extensive knowledge to provide advice and guidance to a number of organisations in respect of funding applications and purchase decisions. While the majority of my work is to ceramics and glass, I also have experience of assessing and working on materials such as: enamels, lacquer wares, bone, ivory, marble, alabaster, Boulle, paintings on glass, cold painted bronzes.
I place great value on the development of others and since 1986 have been involved in the ceramics module on the BSc & MSc courses in Archaeological Conservation at University of Wales, Cardiff giving lectures and demonstrations, and being involved in discussions/forums. Over the years I have been, and continue to be, a mentor to a number of students and qualified conservators, helping them enables me to pass my knowledge and experience on. I have regularly attended and given talks at the “Conservation Matters in Wales”, and “Ceramic and Glass Conservation Group” forums. I have also spoken to groups such as Probus, U3A, and various “Friends” groups about my work which affords me an opportunity to raise the profile of conservation and explain the ethical considerations, and thought processes involved to the wider public.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am now retiring and have completed my previous projects.
Do you have any tips for recent graduates?
Keep learning and acquiring new skills, these can be self-initiated and not just those provided by institutions. Background reading is always useful, approaches change so keep up with those, but understanding of what went before and why, will often enlighten- you haven’t necessarily got to agree with them, but it will give you a more rounded perspective. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be prepared to work hard, learn about what you are working on, and above all keep a sense of humour- you are going to need it!
How do you think studying at West Dean College prepared you for what you do now?
The study and West Dean gave me the basic skills, and understanding of what was required, but it is only the start...
What's your favourite memory from your time at the College?
Having spent a pleasant evening in the bar I was returning to my room in the Dower House via the Churchyard, when I was surprised and somewhat puzzled to see hundreds of little greenish fluorescent lights on the path, in the trees and undergrowth. Puzzled, and a little worried, and thinking “Well I've only had a couple”, I was relieved when I got to my room and found my roommate with a jam jar full of Glow Worms which he was reading by!
Did you receive any form of funding to study at West Dean?
I received a discretionary grant from the South Glamorgan (as it was then) Education Authority. The grant only covered my fees, everything else I had to find myself.
Did you have a different career before coming to West Dean? If so, why did you change career paths?
I had always wanted to work in conservation, but didn’t know how to get into it. In the 70’s, the careers services didn’t seem to have as broad an outlook as they do now. I had a series of temporary jobs with local authorities after leaving school, and, during one of my “lay-offs” I decided to get on the phone and do some investigation of my own. It was during a conversation with staff at the V&A that I heard about a new course in Ceramic Restoration that was starting at West Dean. I researched how I might fund my attendance and I was then part of the first intake for that course in 1980.
MOST RECENT MAJOR PROJECTS:
JANUARY& FEBRUARY 2020
NOVEMBER 2019-JANUARY2020 Aberystwyth Arts Centre
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019 Welsh Museum of Natural History, St Fagans
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019 Plas Newydd, Llangollen
SEPTEMBER 2019 Packwood House
JUNE 2019 Private Individual
MARCH 2019 National Museum Wales
JANUARY 2019- JANUARY 2020 Parc Howard Collections
SEPTEMBER- NOVEMBER 2018
NOVEMBER 2018 Barrington Court, Somerset
OCTOBER 2018 Castle Drogo, Devon
AUGUST 2018 Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
JULY 2018 Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
MAY – JULY 2018 Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
APRIL 2017 Parc Howard, Llanelli
REDEVELOPMENT OF THE GLYNN VIVIAN ART GALLERY, SWANSEA: 2006-2016
I have been involved with preparations for and the redevelopment of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea since 2006. Due to the extensive building works planned, it was necessary to pack and remove to safe storage the gallery’s entire collection of some 12,000 art works before work could begin, these all had to be moved back after completion of the majority of the building works.