It is the time of the year when a few moments arise to think back over 2018 as the new year begins. Like always, 2018 at the Grimwade Centre was busy with the appointment of new staff, subjects and graduating professionals in December. In this newsletter and the next, our Student Conservators at Melbourne (SCAM) will profile our new staff at the Centre, Dr Jonathan Kemp in this issue and Robert Lane (Rob) in the forthcoming issue. Both come with complimentary skills for the Masters in Cultural Materials Conservation Program; Jonathan arriving from the UK via Japan with a background in stone and objects conservation, and new media archaeology; and Rob with a background in new media and cross-cultural conservation. To add, we will also welcome Dr Gea Parikesit from the Faculty of Engineering at Universitas Gadjah Mada for two years part time, who will be focussing on the principles of engineering, optical physics and digitisation at the Grimwade Centre. We really look forward to the coming years and the journey the program will take with these exciting skills.
In December we ran the new Specialist Certificate in Cross Cultural Conservation with ANKA (Association of Northern Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists). Artworkers from Northern Australian Arts Centre’s joined the program for an intense two weeks in Melbourne led by Robyn Sloggett, Marcelle Scott and Rob Lane. I think all would say it was a deep and rich experience, and students will also be awarded with a recognised qualification upon completion. This was an important step for students to be recognised for their studies rather than the short workshop model and has taken years to establish. It is the first accredited University program in Australia designed specifically for Indigenous arts workers from remote communities and is a possible gateway to a Masters in Cultural Materials Conservation. The Specialist Certificate is the result of a unique partnership between the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists Aboriginal Corporation (ANKA), the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation and Trinity College at The University of Melbourne. It aims to enhance local Indigenous management of cultural collections in remote communities and further build Indigenous arts leadership across the Top End.
Also new for 2018 was an overseas subject in the Philippines, ‘Content in the Field’ with Nicole Tse. This was with the National Museum of the Philippines and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Guiuan, Eastern Samar where the subject was held. The aim was to examine the authorised role of heritage discourses in remote and regional community collections, knowledge systems and decision making for technical conservation solutions. We hope this raised more questions than answers. While our teaching program at the Grimwade Centre welcomed Jenny Dickens from Heritage Victoria (in objects conservation), Cheryl Jackson from the National Archives (in photographic conservation) and Ian MacLeod (in metals conservation) as our Executive in Residence. As Senior Professional Conservators they have so much expertise to offer our students and real-world experiences. We are very thankful for their significant contributions.
The sharing and generation of knowledge was important for 2018. In December we had Kim Vernon (minor thesis research on hydrogenated castor oil in oil paints) and Julianne Bell (PhD on the conservation of plastics) present their research at the Infrared Users Group at the AGNSW. In November, Saiful Bakhri (minor thesis research on conservation in Indonesia) and Anastazja Harding (minor thesis research on retablo living heritage in the Philippines) present at ARTESH (International Conference on Art for Technology, Science and Humanities) in Bandung Indonesia. Eliza O’Donnell (PhD on art attribution in Indonesia) also presented in Indonesia at ICAPAS (International Conference for Asia Pacific Arts Studies) in Yogyakarta and earlier in May at the ACAH (The Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities) in Kobe Japan. Sharon Wong (PhD on plastics in archaeology) gave a paper at the AAA (Australian Archaeological Association) in November in New Zealand, while Cancy Chu (PhD on plastic conservation) from the same research project gave a paper at the AICCM Book and Paper SIG at Museum Victoria. In September Ainslee Meredith (PhD on sustainability in conservation) also gave a paper at the 2018 Association of Critical Heritage Studies conference, held in Hangzhou, China. Mid-year PhD students Ainslee Meredith, Julianne Bell and Eliza O’Donnell also organised a Universitas 21 International Graduate Student Network on ‘Conservation, Material Culture and Art Attribution’at the University of Cologne to build graduate research networks. Lastly Grimwade Centre staff Nicole Tse gave a paper at IIC Turin along with Ana Labrador on Preventive Conservation in the Philippines. Rob Lane joined the Queens University curriculum round table discussion on ‘Curriculum Shifts: New Approaches to the Conservation of Cultural Material’and documented a performance conservation process at MOMA.
Finally Masters student Perri Sparnon wins the 2018 ICOM Australia International Museum Day essay for ‘Hyperconnected museums: new approaches, new publics’ (see http://icom.org.au/site/activitiesimd.php …). You can also read some of our Masters student treatment blogs and the minor thesis research program for the year of 2018 on our website (see http://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/cultcons/).