Winners announced for the first ever Marsh Awards for Conservation

Icon has partnered with Marsh Charitable Trust to present three new awards for the conservation and restoration of objects and collections

12 May 2023


Much of the important work that conservators and heritage scientists do is hidden from public view, which in turn means that the associated benefits of this work often go unrecognised and are therefore not as highly valued as they should be.

In our continued efforts to raise the profile of those working in cultural heritage, Icon is thrilled to have partnered with the Marsh Charitable Trust to launch three new awards that will help to ensure that the work of conservation professionals is better recognised and more fully respected.

The awards were presented at Icon's 2023 Members' Meeting on 11 May by Marsh Charitable Trust ambassador Peter Anwyl-Harris and Icon outgoing Interim Chair Sophie Rowe ACR.

The winners are:


Marsh Award: Conservation in Action

Winner: Mary Evans, Icon Pathway member

Project role: Volunteer Conservation Lead and Training Coordinator

Project outline: First large-scale condition survey of a 300-year-old collection, library and archive owned by Spalding Gentlemen’s Society 

Marsh Awards: Mary Evans 2.JPG


Established over 300 years ago, Spalding Gentlemen’s Society has an extensive collection held in its museum, library and archive. Despite the cultural significance of many of its objects, the collection has never been formally reviewed and conservation work has been minimal. 

As the Society is a small, volunteer-led organisation, it appealed for volunteers to help conserve and safely store its collection. Conservator Mary Evans, who had previously supported the Society with smaller projects, offered to volunteer her time and expertise to help coordinate and train a team of volunteers to condition check, clean, stabilise and pack the artefacts in coordination with the Society’s honorary curator and librarian. 

After 18-months under her tutelage, Mary’s team of volunteers – with ages ranging from 16 to 90+ – are already making excellent progress and the project has increased heritage engagement and developed a valuable feeling of health and social wellbeing in the process for all those involved. The project has also provided material to use constructively on social media and the Society’s website, helping to promote the value of conservation in the preservation of heritage, appeal to a younger audience, and to show that this work is more than just an academic exercise. 


Finalist: Project Team, English Heritage Trust
Project: Belsay Awakes
Project outline: An English Heritage and National Lottery Heritage Funded project at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland, encompassing reroofing the Hall, maintenance work to the Hall and Castle, a new café, a playpark, and major landscaping to the gardens and carparking area, improving access and new interpretation throughout.

Finalist: Project Team, National Trust
Project: Constable Revealed
Project outline: The conservation treatment of John Constable’s The Opening of Waterloo Bridge. The project was undertaken in front of the public and created an opportunity for Sarah Maisey (Senior Remedial Conservator, Paintings) to engage with renowned experts, film production companies and National Trust staff and volunteers, enabling the dissemination of key messages.


Marsh Award: Early Career Conservator

Winner: Marina Herriges, Conservator, Icon Pathway member
Project role: Co-Investigator/Research Assistant, University of Glasgow
Project outline: Embedding environmental sustainability for active learning and student engagement in textile conservation

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This project grew out of Marina’s dissertation research (MPhil Textile Conservation 2020) ‘Challenges in textile conservation: sustainability as key for the profession to move forward’.

The goals of the project were to embed sustainable practices in the MPhil Textile Conservation programme at the University of Glasgow and to foster an awareness in students that they can take into the wider profession through their placements, dissertation research and future work.

The project was developed as a collaboration between Karen Thompson, other teaching staff and students on the MPhil Textile Conservation Programme, and Marina, as an external partner. As a recent graduate of the programme, she brought knowledge and understanding of sustainable practices and experiences, demonstrating the important contribution that can be made by emerging conservators, both as a role model in leadership and an advocate for sustainable practices.

Marina identified and led opportunities for wider engagement in events and publications, providing students the opportunity to contribute to external facing activities. This included her leading the COP26 Edit-a-thon, which resulted in a related blog post and article for IIC. Marina, Karen and a student representative presented this work at the University’s Learning and Teaching Conference in March 2022. In collaboration with Karen, Marina has also written a paper submitted for ICOM-CC 2023 and will present it on behalf of the project team.


2023 Marsh Award: Research in Conservation

Winner: Dr David Thickett
Project role: Senior Conservation Scientist, English Heritage
Project outline: Showcase research and development

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Throughout his career, Dr David Thickett’s research has advanced our understanding of showcases and their use with collections. This has included assessing the effectiveness of the existing showcase designs, testing cases to determine their performance, and investigating new designs and methods to improve their efficacy in protecting collections.

Aware that the wrong case design or materials can increase deterioration to the collections inside, while working at the British Museum, David further developed the 3-in-1 Oddy test method to help mitigate pollution risks to objects inside showcases. Many years later, he continues to assess the Oddy test methodology and to share this knowledge with others, so that the test and its results can be widely applied.

David’s research has also led to the development of a practical way of measuring air exchange rates (AERs) in showcases. It is now standard practice at English Heritage (EH) and many other institutions to test the AER of all showcases. His research in this area has provided valuable evidence for showcase specifications and technical requirements - knowledge that has been used with showcase manufacturers to develop a standard for the design of showcases.


Highly Commended: Kate Jennings, Icon Associate member  Project role: Metalwork Conservation Subject Leader, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation Project outline: Replicating Old Sheffield Plate. This collaborative project benefited both the Winterthur Institute at the University of Delaware and West Dean College students, helping them to learn the nuanced process of fused silver plating.

Marsh Awards Kate Jennings.JPG


Icon is grateful to the Marsh Charitable Trust, the judges, colleagues who made nominations, and everyone else who supported these awards.


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