I work as the research scientist and teacher at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, a department of the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge. The Institute conserves and restores paintings for the Fitzwilliam Museum and for numerous clients including the National Trust, English Heritage and Royal Collection. The Institute also runs a three-year post-graduate course for training conservators, and undertakes technical research on paintings and polychrome sculpture. It also offers internships for trained conservators.
(If you have questions about the conservation, restoration or examination of paintings, or about courses or internships, please contact the Administrator.)
I trained as a chemist, specialising in synthetic organic chemistry. I then worked on films and TV, making special effects with contributions to The Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones, Greystoke, Labyrinth, Princess Bride, Little Shop of Horrors, Spitting Image and much more. Foreseeing the imminent demise of rubber puppets as a consequence of the ineluctable rise of CGI, I moved into computing, only to discover conservation. I retrained as a conservator at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, (see student project) and completed a PhD, studying craquelure on Old Master paintings (see JSTOR), part funded by QEST and the Wingate Foundation.
I have since had the great good fortune to work on some extraordinary paintings. These have ranged from the Fitzwilliam Museum's Ramoses Book of the Dead (c.1300 BC) and Macclesfield Psalter (c.1330 AD) to the Westminster Retable (c.1260 AD), the altarpiece at the heart of medieval England, and the Thornham Parva Retable (c.1330 AD), Britain's best preserved medieval altarpiece.
I am currently involved in a number of projects. These include technical studies of (c.500BC) Greek vases from the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, a technical survey of Rood Screens in (C14-C16) East Anglian churches, and investigations into a (C17) English still life, the (C19) archives of British artists' suppliers and illuminated manuscripts.
The Hamilton Kerr Institute, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, has extensive international links and welcomes all opportunities to collaborate with other academic and cultural institutions. Please contact me if you would be interested in exploring possible collaborative research. Particular areas of interest include -
technical studies of artists' materials and methods
human perceptual interpretation of visual imagery
computational interpretation of visual imagery