Review: West Dean College end of year show – 11th July 2013

Joanna Blackburn, Conservator, British Library

This summer I was lucky enough to travel down to West Dean College to see the final projects of the conservation students there. It was a real treat, not only to meet a new bunch of conservators-in-training, but also to get out of the sweltering heat of London and into the beautiful Sussex countryside!

IMG_2250We gathered in the downstairs studio and were served Pimm’s and crisps, and then made our way up (without food or drink!) to meet the students and see their work. The conserved objects and written projects were all laid out on each of the students’ benches, while the students themselves stood by their work and welcomed each visitor as they came past.

There was a mixture of final year MA students, looking towards their future working lives, and those who have finished the Graduate Diploma. The latter were either going straight onto the MA or taking a bit of time out to gain experience. This was a great opportunity to discuss the different aspirations of individuals at various stages of their careers. Each student I spoke to seemed to have a real focus and wanted to carry on in conservation, or closely related fields, so it was a great success for the College.

We were then treated to an impromptu and very interesting presentation of scientific analysis equipment owned by the college, by David Dorning, the programme leader. It was impressive to see what a wide range of facilities the college has, and generous of David to take the time to show us.

I am very glad to have had the opportunity to make the trip out of London to meet so many enthusiastic and ambitious conservators-in-the-making. It is very heartening and a great reminder of why conservation is such an exciting field to be working in.

Well done West Dean students, and best of luck for the future!

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