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Tru Vue Blog: 22nd IIWC International Symposium

karen_dundas.jpg​Karen Dundas ACR was awarded an Icon Tru Vue CPD grant to take part in the 22nd IIWC International Symposium and course on Wooden Heritage Conservation: Beyond Disciplines which took place in Bilbao and San Sebastian in September and October this year. 


As a freelance wallpaintings conservator in Scotland I often carry out remedial treatment on decoratively painted panels and beams. While my focus is usually on paintwork, a review of early restoration treatments on historic timber substrates is well overdue.

In order to learn about materials that respect 16th century timbers, but also the aesthetic integrity of the building, I attended an ICOMOS/IIWC wood conservation symposium last year. The event was so inspiring that I decided to present a paper at the next IIWC symposium in 2019. 

delegates_erika_koshi_suheyla_koc_and_karen_dundas.jpgDelegates Erika Koshi, Suheyla Koc and Karen Dundas

The 2019 ‘beyond disciplines’ symposium provided a forum for the exchange of intervention methodologies across a broad spectrum of disciplines including carpenters, conservation architects, archaeologists, wood scientists, administrators and heritage stakeholders. This was the perfect venue to outline concerns from a wallpainting conservator’s perspective, and the subsequent wood conservation course allowed me to consolidate what I had learned so far and continue discussions with international wood experts. The event has improved my awareness of techniques and materials for timber repair, allowing me to make informed treatment decisions and to work collaboratively with skilled carpenters back in Scotland.

This international event highlighted the global concern for forestry management and maintenance, and the need for governing bodies to regulate to ensure long-term availability of timber stocks. Some countries (e.g. Sweden) have had laws in place for many years to ensure that historic timbers that have been removed from buildings are saved, recorded and stored for future re-use and/or dendrochronology research.

learning_about_boat_building_basque_maritime_museum_in_bilbao.jpgLearning about boat building, Basque Maritime Museum in Bilbao​

There was a strong emphasis on the importance of emerging professionals’ participation in ICOMOS/IIWC. Suheyla Koc, a young Turkish conservation architect who was representing the emerging professionals group, gave a talk about the need to update ICOMOS’ definition of ‘authenticity’ in reference to timber heritage. This is an concept that must recognise and respect cultural differences, particularly in view of recent fires at the Macintosh School of Art (Glasgow, Scotland), Kizhi Pogost church (Karelia State, Russia), and Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris, France).

Thanks to a generous Icon Tru Vue CPD grant, I have benefitted enormously from attending this event, and intend to raise awareness of suitable conservation methods and wood repair during my annual guest lecture for students on Historic Environment Scotland’s post-graduate building conservation course. This will allow me to share what I have learned with the next generation of building conservation experts in Scotland.


The latest round of Tru Vue funding is now open to applicants, please visit the Icon Grants pages for further information. 

All images: Karen Dundas ACR


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