Nele is a student of the University of Antwerp, where she is currently studying for an MA in Conservation and Restoration. Wishing to gain some experience with leather and organic materials, Nele is spending eight weeks working between the National Leather Collection, Leather Conservation Centre and Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. She is currently at Northampton Museum for a 7 day work experience.
Here is her Blog of her time at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery
The journey continues with a 7-day work experience at the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery. I will be carrying various tasks under the supervision of Rebecca Shawcross, senior shoe conservator, who has been building up knowledge for the past 20 years on Northampton’s various shoes and shoemakers.
My first day at Northampton Museum, Tuesday, started with a tour of the store room. There are literally rows and rows of shoes, I could not wait to dive into the collection! But first things first, the staff meeting. Every week, on Tuesday morning, there is a staff meeting and since the exhibitions for the new museum were going to be discussed, Rebecca thought it would be nice for me to sit in on this one. And let us be honest, who does not like a sneak peek behind the scenes? After the meeting it was finally time to browse through the collection, I had been giving the task to locate a list of items that had been selected for the new shoe gallery. There is no better way to get to know the collection!
On Wednesday, I got to make a selection of jewelled heels for the new shoe gallery. I went through every box searching for the prettiest pairs and came up with a, though I say so myself, a varied, colourful and eye drawing selection. The afternoon was spent locating items that would go on loan to Fairfax House, whilst doing so, I came across a variety of shoes. From modern day, quite modest footwear to more extravagant and marvellous pairs of shoes to beautifully embroidered silk shoes from the 17th and 18th century and to even a pair of pink kinky boots.
The work on the loan to Fairfax House continued on Thursday. Every item that goes on loan needs be condition checked, so I spent most of the day examining the items up close and writing condition reports on them. What I particularly like about it, is that you are given time to investigate up close, to see perhaps signs of pests and what I am always very interested in, previous restorations. It is very interesting to see how approaches towards restoration of objects change over the years. In the afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Norma Pierson, someone who has been very active in cultural heritage and who has been so kind to donate a few much loved items, amongst which a few designs of Vivienne Westwood. It is always a pleasure of knowing the story behind every piece clothing and knowing the memories attached to it.
On Friday, I had the pleasure of processing a donation of shoes by Andrew Roberts, now retired after working in the family shoe shop, David Roberts, for over 50 years located in Llandudno, Wales. The two big boxes in which the donation was sent to the museum were standing in the office, grabbing my attention every time I saw them and making me wonder what exactly was in there. So I had the pleasure of opening every box (no less than 38 of them!) and seeing what was inside, I made a list of all the items and checked the condition of every object, paying special attention to signs of pests and how fragile the object is. With one box still waiting to be unpacked, I will continue the processing of the donation on Monday, I can’t wait to see what treasures are hidden inside!