I’m loving angels instead







It seems like only a moment since I was posting my Christmas message in December 2018. This year has flown by and has been full of fantastic projects, engaging and complex assessments and some great collaborations.  At the end of 2019 I look back with such gratitude to all those clients who use the conservation and preservation services I provide, and who continue to surprise me with wonderful projects, some exciting new challenges and fantastic company and inspiration on my travels around the UK.

I have worked extensively with other professionals to deliver some great results for collections and clients, including digital photographer Colin Dunn of Scriptura , Bridget Mitchell of Arca Preservation, the ever-wonderful Packaging and Delivery team at the Bodleian Library and Sara Stoll, a frames conservator and gilder.  I have travelled well over 10,000 miles, spent several weeks working in an underground missile silo, numerous days in castle towers and many hours in cathedral and college libraries. I have crawled under tables and shelving units, teetered on ladders with a hoover strapped to my back and driven several vans around the south east on collection runs. I have looked at hundreds of data logger graphs, dozens of grisly bug traps and have used the phrase ‘A light logger may be a good idea for here’ more often than I would like. I have spoken to groups up and down the country, have presented several conference papers and workshops and have spent many happy hours consolidating some good relationships and making many more. And it has all been great – thank you.

In the summer I spent two weeks in Italy, immersing myself in Renaissance art. Angels were everywhere, and although it was taken in the blazing heat of an Italian July here is my favourite for you this Christmas, courtesy of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

A very merry Christmas to all my clients, friends and colleagues, and best wishes for a  happy and peaceful new year.


Alpine winter greetings this Christmas

You will rightly surmise by the shameful infrequency of my 2018 posts, and especially in the second half of the year, just what an exciting and busy time it has been in the last 12 months. Thankfully, the business continues to flourish since my leap into full time private practice almost two years ago, for which I am incredibly grateful. Thank you to all who have helped me on my way.

I have been very fortunate to work on some wonderful collections and material, both for institutional clients as well as some very personal objects for private individuals. The ongoing conservation of a series of late C19th and C20th diaries has a foot in both of these camps.

These nine stationery volumes, all in plain Oxford blue half leather bindings, contain a detailed record of visitors to the Chalet des Anglais, a traditional property high in the Mont Blanc range. It was originally built in the 1860s by the Urquart family and bequeathed for the joint use of Balliol, New and University College Oxford students as a place for summer reading and study parties by Francis Urquart, Fellow and Dean of Balliol, or Sligger as he was affectionately known.







Each party was, and still is, required to keep a diary of their time in the Chalet providing a history of its occupancy and use but also a record of changing times, attitudes and fashions.







The heavy use of the books over the years has taken its toll on their condition, as well as some temporary ‘in the field’ fixes involving diverse mending solutions such as sellotape and Elastoplast which, although they have maintained the completeness of the record have done little for the material stability. A campaign is underway to fund the current and ongoing conservation of the books for digitisation and future use as research materials.

Many renowned alumni visited the Chalet as students including subsequent Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. This entry for 1900 provides two very famous names, with Roger Casement and Gertrude Bell visiting the Chalet that year.


It is Gertrude Bell’s photography skills that provide us with this rather beautiful image of Mont Blanc showing untouched snow and shadow.

I hope all my clients, both past and present, had a very happy Christmas, and send my very best wishes for the New Year. I look forward to working with you all in 2019.


My sincere thanks to Stephen Golding of The Chalet Trust for allowing me to use these images.

Christmas greetings from the Holy Land

At this time of year, it is appropriate that I should be involved in the conservation of Harris Manchester College’s copy David Robert’s Sketches of the Holy Land and Syria along with its companion volume for Egypt and Nubia.

Based on drawings made by Roberts during his travels in the region in 1839, this impressively proportioned elephant folio volume is lavishly illustrated with some exceptionally fine and evocative lithographs of significant sites in the region. The image of as yet un-excavated monuments such as the Sphinx are quite remarkable, and let us see very clearly an area that in some cases has changed beyond all recognition or ancient sites that are, alas, no longer there. This is the second copy of this book that I have conserved and it never fails to be a fascinating object to work on, such is the intricacy and perfect perspective of Roberts’s work and the beauty and precision of the lithographs.

For Christmas I bring you Roberts’s drawing of the the Shrine of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Although not the most beautiful or exciting image it is definitely the most appropriate for the time of year. I wish you and all my clients past and present a very merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year.


My many thanks to Harris Manchester College Library for allowing me to use the image.