BA (Hons) Conservation Studies
The course is a three-years full-time leading to a BA (Hons) degree validated by the Birmingham City University, Birmingham, U.K. Concentrating on the conservation and restoration of 3-D objects made of stone/stone related, wood/wood related materials such as plaster, terracotta, lacquer and japanning with particular attention paid to gilded and painted surfaces. Set within the context of the City & Guilds of London Art School, the course is uniquely placed to provide students with traditional skills, such as life drawing, stone and wood carving and gilding all of which are essential in developing the aesthetic awareness necessary for the informed practice of conservation. The course integrates these skills with the technical skills and theoretical knowledge required for the preservation and reinstatement of works of art.
First year studies consist of seven Modules. Foundation Skills Modules integrate parts of the Historical Stone Carving and Ornamental Wood Carving programmes. These modules include the study of stone and wood decoration, ornament forms, gilding, lacquer and japanning techniques, lime modeling and plaster casting. Students participate in Drawing Studio classes, making studies both from life and from inanimate objects. Starting from the spring term students concentrate on study of such subjects as conservation ethics, history and philosophy of conservation, legislations and health&safety. Stone conservation, chemistry and materials science are covered by the Conservation Science Module. In conjunction with conservation training students study the history of art and decorative styles with emphasis on the history of sculpture and architecture. At the end of the first year students develop manual and observational skills, knowledge of basic chemistry and materials and an understanding of the development of historical techniques.
Second year students are introduced to modern conservation techniques, including laser cleaning technique in relation to stone, wood and frame conservation, materials science, the theory of colour and polychromy, microscopy of cross-sections and such analytical techniques as IR spectroscopy and mass-spectrometry. The study of chemistry of cleaning and an introduction to the behavior and mechanisms of the deterioration of materials is complimented by the extensive practical experience provided by the School's association with various museums and organisations. During the second year students are taught task skills and management, including contingency planning, the significance of conservation and restoration work, and their responsibilities as practitioners.
All second year students are required to undertake a summer placement in museums or private conservation practices. Recent host institutions include the V&A Museum, the British Museum, the Tate Gallery, the Conservation Centre of the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (Liverpool), the National Gallery of Art Washington DC, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum in Iceland, the Science Museum, London, the Museum of London, the Royal Palaces Collection, the Natural History Museum, the Watt's Gallery and the Wallace Collection.
Third year students write a substantial independent research project under the supervision of a School tutor s and in collaboration with the Materials Department at Imperial College London. The projects are based on the students' practical work and their personal research interests. All students undertake practical work on up to three 3-D objects that are traditionally provided by such institutions as English Heritage, St Paul's Cathedral, the Tate Gallery, the Foundling Museum, the Natural History Museum or by private collectors. As part of the practical work, students are also required to study the appropriate historical and social backgrounds of objects in their care, in order to provide an informed context for their practical skills.