Textile Conservation student placements

Issued: Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:42:00 BST

Three postgraduate Textile Conservation students from the University of Glasgow have started a placement at the House of Commons to preserve tapestries.

The month-long placement is based in Portcullis House, where they will work to maintain the Contemporary Textile Collection.

The conservators will also document their work throughout the project, and will learn about the history of the Parliamentary Art Collection and the commissioning of these textiles.

Preserving tapestries

All the textiles have been in situ since the building opened, and after more than ten years they are now in need of care to ensure they survive in good condition for future generations to enjoy.

The scheme will provide training in surface cleaning, minor repairs, attachment of linings, improvement of existing mounting and hanging systems, and re-installation.

The building’s architect, Sir Michael Hopkins, selected textiles for their decorative and practical use as they soften the acoustics in Select Committee Meeting rooms.

The tapestries in Portcullis House – which form one of the UK’s largest public collections of contemporary textiles – include the works of leading UK textile artists Kate Blee, Allegra Hicks, Jennie Moncur and Helen Yardley.

The University of Glasgow students are completing the placement as part of a two year postgraduate programme.

  • Emily Austen, in her second year of the MPhil, previously studied Design & Applied Arts at the Edinburgh College of Art.
  • Maria Grabowska, also second year, was an Archaeology student at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland.
  • Cecelia Voss studied Classics with Italian, and has completed her first year of the Textile Conservation course.

MPhil Textile Conservation

The MPhil course is split between a framework of theoretical knowledge and a range of practical experiences - such as this project at Portcullis House - which enables students to contribute to the understanding and preservation of culturally significant textile artefacts such as these.

It develops a range of multidisciplinary skills which combines academic knowledge with cultural awareness, aesthetic sensitivity and technical skill.

Frances Lennard, who is the course convener for the Textile Conservation MPhil, said: ‘The conservation project our postgraduate students are involved in at Portcullis House represents a fantastic opportunity for some hands-on experience in the kind of environments they are very likely to end up working in.

‘The opportunity to work on large textiles such as these ones and to work together with students from other institutions is a great advantage to them, and important work for the preservation of these textiles too.’

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