Posted on 31 July 2023
Professor Sarah Brown has been named as the recipient of the 2023 Plowden Medal for Conservation, awarded annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the conservation profession.
Professor Brown, who oversaw the conservation of the Great East Window of York Minster, the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain, has been a tireless champion of the stained-glass community since the 1980s, playing a key role in the development of professional accreditation for practitioners and introducing academic training for stained-glass conservators.
Professor Brown said she was humbled to be awarded the prestigious Medal, which honours the life and achievements of the late Hon. Anna Plowden CBE - a leading conservator.
Professor Brown's website profile, from the Department of History of Art website, said: "Anna Plowden made such a big difference to the conservation community that to be awarded this medal in her memory is very moving.
"It was very humbling to be told I had been chosen — I am not often speechless but momentarily I was! It's a tremendous affirmation especially because I never feel like I am working, and I love what I do so much.
"I am grateful to my colleagues and peers for making a nomination on my behalf."
Whilst studying a Masters at the University of York, she first became aware of threats to stained glass and aware of the fact there were very few people who could care for this heritage and endangered craft.
She worked hard to establish a national accreditation scheme for stained glass conservators, which subsequently became part of The Institute of Conservation national scheme. Following this, the University of York launched a Masters Course in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management in 2008.
Professor Brown is currently the Course Director of the MA in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management at the University of York and the Director of the York Glaziers Trust, where she leads the team responsible for the care of York Minster’s internationally outstanding collection of historic glass.
Carole Milner, MBE, who nominated Professor Brown and previous Plowden Medal winner said: "Sarah is one of the sector’s most generous advocates, innovators, and supporters, who has occupied numerous formal positions in the world of stained-glass conservation, all carried out with the highest degree of responsibility, excellence, and commitment.
“Above and beyond this, she has given generously and unstintingly of her own time, to her colleagues, her students, her profession and the wider conservation world, nationally and Internationally.
"There is no question in my mind that Sarah is one the UK’s leading conservation professionals both in her field and beyond it."