In April and May 2018, Grace Barrand and I travelled to Bathurst NSW to work with the Bathurst Regional Council collections. As student conservators, we went to Bathurst as part of a Student Engagement Grant from the University of Melbourne and a collaboration with the Bathurst Council. Under the direction and guidance of the Collections Manager, Tim Pike, Grace and I were given the opportunity to work on several different collections at sites across Bathurst and its outskirts.
A week was spent at Chifley Home, documenting at-risk objects, as well as cleaning and rehousing items that were considered to be at risk of future damage or loss. A day trip to the nearby town of Rockley to take paint samples at the Rockley Mill and Stables Museum to determine original colours to assist in repainting was an opportunity to talk with the volunteer group about their hopes for the future of the museum and their ‘to do’ list in regards to the documentation of their collection. Our final project with the Council collections was the Bathurst Carillon located in the town square, where Grace and I had attended the ANZAC Day service the week before. The opportunity to access this space and work alongside the bells to write condition reports and recommendations for storage and handling was a great privilege.
Our time in Bathurst coincided with the annual Bathurst Heritage Trades Trail (12-13 May 2018), where the AICCM in conjunction with the Grimwade Centre would be putting on demonstrations and presenting information to the public about how to take care of personal collections in the home. This opportunity allowed Grace and me, working alongside Samantha Friend, President of the Historical Society and Amy Heffernan, AICCM emerging conservator and Bathurst local to work at the Historical Society’s storage annex, selecting appropriate demonstration objects mostly metals (predominantly silverware), photographs, and textiles, as well as pieces showing common deterioration patterns.
In the week leading up to the Heritage Trades Trail, fellow Grimwade Centre student conservators Lisa Mansfield, Laura Gransbury, and Christina Kong joined us in Bathurst to assist. Bronwyn Dunn, a Grimwade alumni and professional conservator in Sydney, also travelled to Bathurst to volunteer at the event. We were encouraged and excited to see the interest and appreciation that visitors had regarding public heritage conservation, as well as for their own personal collections. We estimate we spoke to over 1000 visitors over the weekend!
Our time in Bathurst gave us the opportunity to experience what the requirements, expectations and realities of working for a regional council collection entailed. Finishing our three weeks with the Heritage Trades Trail, where the public appeared to be interested and appreciative of what we do, filled us with enthusiasm for the future of our profession.