Icon Conference 2022: Reaching Out for Recognition

The Icon Conference returns on 24th & 25th May 2022

The Icon Conference 2022: Reaching out for Recognition will be coming directly to your home or workplace on 24 and 25 May, connecting you with people based all around the world via Zoom!

Taking place over two afternoons, this virtual event will be an online celebration of recognition and collaboration. Be inspired by (captioned) talks from people shaping the future of conservation. Themed breakout sessions will also allow you to hear about everyone's own experiences trying out new ideas in times of uncertainty and change.

 #IconReachOut22 will be the parallel student-led Twitter conference, held each morning.  All projects, ideas and opinions on the theme are welcome.

The Programme 

Day 1

RECOGNITION: how conservation is recognised and valued by others, and importantly how we value our own work of ourselves and each other.

Day 1 Chair: Steve Clare ACR

Welcome & Introductions: 1.00pm - 1.20pm

Introduction, Steve Clare ACR

Opening Remarks, Sara Crofts, Icon Chief Executive

Session 1: Building Networks, 1.20pm - 2.45pm

Keynote: "Recognition", Professor Jane Henderson ACR

This paper celebrates the conference theme of recognition. It explores how conservators can seek recognition but identifies this less in the insistence of our own demands and more in a recognition of other people’s needs and wants. In the paper I call for conservators to recognise the imbalances and inequities underpinning much of work in the cultural heritage sector and the place of conservation and neutrality within that. I examine the recognition I've had for my colleagues in museums in Wales and ask what the basis of that recognition has been. Focusing, in particular, on shared goals and outcomes. Looking back over the last two years and our ability to deal with changing times I look at the positive steps and focus on growth that we can use as a means to go forward.

"The C Word Podcast", Jenny Mathiasson & Kloe Rumsey

We had very straightforward goals in the early days of the podcast. We wanted to talk about the profession we loved, and we hoped that some other people would like to talk to us about it as well. Through the unbelievable support of the heritage community worldwide our show has become much more, from a platform for sharing work, to a learning resource for students, to a platform for outreach and advocacy within the profession and without.

Podcasting was certainly not a new medium of communication, but it was new to conservation, and now The C Word Podcast sits alongside other collections care podcasts, YouYube channels, Instagram accounts, and TikTok accounts. All accessed by different audiences and for different reasons. From a 10 season pipe dream 5 years ago we now kick off season 11, and we, the podcast, and our careers, have changed a lot in that time. So what have we learned? And what would we like to change for the next 10 seasons?

"Networking and Heritage Preservation: APOYOnline, Building Bridges and Creating Paths of Integration in the Americas", Beatriz Haspo

In regions with great social, economic, environmental, and cultural inequality, such as Latin America and the Caribbean, the efforts of regional networks have become even more critical to enhance professional development in heritage preservation aiming to value cultures, ancestors and cultural patrimony, while empowering and transforming the community to which they belong.

Created in 1989 APOYOnline - Association for Heritage Preservation of the Americas, formerly APOYO, is a non-profit grassroots organization incorporated in USA, which has been building communication bridges and promoting professional development and especial initiatives that foster integration and cultural equity in the field of heritage preservation in the Americas and Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries through the work of hundreds of volunteers. Our network includes more than 6,000 members from the most diverse areas of cultural heritage.

Our core programs include professional development, access to technical information through translations of reference material, strengthening regional connections through regional conferences and special initiatives, and the scholarship program for students and emerging professionals.

This presentation highlights APOYOnline’s trajectory and impact. It reflects on sustainable preservation, resilience, collaborative process for information access fostering local and regional development and how individuals and social perspectives are empowered and transformed through connections and participatory engagement.

Session 2: International Collaboration in Times of Crisis, 2.55pm - 3.35pm

“Networking and collaboration for Emergency response: the Ukraine conflict case“, Donatella Banti

The brutal conflict in Ukraine has not only created a humanitarian disaster but has also targeted Ukrainian cultural institutions and heritage sites.

With the support of ICON a group of volunteers has come together to respond to the crisis in Ukraine and, where possible, offer help from the UK. The group, working since the beginning of March through a shared online platform, is divided into three main threads: Guidance, Material Aid and Sponsorships, and is run entirely by volunteers in their spare time. This short talk will highlight successes and a few challenges that such a model may present.

Virtual Roundtable Discussion

Session 3: Opportunities, 3.50pm - 5.00pm

"Art Conservation During the Pandemic", Dr Padma M. Rohilla

The world is experiencing COVID-19 pandemic that has brought new challenges to conserving cultural heritage. Institutions across the world continue to learn new ways to adapt and cope in the face of ongoing uncertainty. The presentation will discuss the challenges faced by conservation laboratories during the lockdown. The pandemic challenges included the inability of the conservators to continue practical work in the lab as well as the concerns over the well-being of the art without physical monitoring. The pandemic pause however opened new opportunities that resulted in communication and activities through online content platforms such as zoom, virtual tours and YouTube channels. One learning opportunity proved successful for INTACH was the ‘Conservation Insights 2020 Lecture series’. This was an effort to seek out conservation community online, to interact with and learn from peers and stay connected.

"Conserving the Curious Cabinet: Impact Heritage CIC working with the Charterhouse Community", Ann-Marie Miller ACR and Samantha Hare

Impact heritage CIC is a not-for-profit conservation company set up in lockdown to help broaden the impact of conservation knowledge and funding. Our aim is to facilitate access to funding opportunities for community collections. The Charterhouse is a very special place, a functioning almshouse as well as a museum and archive with which has a broad online community. We identified a project focusing on the contents of a cupboard in the Treasury which houses 90+ prayer books, dating back to 1549.  The project is led by graduate conservator, Samantha Hare, mentored by the team at Impact Heritage. Work begins with a comprehensive survey, assessing the bindings and their current condition. Then they will be cleaned, stabilised, rehoused and remedial conservation treatment targeted at the most damaged 5-10 volumes. Video content will be created, documenting their journey and made available on social media and the Impact Heritage website. We initially applied for funding to the Arts Council Project fund in the summer of 2021 and were unsuccessful. Our paper will look at how we adapted the project funding application to create more opportunities for community engagement. This included improved provision for video, drop-in sessions, volunteer training and online creative writing workshops. 

Introduction to the Twitter Conference & Closing Remarks, Steve Clare ACR

Day 2

REACHING OUT: Celebrating how we are reaching out and collaborating with communities, artists and individuals beyond the conservation sector, and the impact that this is having. 

Day 2 Chair: Dr Duygu Çamurcuoğlu ACR

Session 4: Outreach, 1.15pm - 2.15pm

"Conservation for Wellbeing (C4W)", Laura Drysdale & Helen Lindsay ACR

C4W worked with a small group of participants supported by SMART experiencing complex mental health to explore concepts of care, protection and damage through the lens of how we look after objects. 5 in-person workshops were delivered before lockdown struck in March 2020, with 5 more plus 2 follow-up sessions held online. Using mental health archives, participants were introduced to basic conservation and preservation activities.
Evaluation led by art therapist Daisy Rubinstein explored how participants associated conservation techniques with other skilled processes they had encountered throughout their lives. The need for care-taking of historic objects was linked to the need to take care of one another, and heritage collections and archives evoked hidden, lost or salvaged material, somewhat in parallel with the internal, hidden or emerging unconscious. Wellbeing outcomes included improved mental stimulation, mood benefits, satisfaction with completing tasks, and the expansion of horizons. 
Participants described how feeling welcome in the LMA space and gaining access to the specialist knowledge within the project contributed to a broader sense of their own autonomy in learning and engaging with public resources. The findings suggest potential for innovative collaborations between conservation and mental health sectors. 
The presentation will describe the evolution, delivery and outcomes of the project from the perspectives of the different agencies involved. 

"Engaging the Fleet: Community Involvement in the Conservation of Van de Velde the Younger's Royal Visit to the Fleet", Sarah Maisey ACR and Miranda Brain

Conservation is typically a profession that hides behind the scenes, but for six weeks between October and December 2021, the painting conservation department at Royal Museums Greenwich undertook a Conservation in Action event in the Van de Velde Studio of the Queen’s House. The project involved the retouching of historic damage on Willem Van de Velde, The Younger’s masterpiece, A Royal Visit to the Fleet on the Thames Estuary, 1672, in the room that it is believed the work was likely originally painted and in front of the public. As part of the project, a group of young people from the Royal Borough of Greenwich were invited behind the scenes to take part in a series of workshops and mentoring sessions with conservation and curatorial staff. They produced a series of short films exploring the skills and knowledge required to care for and display a historical painting and revealed personal insights into connections they made with the painting and the conservation process. 

This presentation will explore the logistics of running a public conservation event, as well as how the treatment of this painting enabled us to collaborate with visitors and members of the community.

Session 5: Virtual Tours, 2.30pm - 3.20pm

Virtual Tour

Networking Session 2

Session 6: Dynamic Profession, 3.30pm - 5:00pm

"Taking Art Conservation beyond the lab: Initiatives at The City Palace Museum, Udaipur, India", Anuja Mukherjee & Bhasha Shah

The City Palace Museum, Udaipur is situated in a 450 year old complex displaying the regal collection of the princely state of Mewar. The Museum aims at preserving this heritage and the setting up of a state-of-the-art conservation laboratory is part of this commitment. We believe that conservation should not be limited to the boundaries of the laboratory. It needs support from allies and connect with the people in order to safeguard the cultural heritage. Keeping this in mind, various initiatives have been taken by the Museum such as conducting training programmes for the staff treating them as equal stakeholders in saving our collective heritage and organizing an event ‘Behind the scenes’ for the youth which gave them an understanding of the Museum and related career options.

With a focus on innovating digital presence during the pandemic, a series of videos were shared for audiences at home to safely store and handle personal heritage while on the academic front, a conservation module was conducted virtually using walkthroughs and multimedia making the subject interesting and comprehensible.

Attempts have also been made to share Conservation insights with the Museum visitors through an interactive gallery and hands-on workshop.

All these efforts have been well received by the participants, helped to create an appreciation towards heritage and kindled an interest in the field of conservation

Keynote - "Only Connect: The Wider Value of Conservation in a Changing World", Kate Clark

At a time of conflict and climate change, the need to recognise the value of conservation has never been more apparent, and the need to reach out more urgent. 

We now know that conservation plays an important role in the major social, environmental and cultural issues of our time. At the same time, it is wonderful to see young conservators reaching out beyond the white coat, to engage with communities in new ways, from supporting First Nations and others to give voice to unheard stories to engaging with the climate scientists and policy makers at COP 26. 

Closing Address, James Grierson, Icon Chair


Programme subject to change