The winners of the 2017 AICCM Awards were announced at during the National Conference in Katoomba last month. Congratulations to all the winners and our thanks to everyone who nominated an extraordinary conservation professional they know for recognition in these awards.

Student of the Year (University of Melbourne), supported by ADFAS

Robyn Ho

The Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation is very pleased to nominate Robyn Ho as the 2017 AICCM conservator of the year for her outstanding contribution to the profession and extremely high academic achievement in the Masters by Coursework Cultural Materials Conservation. Robyn’s commitment and merit is clearly demonstrated in her academic grades, attention to detail and professionalisation in her current employment and enactment of conservation principles and ethics.

In particular, Robyn has made a major contribution to the AICCM Bulletin as part of the Editorial Assistant Committee. She is committed and detailed in her editorial standards and argument, and has supported the Chief Editor in maintaining high quality and standards of the AICCM Bulletin. Such credibility and professional skills, extends to Robyn’s contribution to the Grimwade Centre’s strategic partnerships with China. Robyn undertook an internship placement with the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology (SPIA) in 2015 on a significant Chinese mural painting, and a public lecture on the topic at the Grimwade Centre. In 2017 Robyn also supported the hosting of SPIA visitors and assisted with an Australian-China Council grant application with the development of info graphics. Robyn was part of the Trades Hall Old Council Chamber Project team in 2017 and previously the 2015 student group, and was instrumental in structuring the report and its content. In 2015, Robyn was also one of the co-authors who presented their trades Hall at the Hobart National Council Conference.  Robyn’s minor thesis research was on ‘Seeing from ‘a thousand different angles’: Conservation of Inge King’s Wodonga Fountain, 1972 and outdoor painted sculpture’, and was just that, undertaking conservation research was many different angles and was most comprehensive in its approach. Robyn While working full time with 6 degrees architects, Robyn has also undertaking country work with the Robyn Boyd Foundation as a collections management volunteer and on the CUB archaeological site, and the NGV live conservation project in 2015. Robyn is a member of the AICCM, INCAA and the Architects Association, and will make a strong contribution to the AICCM and the conservation profession, and we wish her the very best upon graduation.

Robyn Ho

AICCM University of Canberra Student of the Year

Student of the Year (University of Canberra), supported by ADFAS

Danica Auld

Danica completed her bachelor’s degree in Heritage, Museums and Conservation in 2016 with exceptional academic results, and has continued on into Honours. Her Honours project explore the materiality, meaning and potential for community engagement of an unusual group of handmade textiles from the former Wiillow Court mental asylum in New Norfolk. Found deposited under a verandah in the Ladies Cottage on the site, the textiles, and in particular a group of embroidered aprons, appear to have been deliberately and secretly deposited for reasons which can only be imagined. Danica is using this project to push the boundaries of conservation, exploring the construction and decoration of the aprons through both technical examination and empathic recreation, and using information from these and other sources to build a story that may portray a gentler side of an institution with a chequered history.

Danica has been AICCM student representative and a regular participant in AICCM ACT activities and meetings throughout her studies, and has engaged with the conservation profession through both her AICCM activities and through internships completed as part of her studies. She is particularly interested in textiles conservation, and has developed a strong interest in modern textiles as a result of work at the National Museum of Australia on the cycling outfit belonging to Aboriginal cyclist Albert (Alby) Clarke.Danica Auld, Julian Bickersteth presenting the award.

Conservator of the Year

Helen Privett

Helen is an objects conservator and AICCM member of many years standing. She has been the AICCM Event and SIG Coordinator since 2014. She has previously held other AICCM office-bearing positions, such as the President of the Victorian Division and the Objects SIG Convener.

In her position has AICCM Event and SIG Coordinator, Helen has made an enormous contribution to the profession. Helen has mentored and assisted in the successful delivery of numerous AICCM events, including several SIG events in 2016 and this year’s National Conference. Her efforts have helped to raise the professional standing of AICCM both nationally and internationally. Her enthusiasm, good nature and powers of communication and project management have greatly aided the amazing achievements of AICCM special interest groups and State divisions in the last few years.

Helen’s work as AICCM Event and SIG Convener has helped to make the process of organizing events clearer, more efficient and more straightforward. She has done this by developing and/or updating documents and procedures such as the SIG Events Manual, maintaining SIG Event documentation in the shared SIG Conveners Dropbox folder, liaising with National Council about event proposals, and always being on the other end of the phone to provide advice to SIG Conveners about budget management, travel arrangements and other event logistics.

Outstanding Service to the Conservation Profession

Sophie Lewincamp

Sophie is a current AICCM member, who has mentored students and routinely promoted the profession during her long-term involvement with the RSL LifeCare War Museum and recent work with the War Heritage Roadshow.

In April 2017 Sophie coordinated the first Museum Week held at the RSL LifeCare Village. The regular presence of student conservators during the last five years has done much to promote the conservation profession, as students have been able to work with residents in collection management activities and share conservation principles. The workshops held during the Museum Week built upon these foundations, seeking to actively educate the local community in conservation principles and promote the museum. While Sophie led some sessions, she also ensured students and volunteer residents led workshops demonstrating the strong community and mentoring emphasis that has underpinned the project from the beginning. The RSL LifeCare War Museum project will have long-term benefits for the profession, helping to produce more experienced and community focused graduates.

During the last five years at the RSL, Sophie has liaised and worked with a number of allied professionals including architects, builders, display case companies and researchers. Some project examples include; overseeing the replacement of faulty LED lights, consulting with builders regarding rising damp on the airplane wall, and providing advice for the safe construction of a motorbike display case. Her involvement ensured conservation principles were integrated into the new building design and promoted the conservation profession to the architects and contractors that have been involved in the various building stages. The project has also enabled students and graduates to work with a variety of allied professions including the Omeka team at the University of Melbourne, Legacy and oral history staff at the RSL LifeCare Village.

Another project that Sophie recognized had potential for mentorship is the War Heritage Roadshow, which is an initiative of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and running currently. Sophie was part of the organizing team and liaised with the Student Conservators At Melbourne (SCAM) so that students could assist professionals during the community appointments. Students are able to sit with staff from the Conservation Commercial Services (CCS) as they consult and advise community members on how best to preserve their personal collections. They are also able to assist in delivering workshops covering a range of best practice advice. Eleven students participated in the first North Melbourne roadshow, with further opportunities available from students during the next ten venues. By identifying the mentoring opportunity, Sophie has again enabled students to gain valuable experience and networking opportunities. The Roadshow project has also emphasized the importance of community engagement to the students, and demonstrated how conservators can clearly communicate with the public.

Treatment of the Year

Skye Firth (Birdwood Flag Project)

Australia’s first national flag, known as the Birdwood Flag, was flown at the headquarters of General William Birdwood at the Western Front. After the war it was ‘laid-up’ at the Christ Church Cathedral in Newcastle since the 1920’s, where it slowly fell from its pole to the ground.  Thousands of tiny pieces were collected and stored in a box in the Cathedral safe.  The box contained one of Australia’s most significant artefacts from World War I.

In June 2015, a two year journey began when ICS was presented with a small box full of tiny silk fragments and a request to piece the flag back together.  The project was a collaboration between the Cathedral, the University of Newcastle, Tashco Display Systems, and a Committee, named the Birdwood Heritage Committee, dedicated to the preservation of the flag.

A Copeland Foundation grant enabled us to a 12 month reconstruction journey to assemble the fragments based on their weave direction, shape, colour and fading pattern before they were encased between two layers of tulle. Each fragment was then surrounded by meticulous hand stitching to secure them in place

The results of this treatment have been described by the community as miraculous. The thousands of tiny silk pieces contained in a box, have been reconstructed into a 1.4 x 2.7 metre flag which is now clearly recognisable as Australia’s first national flag.  The presentation of the conserved flag has been widely reported in the local media as well as nationally. Both the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Newcastle Broadcasting Network television networks visited the ICS lab to document the story and attended the installation of the flag at the Cathedral before its re-hallowing on 30th July, 2017. The Birdwood flag is now safely displayed in its purpose designed showcase at the Cathedral.  The showcase will enable it to be loaned to other cultural institutions such as the Newcastle Museum or the Australian War Memorial.  Interpretive leaflets and plaques have been designed to enhance visitor understanding of the flag’s history as well as the process of its conservation for a ‘second life’. An Australian red cedar credence (table) is being restored, to make provide brochures for visitors to the Cathedral, which is open every day.

Skye Firth

Outstanding Research in the Field of Material Conservation

Sabine Cotte

Sabine has been an active researcher throughout her professional career. In addition to balancing the demands of managing a successful paintings conservation practice, Sabine has undertaken independent research focusing on the treatment of Tibetan thangka and more recently conserving public art. A listing of her publications, can be found below and here.

Her research engages the ethical frameworks and social outputs of practice as well employing comprehensive technical analysis, exemplifying contemporary conservation practice. She works with local artists and local communities, providing access to the strengths and values that a conservation-based approach provides, to create shared community outcomes. Her work has been underpinned by a strong collaborative approach well before ‘collaboration’ and ‘participatory engagement’ became a thing.

She has published extensively nationally and internationally, sharing the work of Australian conservators with such publications as Studies in Conservation, ICOM-CC and the South and Southeast Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion.

Since 2015 she has published three articles in the AICCM Bulletin, most recently as a joint publication with conservator Nicole Tse and art historian Alison Inglis titled ‘Artists’ interviews and their use in conservation: reflections on issues and practices’.


The AICCM Medal, formally the AICCM Hall of Fame, was awarded posthumously to Emeritus Professor Colin Pearson.

ADFAS Mid-Career Scholarship

Congratulations to Wendy Reade, recipient of the 2017 Mid-Career Scholarship, sponsored by ADFAS.  The 2017 ADFAS Mid-Career Scholarship has been awarded to Dr. Wendy Reade, Conservator for Sydney University Museums. The scholarship will support her attendance at the Munich International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE) in in April 2018. Wendy’s paper on the conservation of a 3400-year-old Egyptian fresco-painted pavement from the Maru-Aten garden complex of Amarna, capital of the heretic king Akhenaten, and his queen, Nefertiti, has been accepted to ICAANE and will be published in the refereed conference proceedings.

Wendy’s attendance at ICAANE will increase international appreciation of Australian strengths and achievements in the conservation field  and facilitate interaction with international conservation specialists, archaeologists, scientists and art historians.


Wendy Reade

Supported by ADFAS