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Allanah Hay 2020 (Conservationist)

Alannah Hay Year Two:

BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone, Wood & Decorative Surfaces

City & Guilds of London Art School

I grew up in Surrey, between my parents’ house in Leatherhead and my Grandparent’s smallholding down

the road in Effingham. From my early teen years, I spent each Saturday working on my Grandparent’s farm or helping with their stone garden ornaments business. I was often in the workshop with my Grandad working on repairing broken ornaments and repainting them when needed. Since then I’ve always had some form of work, from cleaning and catering to sewing costumes and graphic design - being conscientious in making sure that I had and could save money.

I love painting, drawing, and making things, but always found more joy in the art of replication for the critical studies than I did working on my own creations. I was also top set in science, and in my school these two subjects were presented as quite separate paths. Pursuing Design seemed the best option for me to combine my strengths creative practices with technical thinking, and a career. After completing a BA in Design at Goldsmiths I fell into a career in marketing, which was a good learning experience though I never felt any passion for it. The decision to quit my job to study again was a shock even to myself, but I truly felt that this course, and the profession it leads to, is what I truly want to do.

As a result, I’ve significantly changed my life to do it, and I’ve now moved back in with my parents. I’m lucky to be able to do this, though it’s definitely not what I imagined I’d be doing at the age of 30. However, I believe that completing the course will also give me the freedom to spend some time living and working abroad to learn from other conservators, and within different environments and cultures, which I’d love to do. Already, following on from my essay on G.F Watts’ bust of Clytie, I have engaged with the Collections Manager at the Watts Gallery to take on some extra-curricular research on some conservation issues with some busts there.

Completing first year has only furthered my determination to succeed on this course and within the field of conservation. This year of study has covered historic crafts, conservation theory, history of art and chemistry. I really feel I’ve engaged with all subjects, and as we move more into conservation practice, I’m enjoying putting this newly acquired knowledge into practice. The long days, workload, and reading required for the course is challenging, but it has never felt like a chore. It had also been at least 10 years since I last wrote an essay or sat a test, but for both history of art and chemistry my grades proved that I could still do it, particularly, in the second chemistry test where I achieved 90%.

I have also gone the extra mile in my spare time to fully complete my stone carving (now left outside so that I can use it for tests next year) and gild my wood carving. I don’t plan on becoming a carver, but I really enjoyed these modules as they improved my hand and observational skills, as well as appreciation of the skill involved in creating such objects. During the summer I plan to practice more gilding work, as this is both an endangered skill, and essential to conservation work. I’m extremely grateful to have been taught these skills, and the support given by the tutors at the Art School has been consistently excellent.

For the first time in my education and career life I feel totally in my element. I’d be incredibly thankful for support in this endeavour, and further motivated to work to the best of my abilities. The demands of the course have limited my ability to secure much paid work around my studies. This is primarily why I have moved back to live with my parents, whom one is retired and the other works part-time. I had managed to find a job working at a pub part-time some evenings and weekends. This was the only employment I found that fit around both my studies and commute. On the evenings that I’m working, I leave the Art School at 4:30pm to get to work at 5pm for a 6-hour shift, which finishes just in time for me to catch the last train back to Leatherhead. It is exhausting, typically 2 days a week I leave the house at 8:00am and return at 12:30am.

However, due to the pandemic I’m now on furlough, which whilst I am grateful for, recouping my savings did depend on working extra shifts over the summer. There are also trips, tools and other resources required for this course, which is another reason I took on paid work. I have greatly reduced my living costs and found employment which allows me to cover travel expenses, doing everything that I can to put myself in a better financial situation. However, being self-funded from savings that I have not been able to build, means that without support for the fees I will struggle financially throughout second year, and will likely not be able progress immediately to third year. Support with the fees this year would be crucial to ensuring I can continue in subsequent years, as well as allowing me to dedicate as much time and energy as possible to my studies.

On the following pages I’ve included some images of my work from our historic craft modules, and I hope this, along with the grades I’ve achieved and my near perfect attendance in first year reflect both my dedication and abilities to succeed on this course.

Oak leaf carved in Lime. Water gilded with 23.5ct gold leaf

Pastiglia: Raised gesso design inspired by a medieval encaustic tile. Water gilded with 23.5ct gold Leaf.

Verre Eglomise: 8ct white gold reverse gilded glass. 16th century Illustration by Claude Paradin

Sgraffito: Egg Tempera on 23ct rose gold. 16th century Illustration by Claude Paradin .

Sustained Ornament Drawing

Tonal Drawing of a Griffin

Drawing of Lucas Faydherbe’s bust ‘Hercules’-Front view

Drawing of Lucas Faydherbe’s bust ‘ Hercules’- Profile view

Oak Leaf carved in Portland

Chip Carving in Lime Wood

Letter Carving

Clay Relief modelling


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