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Conservation for Digitisation - a Collaborative Internship, by Emma Skinner

Originally Presented: Oct 14, 2020

The Emerging Professionals Network is pleased to bring you the Conservation for Digitisation Webinar. The event will be led by Emma Skinner showcasing a personal reflection on the emerging discipline of Conservation for Digitisation based on her internship experience at The British Library, The National Archives and Bodleian Libraries over the last two years. Emma will explore what the digitisation of cultural heritage is and why it is important, as well as exploring what is Conservation for Digitisation and what skills are needed to be a Digitisation Conservator. She will divide the complex, multi-disciplinary digitisation workflow into its component parts in order to aid understanding. Each stage will look at how the Conservator's role is integral to project delivery, ensuring material is digitised safely and the best image possible can be captured. The talk will conclude with some lessons learnt, hopes for the future and an overview of what are perceived to be some of the key challenges that lie ahead for the heritage sector in terms of access to and the preservation of heritage collections. The conception of the internship will be discussed by Virginia Llado-Buisan, Head of Conservation & Collections Care at the Bodleian Libraries.

The Conservation for Digitisation Internship, generously funded by the Clothworker's Foundation, was a joint venture between three leading UK library and archive institutions who are all leading the way in the digitisation of cultural heritage. It consisted of complimentary, yet distinct experience, over two years and consisted of nine months at The British Library, nine months at The National Archives and six months (extended to nine due to lockdown) at Bodleian Library. The aim was to provide an emerging conservation professional with the necessary skills to support digitisation work, demonstrating the need for and value of experienced conservators in the digitisation field, but also to highlight that a new conservation career pathway has emerged in recent years, as a result of the ‘digital shift’.


Webinar Q&A : Private Practice Series- Business Development and Management

Originally Presented: Wednesday 31st July 2019. 18:00 - 19:30

The Icon Book and Paper Group is  delighted to present the first in their webinar Q&A series on private practice. This ongoing webinar/seminar is open to all conservators who have questions regarding business development and management  The goal is to answer general questions pertaining to common business, legal and insurance issues that conservators face in both the private and public sector.  Topics include explaining business and legal terms; discussing common (but vital) business practices; and advising business etiquette between conservators and their wide range of clients.  Each session after the first will be prompted with a topic, and future sessions will have guest speakers in the fields of Art Law, Insurance and Logistics.  Attendees are asked to pose questions a minimum of one week in advance, which will be answered in the subsequent session.  


About the course leader:

Ashleigh is an emerging paper conservator with private and public sector experience on both sides of the Atlantic.  She gained significant business administration experience outside of conservation as a business PA & Art Collection Manager to ultra high net worth individuals and gained further knowledge in insurance and the legal aspects of the art trade in her role as Head of Conservation at John Jones before their closure.  This webinar combines case studies from those experiences with interviews of other professionals in the arts and aims to aid private and public conservators with the basic business skills and knowledge necessary for success.



The Frederick Bearman Memorial Lecture 2018

Originally Presented: Monday 10th December 2018, 18.30 – 20.45
Bridewell Hall, St Bride’s Foundation, 14 Bride Lane, London. EC4Y 8EQ

The inaugural Frederick Bearman Memorial Lecture,  presented by Jasdip Singh Dhillon, the first recipient of the Frederick Bearman Research Grant.

The lecture: ‘Blessed is that paper’: The Dhan Su Kagad research project



South Asia has an extra-ordinarily rich tradition of papermaking which continues to this day. Papers made in South Asia were fundamental to the development of artistic and book-making traditions. Yet, there has been no technical analysis of historical specimens or the development of a typology for categorising them. The Dhan Su Kagad project (translated as “blessed is that paper”, taken from a Sikh liturgical quotation) was conceived to fulfill this purpose by surveying a representative sample of papers from the Sikh tradition. Jasdip Singh chose to initially focus on the Sikh tradition based on his interest in Sikh manuscripts which cover a wide time-span from the 15th to the 20th century.

This lecture will cover the early history of South Asian papers before detailing the research undertaken on collections in Panjab-India (funded by the Frederick Bearman Research Grant), private collections in the UK, as well as institutional collections such as the Bodleian and British Library. It will be shown how physical measurements, transmitted-light photographs and portable photo-micrographs were used to record chronological and geographical changes in the technologies of paper production.

About the speaker

Jasdip Singh Dhillon is a book and paper conservator based at the Oxford Conservation Consortium. He also helps manage Pothi Seva, a charitable organisation which provides a conservation service for the repair of Sikh manuscripts and printed books.

About the grant

The Frederick Bearman Research Grant is an annual grant that offers up to £1000 to support new research into the conservation of books, paper and related materials. The grant was set up to remember Fred and his contribution to the conservation profession. The lecture will provide a platform for the recipient of the grant to share their research with the conservation community and provide an opportunity to celebrate Fred’s memory.
To find out more about Fred Bearman and the research grant please visit our website.

Further information
See the Book & Paper Group blog to learn more about the Dhan Su Kagad project.



AGM Panel Presentation Slides

Thank you to everyone who joined in the Book & Paper Group AGM this year! We are pleased to offer presentation slides below, from our great panel presenters:

The Blue Shield and Heritage Protection - Dr Emma Cunliffe, Blue Shield International

Preparing for Extreme Events: A Conservator's Perspective - Fiona Macalister ACR FIIC FMA, Indepenent Preventative Conservator



Posters from the Icon Book & Paper Conference 2018, Unexpected fame: Conservation approaches to the preparatory object. 

Download links at the bottom of the page

Vera Nilsson – on the roll, Alison Norton

“Work, finish, publish”: A necessarily minimal intervention on Michael Faraday’s lab notes, Meagan Smith

Preserving Sri Aurobindo’s Epic - Savitri, Nina Jethwa

Conserving the Context of Commonplace- Form and Function in Field Book Treatment, Nora Lockshin

(Un)finished thoughts: Approaches to conserving transitory states in the working documents of Gwendolyn Brooks, Quinn Morgan Ferris

Access for the many, not the few – Suffragette scrapbooks at the Museum of London, Rose Briskman

Mapping Michelangelo, Sam Taylor

Stabilising interpretation and expression: the conservation of the Vaughan Williams annotated score of the St Matthew Passion, Victoria Stevens ACR




2018 ICON Book & Paper Group AGM live recording

Live recording of the ICON Book & Paper Group 2018 Annual General Meeting. Saturday 24 March, 2018 at The British Library, Knowledge Centre Theater, London.

Keynote lecture: Anna Bülow, Head of Conservation at the British Museum. From Paper Conservation to Collection Management: Conservation in Complex Organisations. (Timestamp - 2:06:35)

This new format of AGM included six ten-minute lightning talks from emerging conservators on a variety of topics. 

Link to more information and timestamped video





Evening Lecture: The Identification of Shagreen on Bookbindings as Leather - Herre de Vries

Between 1600 and 1900 a variety of books were covered in a material which is internationally called shagreen or shark leather. It is not, however, tanned or otherwise preserved shark skin, and during treatment it can display both leather- and parchment-like properties. This presentation will discuss the history of this mysterious material by analysing historical sources and exploring the properties ninety such bindings and the characteristics of their microscopical cross sections.

This event was organised and supported by the Book & Paper Group Committee of the ICON Institute of Conservation


Herre de Vries is co-owner of the Amsterdam-based conservation studio Restauratie Nijhoff Asser. He holds a higher professional degree and an MA in book and paper conservation and started his career in 1999 working as bookbinder with Atelier Kloosterman Boekbinders in Amsterdam. For the larger part of his career he has worked in private practice and in 2012 he worked at the Vatican Library on the conservation of Islamic manuscripts.




Interview with paper conservator, Jane McAusland

The following is an interview with Jane McAusland, leading conservator of works of art on paper, in which she talks about her life and work in conversation with her friend and colleague, Catherine Rickman and Documentary Maker, Olivia Humphreys. The links below are to the full interview (50 min) and a shortened version (12 min).

The production of this recording was supported by a grant from the Clare Hampson Fund. A transcript can be found in the Chantry Library






Lecture by Dr Paola Ricciardi from Icon Book & Paper Group AGM

The Icon Book & Paper Group AGM Lecture took place on 30th March 2017 at the Art Workers Guild

This is a guest lecture by Dr Paola Ricciardi: Colour, colourants and context - a heritage scientist's perspective.

About the speaker

Dr Paola Ricciardi is a Research Scientist at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. She is responsible for the scientific aspects of the MINIARE research project, which has been studying illuminated manuscripts with a cross-disciplinary approach for the past five years. She worked alongside curator Dr Stella Panayotova on the Fitzwilliam's recent bicentenary exhibition 'COLOUR: the art and science of illuminated manuscripts'. She holds a PhD in Cultural Heritage Science from the University of Florence (2008) and a Master’s Degree in Physics from the University of Rome (2003). Before joining the Fitzwilliam Museum in October 2011, she spent three years at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC as the Samuel H. Kress post-doctoral Fellow in Imaging Science.

Her main research interests include the technical analysis of cultural heritage objects, particularly with non-invasive analytical methods; the study of artists’ materials and techniques; and the transfer of knowledge between artists and craftsmen working in different media.