Cerys Fry (2006) tells us what she has been doing since leaving St James.
Having completed a Masters in Art History followed by a 3 year conservation course at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, Cerys is an Easel Painting Conservator. She is currently carrying out a Fellowship at Stichting Restauratie Atelier Limburg (SRAL) in Maastricht, in the Netherlands, working on two 15th century panels from the Suermondt-Ludwig Collection in Aachen.
‘What I love about my work is that it is full of variety. I have worked on a range of projects, from early 15th century panel paintings to 20th century canvas paintings. I constantly get to be around, handle and understand beautiful artwork and what I enjoy most about what I do is the knowledge that your treatment is preserving a part of social history.
I have worked on many projects abroad and a community project which I particularly enjoyed was working with conservation professionals in Conselheiro Lafaiete, Brazil. This was a project on their main church. I worked alongside community members teaching them how to continue to look after their church when the project was finished. I enjoyed working on a church that was not only aesthetically beautiful and rich in history but also integral to a community. I was also lucky enough to be able to work in India, travelling to Mumbai to document and report on 225 paintings in their Western collection.
I plan to continue my professional training after my Fellowship at SRAL and hope to undertake an internship with an institute in the UK or work in a private studio. Although it is too soon to know what I might specialize in at this point of my career, I do already have an ambition to work in the public sector in a gallery such as the National Gallery or the Tate, where I would be able to develop my growing interest in the technical analysis of paintings.
My advice for a student looking to get into the profession is: do not pigeon hole yourself as a student that is better at either arts or sciences as both are very important to become a conservator in order to develop the practical, technical and theoretical knowledge necessary for a career at the highest level. An average day as a conservator could encompass interventive conservation practice (such as making sure that the paint surface is secure, the canvas is stable, retouching losses etc), preventive conservation and collections management, conservation science and conservation research. Some days might be spent at an easel and others looking under a microscope.
My time at St James definitely developed my love of learning which has propelled me through my studies.’