Student perspective on V&A conference

“My experience was wholly positive, from meeting such phenomenal people to learning about the Coalbrookdale shut-down and the way slate was brought up from quarries during the 10-minute champions, and all of that in a truly great venue.  Such an interesting range of subjects were covered over a single conference, all with the common theme of conservation and I really valued the depth of knowledge and guidance given.

I learnt a lot from Bethan Griffiths’ lecture on the importance of significance – how to understand a historic setting and design something that is sympathetic in design but not necessarily traditional in making. It is always important to enhance the significance of a site, rather than detract from what makes a site special and important.

It was deeply inspiring to hear Heiner Zimmerman speak on the importance of teaching the next generation. His talk really helped hammer home how traditional skills can be learnt and then adapted in different ways as times change. Also eye-opening was that by working with historic ironwork we can commune with smiths from the past and that’s how we, as craftspeople, can explore our own identity.

But what really struck me most as an aspiring blacksmith was a very simple question that Heiner posed: “How can I create work that is worthy of conservation in the future?”  This is a fantastic question as it forced me to really consider my own position in the wider picture and make me decide on where I wanted to fit in and how to get there.

It was a personal highlight to see Chris Topp receive his well-deserved lifetime achievement award and to learn more about his career and his ‘place’ in the wider picture. It really raised the bar on where to aim for in my own career.  At the after party, I got an opportunity to talk to so many like minded people and really feel a part of the community created by the NHIG. From talking about my previous work experience to Chris Topp, to discussing upcoming projects and making new friends.  A thoroughly amazing event from start to finish. ” Lee Valentine, Hereford College of Arts


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