Icon Scotland (ISG) organized an event this March to bring together students and emerging professionals while learning about conservation at Edinburgh Castle. The event, subsidised by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), allowed for students to explore Scotland’s heritage while gaining inside knowledge of how such properties are managed and cared for. It was also an opportunity to bring together the upcoming cohort of conservators, who came from across Scotland and England to attend the event.
Rachel Pickering, Cultural Resources Advisor for HES offered historical insight and guided the group through the castle, braving the Edinburgh winter weather to share her vast knowledge of the site. We learned about preventive conservation and environmental controls currently utilised within the castle buildings from preventive conservator Rob Thomson. Rob pointed out monitoring equipment, explained the conservation heating system currently in use, and discussed the affect of weather, visitor patterns, and building use on the relative humidity levels, and the consequences for conservation and energy use at the castle.
Committee member and paintings conservator at the HES South Gyle Conservation Centre Damiana Magris discussed her treatment of the wall paintings in the Birthing Room. She explained the multiple past restorations as well as the most recent conservation effort in the small but richly painted room. By a fortuitous coincidence, surveying and cleaning was also being undertaken in the Great Hall by the castle’s team in conjunction with conservators from AOC Archaeology, and we were able to see even more conservation in action.
The event was more than just a lesson in history and conservation. Meeting other students and emerging conservation professionals was a wonderful way to practice networking skills, forge new relationships with students in other specialties, and learn more about other conservation programs in the north. The tour included students from Lincoln University, University College London, University of Glasgow, and Edinburgh University, and ranged from undergraduate level to textile and architectural postgraduate programs. The ending tea reception allowed for us to talk with each other, as well as for some students to get realistic career knowledge from the “emerged” professionals on the tour.
This is the second event from ISG aimed towards the upcoming generation of conservators, and the committee looks to continue the tradition annually.