Michelle Kirk, MA Conservation Furniture, West Dean College
The generous support from the Anna Plowden Trust enabled me to undertake my studies at West Dean College, completed earlier this year, where I gained the practical, academic and vocational experience necessary to begin a career in conservation.
This intensive training has been an exceptional opportunity for me, working on objects from West Dean House, National Trust and private clients, underpinned with material science and contextual theory. The course also allowed me to undertake several work placements, including at Edinburgh's Musical Instrument Museum and Knole House. Project highlights include a 17th-century marquetry mirror from Petworth House, a group preventive conservation project on West Dean’s Nuremberg Doll’s House, extracurricular courses in electrochemistry and plastics conservation, and a placement at Brighton Royal Pavilion, where I worked on the decorative surfaces of a Robert Jones cabinet for the newly restored Saloon Room.
I have now secured the position of Furniture Conservator for the Royal Household, based at Windsor Castle. This is a fantastic opportunity for me, enabling me to develop my practical conservation skills, and has the added the challenge of conserving furniture used in service.