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Subject: Studentship at Victoria and Albert Museum

Studentship at Victoria and Albert Museum

From: Shayne Rivers <s.rivers<-a>
Date: Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Conserving Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Investigating
the Removal of Degraded Western Varnish from Oriental Lacquer.

Applications are invited for a joint PhD studentship with the
Department of Chemistry, Imperial College and the Furniture
Conservation Section, Victoria and Albert Museum, to commence in
October 2005.

The V&A holds a substantial and important collection of Japanese
lacquerware and has identified a significant research need in
lacquer conservation. Western coatings have been applied to aged
lacquer in an attempt to resaturate the colour and restore the
original gloss. Unfortunately, they do not replicate the original
appearance of lacquer and tend to compromise the subtlety of the
decoration. Further, Western varnishes can damage the original
lacquer as they age and degrade in turn. The more aged the lacquer
surface and the more degraded and oxidised the Western coating, the
more difficult it is to remove the varnish without damaging the
original lacquer. The problem of removing degraded Western varnishes
from oriental lacquer affects a substantial proportion of such

The student will be required to develop and apply both art
historical and scientific methodologies to their research. Analysing
the interpretation and presentation of Japanese lacquer in Western
collections, identifying the aesthetic criteria applied to Japanese
lacquer in Japan and the West, and understanding the cultural belief
systems that define conservation ethics in Japan and the West are
expected to provide a framework for proposing experimental

The PhD will take place within the context of a broader
interdisciplinary conservation and scientific research project on
Japanese lacquer currently in progress at the V&A. The doctoral
student will be able to draw on the expertise of project team
members and will be expected to discuss and present their work to
both the team and other PhD students within the project.

Advanced research has not previously been undertaken in this subject
area and thus offers the possibility of doctoral research that will
lead this specialised international conservation discipline. It will
be carried out between two institutions internationally recognised
for the quality of their research programmes, giving the student
access to unparalleled combined resources and expertise in art
history, curatorship, conservation, chemistry and materials science.
The doctorate will be jointly supervised by Prof. Tom Welton
(Professor of Catalysis, IC) and Dr Rupert Faulkner (Senior Curator
of Japanese Art, V&A).

The collaborative studentship is funded by the UK Arts and
Humanities Research Council. The award for persons ordinarily
resident in the UK for the previous three years (excluding F/T
education) covers fees and a maintenance award of UKP14,500 per
year. There will be an additional payment of UKP1000 per annum from
the V&A. A 'fees-only' award is available for EU residents.

Applicants must have a good first degree in materials science or
chemistry related discipline and be able to demonstrate an interest
in cultural heritage. For further information please contact Prof.
Welton <t.welton<-a t->imperial< . >ac< . >uk>. To apply, candidates should send a
completed postgraduate student application form (available from Ms
Doris Pappoe <d.pappoe<-a t->imperial< . >ac< . >uk> or from
<URL:> no later than Friday, 6 May 2005.
Interviews will be held on 25 May 2005.

Shayne Rivers
Senior Furniture Conservator
Victoria and Albert Museum
South Kensington
London SW7 2RL
+44 20 7942 2097

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:51
                  Distributed: Tuesday, April 26, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-18-51-043
Received on Wednesday, 20 April, 2005

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