What are your research interests / what are you working on?
"My main research interest is stained glass conservation; in terms of art historical research, techniques, history and methodologies. Beside that I also try to understand and study stained glass conservation and the responsibility of the stained glass conservator in the wider context of the heritage field in general and internationally."
What modules have been most fascinating and why?
"History and Theory of Stained Glass Conservation, was for me, as an experienced practitioner within a traditional stained glass workshop, a revelation! The module made very clear why and how art historical and technical research can reveal information about the stained glass craft in the past, and is essential before any conservation has started. Painting on Light, led by Tim Ayers, was also a brilliant module that provided me a new way of looking at stained glass and highlighted the need to understand it in its context of a time, place and evolution. The range of international speakers that taught Issues in Cultural Heritage Conservation made it also a highly enriching module, which gave great insight into what it means to work within Heritage Bodies"
What background do you come to HoA from and why HoA?
"After my Masters in Musicology (KUL, Belgium) I joined my parents in the family business: “Stained glass studio Mestdagh” in Ghent (Belgium). I’ve been at the workshop for six years now but I’ve never had the proper time to study stained glass history and conservation. This Masters has been the perfect opportunity for me to finally find answers to the many questions I had, study conservation methodologies and the history of stained glass. It is wonderful to do so!"
Why York rather than somewhere else?
"There are only three places in Europe where you can get a Masters degree in Stained Glass Conservation, one of which is in Antwerp (Belgium). Despite a course close by, I still chose the Masters in York because of its academic focus, its international status, the extensive placement, and, specifically in my case, the fact that it is only two years. As an owner of a stained glass workshop, time was of the essence and a four year course was out of the question."
How has your experience at York broadened your horizons as an art historian?
"Absolutely! Being involved in a stained glass studio, my time was always consumed by techniques, commercial needs and specific problems. This course has allowed me to focus on the surrounding narratives to what had previously been for me a largely practical field."
What do you feel is the most important thing you will take away from your experience at York?
"Of all the great things I’ve experienced at York there are two things that will change my future career: the faith and belief in academic research within stained glass conservation and the international network of stained glass conservators that I’ve built up and will allow discussions to continue worldwide."
What would your dream job be?
"It is my dream to create a stained glass centre within the family workshop where stained glass conservation is practised and advice is given at the highest level, the craft of glass painting is passed on, trainees and artists are welcome, and the wider public can be instructed in this beautiful craft. It would be great to enhance the status of the workshop by bringing together traditional technical knowledge with academic research."