Welcome to Icon's student project gallery where you can find information about the projects our student members have completed during their conservation studies
The Icon Student Gallery has been launched to provide Icon Student Members with a platform to showcase the skills they have been developing as part of their studies – taking their work from the studio floor into the wider world.
The idea sprang from a conversation between Sara Crofts, Icon Chief Executive, and Alex Owen, a furniture conservator at the British Museum and former Chair of Icon’s Furniture and Wooden Objects Group (FWOG) during a group event. Finding ways to support students facing the challenges of the pandemic lockdowns was a key driver to put the idea into action.
Suddenly, all of the institutional doors were bolted and there were none of the usual degree shows. We realised that lockdown had reduced the opportunities for students to demonstrate their achievements but the move to digital platforms showed us that there might be other ways we could help students to showcase their projects.
Alex Owen also thought the Student Project Gallery could provide clear scope to raise the profile of student research across the board:
‘Such a great deal of research is carried out by conservation students that is never made accessible to the wider conservation community,’ he explains – even though this research involves ‘hundreds of hours of work, heaps of innovation, and some really interesting ideas.’
In this light, the Gallery provides a venue to retain these ideas, in an accessible format that can provide inspiration for others grappling with similar questions.
The result was a new addition to the Icon website, fully accessible to one and all but with templates in the backend to help Icon Student members consider their projects and structure content in a resulting layout that is ‘stylish and looks professional,’ as Icon Student member Alice Law commented. Alice was struck by the wider impact her profile could have on the Icon website:
Since my undergraduate degree I’ve had an interest in making Heritage accessible to wider audiences. This was a brilliant opportunity to both write informally and also to share the work I have done in my first steps as a member of the conservation community.
The idea was also welcomed by Icon Student member Stefanie Muller of Durham University, who was the first to launch a profile. For Stefanie, the Gallery offered a valuable chance to communicate her experience to potential employers, alongside the usual methods.
I like the option to link my profile to my LinkedIn site as this gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about my work experience. It is a digital version of a portfolio, so to say.
It is this aspect that has been most welcomed by conservation employers, such as Abigail Bainbridge ACR of Bainbridge Conservation. When hiring conservators, she says,
I really like to see that recent grads are engaged with the professional body. It shows they’re serious about their work. It really helps to get a broader sense of what they can do.
In this way, the Gallery provides a helpful supplement to what is said on a CV.
Icon Chief Executive Sara Crofts also points to the legacy the Gallery can leave to benefit the profession:
As successive years of student projects are added to the gallery, it also gives us the potential to use them as an engagement tool to showcase the value of conservation and attract people into the profession.
The project helps to ensure that every generation of conservation students can leave their mark, and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.