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Tru Vue Blog: ICOM-CC Textiles Working Group Interim Meeting 2019

Melangell Penrhys is Regional Conservator, The National Trust, West Midlands and Preventive Conservation consultant for a portfolio of National Trust properties. She was given a Tru Vue grant towards attending the ICOM-CC Textiles Working Group Interim Meeting 2019, hosted by the Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg,  20 – 21 June 2019 . 


The theme of the conference was: ‘A Challenging Dimension: The Conservation and Research of Costume and Accessories’. I had been asked to present for this conference having spent a nearly a year working on the conservation and reconstruction of an 18th century court mantua belonging to Berrington Hall, a Georgian mansion and National Trust property in Herefordshire.

With the team at the property the project had involved addressing how the mantua, which came to the property from auction in 10 pieces could be made relevant and engaging to all today’s visitors. Key to the success of the collaborative project was working with a researcher and replica maker of 18th Century dress, Michelle Barker, from Handbound Costumes and this collaboration yielded a richness of understanding and experience in this project that enabled me to do complete justice to the garment that was recreated out of the pieces. The project was carried out over the course of 9 months in front of visitors at Berrington Hall.


Michelle and I are co-authors working from different areas in the UK of the Abegg Stiftung a renowned training and research centre for textile conservation.

The conference was packed with interesting papers from conservators and other collaborators from all over the globe. It was a very stimulating and thought provoking conference with old faces to reconnect with and new inspiring projects to find out about.

mp3.jpg​​​The completed mantua - the project presented at the conference.

Presenting at an international conference taught me to understand my work must be accessible to everyone in the room, with first languages that were not necessarily English. I have also presented to my professional colleagues in the region who work in a variety of areas in the National Trust, such as retail, building surveying, visitor experience, curating and volunteering and I adapted the presentation to be able to speak to other professionals about collections conservation work.

I am lucky to have worked on such an extraordinary gown as the Berrington Hall court mantua and we are currently writing up a full paper on it. I also felt very lucky to be at the Abegg Stiftung, once the hailstorm with stones the size of golf balls was over on our first day! I am very grateful to Icon Tru Vue grant for the assistance in attending this conference and to the Midlands Region of the National Trust for allowing me the time and funding.


Images, Melangell Penrhys 


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