How did you feel when you were awarded a George Alexander Foundation fellowship?
I was very excited to receive the George Alexander Foundation fellowship before undertaking my studies in book conservation at West Dean College in the United Kingdom. The fact that I was awarded the fellowship showed me that others were excited and interested in what I was undertaking and made me even more certain that this would be a worthwhile endeavour. The support of industry professionals and people who are leaders in their fields meant a lot.
What has it meant to you? What has it made possible?
Receiving the fellowship allowed me to undertake my first year of study in the Conservation of Books and Library Materials program at West Dean College in the United Kingdom. This has led to my undertaking the second year of the program, which will lead to earning an MA in Conservation Studies, specifically related to book conservation. This is a field that I have been passionate about and involved in for about ten years, and this qualification will help me to further my own career in Australia and also allow me to bring back cutting-edge skills and knowledge to share with my peers in the field.
Where did the fellowship enable you to travel? Who did it enable you to visit and learn from?
Through this fellowship, I have been able to travel to the United Kingdom to study in this program, which is unavailable in Australia. As part of the program, students travel to various institutions and exhibitions around the UK to view book conservation in action. We have visited many institutions in London, including the National Archives, Lambeth Palace, The British Library and others. We have also visited the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, and this year will be going on a week-long study tour to the Netherlands. Recently I completed six weeks of work experience at the Notarial Archives in Malta. This gave me experience working with a unique and valuable collection of documents in a setting quite different to what I am used to in Australia. Due to the climate and limited resources, conservators there use different materials than I am used to, but there are also many similarities in their working practices. This experience broadened my knowledge base, and I learned new techniques and skills that I will bring back to share with fellow students and colleagues.
What skills have you developed as a result of this Fellowship/what did you learn?
Although my learning experience is still ongoing, the first year of my studies in the UK has vastly expanded my knowledge of book conservation. The opportunity to focus solely on practice and research has allowed me to finely hone my skills and refine my techniques both in bench work and research, which will allow me a wider and more varied approach to the treatment of cultural collections in Australia.
How have you shared your learnings with others?
This fellowship has allowed me to share knowledge in two directions. As I came to the UK with some experience in conservation, I have been able to share some knowledge with my fellow students here and discuss treatment options with them. It is a widely international school and I have also been able to learn from students with experience in conservation from different countries. I will also be able to share knowledge with fellow colleagues in the field when I return to Australia.
What is your end goal from having undertaken this fellowship?
Upon completion of this program, I will return to my position in Collection Care at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, where I will apply my newfound knowledge and skills in the conservation of that treasured collection.