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About the Textile Group

The Textile Group remains one of the largest Icon groups. We have an active committee who exists to represent the Textile Group within Icon and arrange events and activities for its members. We welcome suggestions for future activities and offers from institutions willing to host a workshop, visit etc.

We'd love to share any textile conservation news, articles, blogs and content you have.  Please contact Freya Gabbutt if you would like to share anything on our website or social media.  

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Textile Group News

ICOM-CC Textiles Working Group Interim Meeting 2019 -CALL FOR PAPERS
A Challenging Dimension: The Conservation and Research of Costume and Accessories
Abegg-Stiftung in Riggisberg, Switzerland
20 - 21 June 2019
The topic of this interim meeting is the unique challenges of preserving and conserving costume, dress, and fashion. The selection committee welcomes papers that demonstrate innovative treatments, original research, reflective practice, and/or transdisciplinary working methods and collaboration. Potential topics relating to the conservation of costume and accessories include:
• Adhesives
• Aqueous and non-aqueous cleaning methods
• Archiving and collection storage methods
• Balancing aesthetic requirements with conservation ethics
• Conservation history and theory
• Mounting
• Non-textile materials (buttons, sequins, metal, etc)
• Pedagogy
• Research on materials and techniques
• Synthetic materials
• Working with designers, artists, source communities, and other stakeholders
Abstracts should be no more than 300 words in English, excluding title and author contact information (name, title, mailing address, email, telephone).
** Please send abstracts via email to Suzan Meijer, with the subject: ICOM-CC Textiles Working Group Meeting 2019 by 6 January 2019.**
The selection committee will announce decisions by 15 February 2019.
All papers will be presented in English. ICOM-CC Textiles Working Group plans to publish the Interim Meeting papers online following the conference.
Thanks to generous support from the Abegg-Stiftung, there will be no registration fee for the conference.  All attendees and speakers will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs.
Registration and booking will open from early 2019, details to be posted in January.



Committee Changes 

Sadly we have four committee members leaving our team this year.  Thank you Alison Lister, Sarah Glenn, Branwyn Roberts & Melina Plottu for all your hard work.

We have new members of the team!

Chair:  Ann French

Treasurer: Kim Thüsing extends her original three years in the role by a further two years.

Secretary: Katy Smith moves from Events to Secretary for two years.

Events: New committee members Maria Pardos , Emily Austin and Viola Nicastro voted in.  See thier bios below. 

Ann French is a founder member of the Icon Textile Group, having worked in the field of Textile Conservation for over thirty years.  She trained at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and has worked for a variety of institutions including Glasgow Museums, the South West Museums Service and the National Trust.  She has been employed at the Whitworth, the University of Manchester since 2002 as Conservator (Textiles), being responsible for all textile based material in its collections encompassing post-Pharaonic textiles from Egypt to contemporary art textiles.   Since 2011 she has combined this role with that of Collection Care Manager which ranges from management of the Collections Care & Access Team and the conservation studio, dealing with exhibitions and loans, to environmental and insect pest monitoring.  An active collecting policy for contemporary art at the Whitworth has required a specific interest in balancing the needs and care of more traditional and historic collections with those of more contemporary art and installations – both in terms of interventive and preventive conservation.

"As a founder member of the Icon Textile Group while I myself have progressed in my own career, I have witnessed the group’s development into the organisation it is today.  I believe that the group must remain the essential forum for all matters textile conservation in the UK – providing CPD and discussion forums for us all.  However, most heritage organisations with textile collections in the UK do not have easy access to textile conservation and advice, and I would like us to consider how we could support this wider sector and public – especially given the budget cuts faced by so many heritage organisations.  As conservators, I feel we should undertake public engagement – something I would encourage the group to develop.  I would like to see the Textile Group be flexible in what it provides for its members, maintaining the smaller back-to-basics workshops, but also engaging with issues of career progression, public engagement and the impact of contemporary collecting and exhibitions.

The Icon Triennial Conference in Belfast next year would provide the initial challenge – to encourage a substantive textile audience for an out of London venue – in the context of a wider Icon Conference.  This would form the initial challenge for the Textile Group Committee, while considering a future programme to meet member needs & suggestions."


Maria Pardos trained in Spain, where she obtained a BA Degree in Paintings (2005-08), Textile Conservation (2010-12) and a MA in Conservation (2014-15).  She began her career as a Painting and Objects Conservator and, since 2010, she has focused on Textile Conservation, working at the Valencian Conservation Institute (Castellon, Spain), the Galliera Museum (Paris), The Bowes Museum and The National Maritime Museum Textile Conservation Studios. Since early 2016 Maria has become part of the team at May Berkouwer's studio working as a full time Textile Conservator.

“Since I first moved to the UK in 2015 to work as an ICON Textile Conservation Intern at the Bowes Museum I was amazed with the warm welcome received by colleagues in the sector. The Textile group gives us the opportunity to grow together as a profession, encouraging reseach, networking and being open minded towards sharing our experiences with fellow colleagues. Professionally I consider it key to be part of the ICON Textile Group and I am eager to be involved more actively with the Group.  In consequence, I would like to take the opportunity to offer my candidature for an Events position in the ICON Textile Group Committee. I believe my experience, organisation skills and enthusiasm will be useful to help organising exciting events in the future and to keep with the high standards currently being carried out by the Committee.”


Emily Austin studied Costume Design at undergraduate level at Edinburgh College of Art, and began her textile conservation career studying MPhil Textile Conservation at the Centre for Textile Conservation, University of Glasgow.  After graduating in 2014, she gained a place as an ICON intern for a one year post at The Bowes Museum in County Durham. Following this, she held a short post at Imperial War Museums as the sole conservator preparing textile objects for the opening of the new American Air Museum based at IWM Duxford, and worked in Doha, Qatar for 18 months preparing objects for the new national museum and working on several projects within the wider Qatar Museums institution.  Since returning to the UK, she has held several short term positions including at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and as a freelance conservator in collaboration with Zenzie Tinker Conservation Ltd and Plowden and Smith Ltd.  She started her current role as textile conservator at the Museum of London in April 2018, and is looking forward to being involved in many upcoming projects including the planned museum move to a new site at Smithfield’s Market.

“I would like to be considered for the ICON Textile Group committee as an event coordinator. As I recently returned to the UK, I believe this is an ideal time for me to become more involved with the Textile group. I would like the opportunity to create a wider network within the UK conservation field and having secured a permanent post based in London I feel I am in a well located position to do this.  I would like the opportunity to continue the excellent work of the current committee members by giving my time and energy into creating useful and enjoyable events for members of the group. I believe it is important to have events and training which appeal to conservators working within a museum setting and also freelance conservators, which I would fully support should I gain a place on the committee.”


Viola Nicastro obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree in textile conservation from Centro Conservazione e Restauro la Venaria Reale, University of Turin, Italy (2007-2013). Her training gave her a theoretical background in history, science and conservation ethics as well as practical experience on tapestry, flat textiles, carpets, costumes, and leather objects, of which she has worked both at university as well as during summer work placements in Italian Institutions (ISCR and Quirinale Palace - Rome). Following her training, Viola worked at the Centro Conservazione e Restauro la Venaria Reale in Turin and at the Museo del Tessuto of Prato as a freelance textile conservator, as well as contributing to installation of costumes and other objects for exhibition. In April 2014, she joined the Vatican Museum textile conservation studio, where she worked as an intern focusing mainly on tapestry conservation. In September 2014, she joined Historic Royal Palaces where she currently works. Having been part of the tapestry and furnishings team, she now part of the costume team since 2017, focusing mainly on exhibition work as well as treatment of costumes. At Historic Royal Palaces, she additionally helps to coordinate functions safely from a conservation point of view, working collaboratively with the functions and events and operations team, which has helped her to develop a good problem-solving attitude.

“I have been living in the UK since September 2014 and have been actively following the activities of the ICON Textile Group as a member, as well as participating in forums and events. I have also attended other conferences and conservation events back in Italy and in the UK, and have recently attended the ICOM-CC conference in Copenhagen as a speaker. I think it would be very exciting for me to help run the events and experience it from a different perspective, as well as sharing ideas and gaining new skills. I think my personality would fit the position well as I have a friendly attitude and really enjoy dealing with people, as well as having sound organisational skills. I am comfortable in producing digital content and have attended photography courses, which would be handy for creating content for promoting events thorough social media platforms. Having worked in the same organisation for a while, I believe that being part of the committee will give me the opportunity to meet other fellow professionals that are working in the UK and enlarge my network as well as exchanging knowledge and experience. I am motivated in giving an active contribution to ICON and would welcome the opportunity to discuss personally how I can best serve the committee.”



Dr Karen Finch OBE, 8th May 1921 – 15th April 2018

I am very sorry to pass on the news that Karen died peacefully, at home, on Sunday 15 April. 

Frances Lennard wrote:

Karen’s legacy is tremendous – she made a huge contribution to the establishment of the field of textile conservation in the UK and worldwide. Well over 100 students completed the postgraduate diploma offered by the TCC at Hampton Court, and very many more studied on the subsequent MA programme offered by the University of Southampton. Students on the programmes came from almost 40 different countries and now hold positions in museums and private practice in countries all around the world.

Clare Meredith, Chairman of the Textile Conservation Foundation, summed up Karen’s achievements, "It’s hard now to imagine our heritage sector without textile conservators, but that professional community is Karen Finch’s exceptional legacy. Karen was a true pioneer and her vision, over 40 years ago, was to establish the first recognised training course in textile conservation. Her achievements are legendary, but my memories of meeting Karen in recent years are – above all – of the palpable pleasure, interest and pride she took in past and present students.”



Wholesale cosmetic sponges now available from Glocos

As announced at the Icon Textile Forum, Heather Porter has found a wholesale supplier prepared to sell sponges to conservators in smaller amounts than is usually available.  The details are as follows:

Wholesale pack = 100 white hydrophilic foam [poly(ether)urethane] wedges for £8.97 + VAT + shipping

For more details and ordering please contact Robert:

Glocos International Ltd, Fairhavens View, Unit 27a, The Street, South Walsham, Norfolk NR13 6DQ  +44 (0) 1603 270701 

Thanks to Heather for organising this.