Lauren has asked me to continue on with the blog posts so you’re all stuck with me for the foreseeable future, and from what I’ve heard, we have some serious catching up to do with the Project Joinery Team’s blog posts (ours will be even more fabulous)! I started volunteering at Mount Stewart just three months ago, but in that time I have met some lovely people (I’ll get everyone’s names right in the end!) and learned some interesting conservation techniques. It’s been a while since I have written anything like this so bear with me; I’m a little bit rusty!
I’ll begin with an introduction to the Project Conservation Volunteers:
Firstly I should mention Christina, Project Conservation Assistant, who co-ordinates us all…and offers us seats when we’re looking a bit fatigued! Below is a photo taken at our Mad Hatters Tea Party and you can see some of us looking very happy to be enjoying some tea, buns and cakes.
Others whom either aren’t to be found in the photo or were unable to attend the tea party are as follows; Rebecca, Valerie, Martin, Freda, Heather, Paul, Allen, Elayne, Connie, Drew, Christine, Colette, Moira…..
(That’s everybody named but yet to be shamed! Or, as Lauren has previously mentioned, praised! Come and find me if I’ve left anyone out…and be gentle!).
There is an average of three or four volunteers every day at Mount Stewart and they are immensely invaluable, especially during this huge project. We managed 300 voluntary hours in March of this year and 287 in April, that’s a great deal of spare time! The Mad Hatters Tea Party was held as a thank you to the team for their hard work and the fact that they keep coming back, no matter how much of a ‘slave driver’ Lauren can be (we all know she’s actually really nice and sometimes even brings cake)!
Tea and cakes aside, we volunteers get involved in various training sessions which have helped mould us into the wonderful, well-rounded conservation assistants that we are…or will be soon! The training I have received to date has included the identification, documentation and conservation cleaning of painting and picture frames. It sounds boring but I can assure you it is very interesting. Getting to see a painting up close is terrific; we can spot things that might otherwise have been missed!
In addition to the volunteer positions the National Trust also offers six to eight week placements for students studying conservation, the most recent student at Mount Stewart being Rebecca Gee all the way from the London Metropolitan College!
Rebecca worked alongside Fergus, our accredited furniture conservator, carrying out conservation cleaning of the Saloon floor and skirting boards discovered by the joiners behind some panelling in Lord Londonderry’s Sitting Room, one of many interesting finds during the project! Rebecca also cleaned the frame of the Annunciation painting from the Chapel. She was a great asset to team! We were sad to see her go at the end of her placement but we wish her all the best with the completion of her course in furniture conservation.
That’s all from me, over and out!