Author:
MaryJo Lelyveld

The past two months have certainly been busy ones for the profession and the AICCM in particular. With our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan firmly in hand, we’re working through our three key priorities of: creating a sustainable organisation; increasing relevance in an evolving industry landscape; and providing essential member services.

Opportunities for professional development

It’s been an eventful few months for, well… events! In June the AICCM 4-day Reflectance Transformation Imaging workshop was held at the University of Melbourne. Although widely used across the US as a low-cost means of 3D documentation for collection objects and artwork, the technique is less well-known in Australia. Through the generous support of the Australian Decorative Fine Arts Society Patricia Robertson Scholarship Fund and the Gordon Darling Foundation, we were able to bring the developers of this technique, Cultural Heritage Imaging, to Australia. Colleagues from the allied professions including archaeology and collections management attended the 4-day workshop, providing a great opportunity to engage with our industry peers, and of course a large number of conservators took the opportunity to attend the half-day introduction to RTI. 

In August, the Gilded Objects Conservation SIG hosted a 3 day symposium at the National Gallery of Victoria. The symposium was attended by frames conservators, commercial framers and frame historians from across the globe including guest speakers Lyn Roberts (of the highly readable and infinitely knowledgeable The Frame Blog) and Impressionist frames expert Eva Mendgen. I was fortunate to (briefly) attend this symposium and can attest to its success as an engaging and energising event for many of the attendees.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at University of Melbourne and National Gallery of Victoria, as well as event organisers Claire Tindall (RTI), Louise Bradley, Barbara Dabrowa and Holly McGowan-Jackson (GOCSIG) and Helen Privett (SIG and Event Coordinator) for their support and energy in delivering such stimulating events. 

Advocacy

On the advocacy front, there have been a number of calls by state and federal parliaments for feedback on museum and conservation related concerns, including the NSW upper house inquiry into ‘the performance or effectiveness of the NSW Government agencies responsible for the organisation, structure and funding of museums and galleries in New South Wales’. The thoughtful and comprehensive AICCM submission to this NSW upper house enquiry was developed by NSW Division members Sarah-Jane Rennie, Tamara Lavrencic, Jonathan London and NSW State President Sheldon Teare behalf of AICCM. I thank them for their involvement in this critical undertaking.

More recently, the Australian Government released the National Research Infrastructure Capability Issues Paper to inform the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap, which will be used to determine the national research infrastructure over the next decade. It is extremely exciting to see Cultural Materials Conservation as a key interest area for Section 8. ‘Understanding Cultures and Communities’ along with ‘potential new infrastructure’ submitted under project examples however the comment that “much conservation practice remains unnecessarily involved, labour intensive and unsustainable” is of real concern. Given our membership network, the AICCM is well-placed to assist with “developing and sharing information about good conservation practice” and looks forward to addressing the perceived criticisms directed against conservation practice. 

The AICCM is currently preparing a submission in response to the National Research Infrastructure Capability Issues Papers and thank those members who have already responded to our call for input towards this.

Grant applications

The AICCM has partnered with the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and been successful in securing a University of Melbourne Faculty of Arts Research Grant. The application is for a project titled: Rethinking Heritage Opportunity in Regional Australia: A Critical Response to Risks to the Survival of Australia’s Cultural Material and seeks to produce a series of Green Papers around the questions of:

  • Where is Australia’s heritage held?
  • Who is looking after it?
  • Why is it important? What significance and values does it hold?
  • How is Australia’s cultural material at risk?
  • What actions would be most effective to preserve Australia’s cultural heritage?

The project will involve a literature review and series of community and stakeholder consultations addressing these questions. Community consultations have been proposed for a mix of Indigenous communities and regional councils.

Membership Questionnaire

Lastly, I would like to bring your attention to the Membership Questionnaire that is being distributed with this edition of the e-news. The questionnaire has been developed to better gauge the nature and needs of our members and inform AICCM planning over the coming years. The questionnaire consists of 30 questions and covers the routine (demographics) as well as feedback on current services, activities and the direction of the organisation. The survey is expected to take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete, with options of tick boxes for the time poor and extended text boxes to capture more comprehensive responses. The survey will be available here from Monday 12th September – Friday 14th October.