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Brian

Brian Maxwell

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Queensland Arts - Visual > Ceramics, Pottery And Glass
Arts - Visual > General
The James Love Churchill Fellowship to study plaster conservation methods and materials to raise the standard of conservation in culturally significant buildings - UK, Ireland, Italy
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In 2013 I was privileged to receive a James Love Churchill Fellowship to study Plaster Conservation Methods in the UK and Italy. Specific skills and networking outcomes identified in my application were;

  • Gain a Craftsman’s knowledge;
  • Learn plaster conservation techniques;
  • Learn ornament restoration [and reproduction] techniques;
  • Learn management procedures to maintain and protect [plasterwork];
  • Understand conservation approaches;
  • Interpret [plaster] designs; and
  • Join a network of heritage professionals.

My application additionally highlighted the following outcomes; ‘international exposure to conservation standards, philosophies and practices, explore education programs to the safeguarding of the [traditional] skills that are disappearing.’

As a self employed craftsperson this Fellowship enabled me to travel to the UK and Italy to connect with international and Australian practitioners and researchers to further my practical skills in heritage conservation with the emphasis on understanding traditional plasters, renders and mortars and techniques for plaster casting and mould making. It also enabled me immersion in the concepts of conservation and preventative conservation through dialogue and discussion with heritage practitioners.

Overseas travel remains essential to the development of my professional skills. Australia does not have a heritage plastering tradition and unfortunately those in Australia with traditional skills in the field are rare. On the whole, the Australian heritage sector, is for understandable reasons, much smaller than the European sector where heritage buildings are a huge part of everyday life in many places and where traditions have sometimes endured.

Research to care for and to conserve the traditional plasterwork and renders of Australia’s built heritage to best practice standards, resulted in a journey from 2003 - 2008 when I lived and worked in Europe, gaining these skills. In 2010 I attended Villa Fabris, Italy to complete a three month course of international standing in plaster conservation.

Importantly, this Churchill Fellowship enabled me to continue refining my technical skills and to compare and contrast overseas heritage practice with the Australian context. While the heritage sector - whether in Australia or Europe - always seems to struggle for resources, it is inevitable that heritage research, study and practice in the UK and Europe has a level of activity unmatched in Australia.

This Fellowship has helped me appreciate the activities and processes I can implement to grow my professional practice as well as activities for which I need to advocate. This report highlights examples of work useful to my profession occurring in Australia.

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