This seminar will be a general introduction: rather than focusing on one particular conservation project, it will examine general training, the type of works undertaken and the ethics of furniture conservation. It will be co-hosted by Dr Tessa Murdoch (Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Research Curator, V&A) who will provide a brief introduction, and Yannick Chastang (Faverham, Kent, Private Conservator, Ex-Wallace Collection) who will present a first short paper on ‘Furniture restoration/conservation: past, present and future’. Presentations from the following contributors will then follow:
Tristram Bainbridge, London, UK. V&A and Private Practise
Tristram Bainbridge has worked as a furniture conservator at the V&A from 2011. After completing his first degree in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute, he gained an MA in furniture conservation from West Dean College, and achieved Institute of Conservation accreditation in 2015. After becoming part-time at the V&A, Tristram set up a conservation studio, Bainbridge Conservation Ltd, working on furniture and historic interior woodwork for clients including English Heritage, Westminster Abbey and Ripon Cathedral.
Tristram’s talk is entitled Furniture Conservation at the V&A. It will go behind the scenes at the museum’s furniture conservation department, revealing treatments types, exploring the decision making processes and discussing the wide range of objects and materials that are encountered. The museum’s recent extensive restoration programmes in their Furniture, Europe 1600-1800, Japanese Art, and 20th/21st Century Galleries, saw hundreds of furniture objects conserved. The talk will include some highlights of the past ten years as well as discussing Tristram’s current work.
Irmela Breidenstein, Berlin, Germany. Private Conservator.
After an apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker in 1981, Irmela trained for three years in a private workshop. She completed a postgraduate diploma in conservation studies in 1992 at CICS Cologne and has since run a private workshop, with specialisms in painted and gilded furniture, Asian and European lacquer objects, mother-of-pearl and Boulle marquetry. Between 2004 and 2006 she executed several copies of Boulle pieces as part of the reconstruction of the historic Green Vault in Dresden, and since 2018 has been involved in the restoration and conservation of pieces by Jean Pierre Latz for the State Collections of Dresden.
Irmela’s talk will aim to compare lacquer work and Boulle marquetry, both decorative techniques that enjoyed great popularity in the courtly world of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Using a few selected examples, and with a focus on methods of supplementation and cleaning, the paper will discuss the aesthetic, conservational, ethical and even financial conditions that can affect a conservation decision.
Peter Holmes, London, UK. Private Consultant, ex Arlington Conservation.
Peter Holmes is a freelance furniture consultant. A trained cabinetmaker, he has over 40 years’ experience working in and running furniture conservation workshops. A former director of the art dealers Spink and Son, he founded Arlington Conservation in 2001. He is a regular member of the furniture vetting committee at Masterpiece, London, and a former officer of the FHS Council.
Peter’s talk, entitled Trailing in the wake of the Master Maker - My duty of Care, will track his career in furniture conservation, charting the evolution of the restoration workshop during this time. Using his own perspective, it will chart both the highs and lows of his experience, and will aim to be of as much interest to those who commission furniture conservation work, as to those who undertake it.
Marine Prevet, Paris, France. Private Conservator, atelier KoPal.
Marine Prevet studied cabinet making, and travelled three years as an ébéniste whilst training at the Compagnons du Devoir, before studying furniture conservation at France’s Institut National du Patrimoine. Whilst a student, she spent six months in Germany, first at the Bayerisches National Museum and then at the Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung.
In 2016 Marine went into partnership with Nelly Koenig, founding their workshop Atelier KoPal. They mainly work for public institutions restoring pieces of furniture, panelling and wooden objects, including models and musical instruments. Her talk will explore research on conservation treatments, including varnish fillings (with resin gels and resin film) and compare the relative merits of modern digital methods with traditional techniques.
There will be a short discussion at the end of each presentation, and a panel discussion and Q&A at the end of the seminar.
Non-members are welcome to attend for a £5 fee.