February 2013 | Stephanie Vuillemenot, Conservation Intern

Being an ICON intern funded by HLF and supervised by Paine and Stewart on this great project which is the conservation of the west wall of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College has been a unique opportunity to get an insight into the work of a team of conservators in a historical building.

Team work is a fundamental element in this project; since we all work on the same painting, it is important to communicate, ask questions when a doubt arise, and discuss particular issues. In my opinion, it is the best way of learning. This internship is a great chance to work with people from different backgrounds and with varied experience. Steven Paine and Sophie Stewart have given me the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills, from examination and documentation to practical work and technical analysis on a major wall painting, in the best working conditions possible. Francesco Rosselini and Carla Benincasa-Markland are very supportive, always open to discussion when a particular issue arises, taking time to explain and show me the different procedures which need to be carried out, and encouraging me to think for myself in terms of what needs to be treated. Working with other interns is also an occasion to confront different knowledge, as we all have different backgrounds.

Besides the fact that working in such an amazing environment is very inspiring, this internship constitutes a fundamental step in pursuing a career in paintings conservation, after completing my academic path which started with a Bachelor in History of Art and History at the University of Geneva, followed by a Master in History of Art in the same institution, and a MA in Conservation of Fine Art, Specialism Easel Paintings at Northumbria University, and undertaking several work placements in England.

Moreover, this project has also been an occasion to work with professionals holding other posts, in particular the learning and development team, since I have had the chance to assist in guiding school groups up the scaffolding and explain to them the particularities of the conservators’ work in the Painted Hall.

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