Hello! I am Miranda and I am the new HLF & ICON Paintings Conservation Intern here at the Bowes Museum!
I am originally from Cambridge, but have spent a lot of time in the north studying in Scotland and Newcastle, so I am (almost) acclimatised to the cold weather!
My interest in art began at a very young age when I would visit art galleries with my family, and my sister and I would sit beneath a painting and try to copy it with whatever pencils or art supplies we could find. My love for works of art, particularly paintings, steered me to study for my MA (Hons) degree in the History of Art at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, before studying for my Masters in the Conservation of Fine Art at Northumbria University, at which time I elected to specialise in Easel painting conservation.
During my masters I undertook voluntary work placements at the Guildhall Museum and Art Gallery in London, and the Trumpington Gallery in Cambridge. From these placements I was fortunate enough to learn different methods of working and approaches to treatments from the conservators that I worked with. The HLF and ICON internship here at the Bowes will allow me to develop my skills further and to learn from Paintings Conservator, Jon Old.
I was drawn to conservation because of the collaboration of both hands-on and academic aspects of the job, as well as the proximity to amazing artworks that conservation facilitates; allowing me to study the individual brushstrokes applied by artists up close. The satisfaction that arises from seeing a poor painting in need of some serious TLC restored to the way it would have once looked after leaving the artist’s studio all those many years ago, is incredible and is one of the reasons why I love my job. This in conjunction with the wonderful paintings that I have had the opportunity to work on so far, makes me feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to work here.
Currently I am working on a number of paintings, both from The Bowes Museum collection and from private clients, dating from the 17th to the 20th century. I have recently finished the treatment of a portrait of a lady, affectionately referred to as ‘Nelly’, who will be the subject of a blog post in the near future, so stay tuned!
As an intern, my role is multi-faceted. This means that I am also able to work outside of the conservation studio and with other members of the museum team. I have been involved with helping the exhibitions team to hang paintings in the galleries, helping the preventive conservators with surface cleaning the paintings in the picture galleries, and collaborating with couriers regarding incoming loans.
I have loved my time at the Museum so far and I cannot wait to see what exciting projects and paintings I will have the opportunity to work on next!
Written by Miranda Brain, Heritage Fund & ICON Intern in Painting Conservation at The Bowes Museum.