From: Darwen, Lancashire
Studying: MA Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management (full time, 2 years)
Q1) What are you working on?/ What are your research interests?
I’m currently exploring the art and imagery of York Minster. As a student of stained glass research I am finding this module especially interesting and engaging. My specific research interests include corrosion processes in medieval glass and the use of experimental materials in manufacture and conservation in the 20th Century.
Q2) Which modules have been most fascinating and why?
One of the great things about this course is the variety of modules involved. So far I have enjoyed all of the modules and have found them useful in different ways. I particularly enjoyed creating a copy of a painted medieval panel at the beginning of the first year. The practical exercises are specifically designed to prepare you for professional scenarios and this was both challenging and fun. I am very much looking forward to the next practical module ‘Advanced Techniques’ in the spring term. I also found the module ‘Painting on Light’ to be very valuable. This module encouraged me to examine relevant literature more critically whilst also allowing me to pursue my own research interests in more depth.
Q3) What is your background and what made you choose history of art at York?
I gained my undergraduate degree in Interior Design from the University of Central Lancashire in 2011. After graduating, I wanted to concentrate on the conservation of art and design within the built environment. I spent considerable time looking for a suitable postgraduate course and eventually found it at the University of York with an MA which combines art history, archaeology, science and fine art practice. The course is unique in the UK and offers elements that meet all of my interests. It was also clear to me that graduates of the MA go on to forge very successful careers.
Q4) What is the level of support from staff and the department as a whole? Are they receptive to feedback?
The staff have been supportive from the very beginning. The cohorts are small which allows tutors to get to know you well along with your strengths and weaknesses. Making use of other avenues of support in the wider department is encouraged and students are invited to give feedback on their learning experiences regularly.
Q5) What has been your favourite study trip and why?
Several of the module seminars have been conducted on site which has given me the opportunity to visit a range of different places on day trips. Additionally, there is a week-long study trip offered every two years. In the Easter break of my first year we visited Germany, Belgium and Holland. I found this trip to be a tremendously informative and motivating experience. We explored stained glass in context in cathedrals, abbeys, museums and conservation studios accompanied by experts in the field. We were introduced to some really interesting live projects and met fellow conservation students and previous York graduates working in Europe. For me, particular highlights of the trip were seeing a fascinating antique glass bottle collection and exploring the glazing of Cologne Cathedral at clerestory level!
Q6) Have you undertaken any work experience during your placement? Has the department supported you in career planning?
Between the two years of the MA students complete a 16 week professional placement in world leading conservation studios in Europe and sometimes further afield. I spent three months at Cologne Cathedral in Germany and one month at Barley Studio in York. The department strives to place students in environments according to their future career preferences and are very supportive. My placement experience was enormously valuable and fascinating. It was especially beneficial to witness at first hand the specific problems, conservation responses and pioneering research being conducted in the field.
Q7) Are you involved in any society or community-based activity in York outside your studies?
I really enjoy volunteering at the Stained Glass Centre at St. Martin cum Gregory Church in York. The centre holds open days, craft fairs, exhibitions, workshops and lectures throughout the year, raising money for the trust and supporting continued research and appreciation of stained glass. Volunteering there also allows me to get together with current and former students and other stained glass professionals outside of my study.
Q8) How do you plan to use your degree?/ What are your plans for the future?
After I finish my MA I hope to work as a stained glass conservator in Germany. Everything I have learned and experienced during the course has strengthened my ambition to be involved in the continued protection, preservation and understanding of stained glass. My placements at Cologne Cathedral and Barley Studio gave me great insight and experience and I hope to apply my skills to a future in conservation. I feel extremely fortunate and excited to have found a subject so well suited to my interests and skills and studying my MA at York has been the most rewarding experience of my life so far.