I have learnt a lot over the course of my one-year internship and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Canterbury Cathedral. As well as conserving The Attributes of Christ, I have completed several different conservation projects in the studio and around the Cathedral.
I have worked on objects from the 13th century right up until the 20th century and have encountered both new and familiar materials. As well as conservation, I have had the opportunity to re-visit bookbinding, creating a library-style binding for the studio’s gold finishing tool catalogue and in the form of a medieval Romanesque binding – watch this space for more details in the future!
I have really appreciated the opportunities that my busy year has provided, as it has allowed me to grow as a conservator and increase my repertoire. I believe I have become more confident when talking to other people about my work through tours and through this blog.
Throughout the year, I have been gaining new skills which I can take with me into future employment: I have acquired a good sense of who I am as a conservator and now have a firm idea of why conservation is important to our heritage, especially within a living and breathing community such as Canterbury. Being able to interact with readers and other members of archives staff in the reading room means I can see how my work directly influences the research processes of visitors.
Outside of learning what it is like to work in a small team, the larger Cathedral community helped to motivate me and reaffirm why I am a conservator: there is a great feeling at the Cathedral that we are all working toward preserving this iconic building and the life it has.
I have had fantastic opportunities to keep learning outside of the Cathedral and, having attended several conferences and talks, I feel like I have been able to improve on my professional development. I have been to a talk led by LIGATUS and to a conference all about book conservation in Oslo. The conference really helped me to communicate with other people in my profession and keep abreast with new research and trends in the field. I particularly found the Bodleian’s recent day seminar on the conservation of the Winchester Bibles fascinating, as it emphasised the dual role of conservator as a craftsperson and researcher, and provided a snapshot into historical binding techniques that are often obscured by more modern practices.
One of my unusual duties outside of the studio was to de-install and courier some of the Cathedral’s most precious objects from the V&A to Canterbury after a successful exhibition. This was both exciting and nerve-wracking because I’d never done anything like that before and I had a huge responsibility to get the items back safely! I am very grateful I have had these sorts of opportunities as they are learning moments and fantastic examples to use in job applications.
I have learnt a lot at Canterbury Cathedral and one thing that my internship has taught me is that there is still a lot to learn! My next position is at Penzance Conservation, where I will be a trainee for 18 months, learning more about outreach and teaching other people about conservation. I hope to take all the skills I have gained to my future endeavours and continue to aim toward being the best conservator I can be.
I am thankful to the Cathedral Trust for sponsoring my internship and letting me learn so much, inside and outside of the studio. I have worked among a fantastic group of people in the wider Cathedral community, including volunteers and staff from Archives and Library, pushing the collections to their best potential. I am especially grateful for my fellow conservators, Heather and Emma, who have taught me about conservation beyond books and paper, as well as the very important job of insect pest management in an old, vast building.
My heartfelt thanks to my supervisor, Ariane, from whom I have learnt so much, for letting me discover myself as a conservator, allowing me to make mistakes (and teaching me how to fix them!) and for doubling my conservation confidence. Our studio chats about the job market, interviews, freelance conservation and new techniques (and Game of Thrones!) are just as important as all the training I received and I am grateful for all of them.
Lastly, thank you, readers, for joining me in my journey to conserve and thanks to a wonderful PR team for letting me have some space on the website! I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship and being able to tell you all about it through this little part of the internet. I hope to see you in the future over at the Penzance Conservation blog!