Internship experience by Eden Victoria Christian student at
Internship experience Painting Conservation student at Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials, Melbourne – Australia
Internship for 3 weeks in 2017
As part of my master’s degree in paintings conservation I found myself looking for a practical internship that would benefit both myself and the location I was lucky enough to study at. With few opportunities in Australia I decided to look overseas and to a private studio where I could experience an environment I had yet to see. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, having the opportunity to learn conservation in the Netherlands was a dream; to be surrounded so much culture and appreciation for art history.
My internship started in May, and when I arrived I started where every student does; documentation and the analysis of two different paintings. One nineteenth-century oil on canvas portrait and a twentieth-century oil on canvas by George Martens, part of the artist collective de Ploeg. Both were interesting, and both had their own issues and problems to overcome. With only three weeks my hope was to learn as much as possible and experience everything I could. The painting by George Martens was particularly interesting to me not having heard of the Dutch art collective de Ploeg before. The collective began in the early twentieth-century in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands, to educate the populace about changes in art at the time. The artists usually mixed their own paints with different mediums meaning that the highly ingrained dirt on the surface of the painting was particularly hard to remove without properly knowing what was really adhering it. This is when I tried gels. I had not had much experience with this increasingly used method of cleaning and it was good to practically use different recipes to discover what would work best.
Studying under Marjan was a whirlwind of different conservation projects and discussions. I had never worked in a private studio before, mainly volunteering in Australian museums and historical societies. I felt that I seamlessly fell into the workings of the day-to-day jobs at the studio, going off-site to galleries and state buildings to examine and treat many different artworks. In Europe and specifically in the Netherlands art and the cities history are seen very differently than in Australia. I grew up going to museums and galleries but there is something different about living in a country and city filled with so much history staring at you as you walk down the street. The Hague alone has over fifteen cultural institutions, is the seat of the Dutch parliament, and many different international judicial bodies. The city is a vibrant culture hub and the love for art and the appreciation for the conservation of the country’s history is immediately obvious.
This internship exoperience was great. And couldn’t have come at a better time, being a student, I still had no ‘real life’ working experience. I was delighted to be at the studio, I learnt a great deal through the various work-based experiences, and I also enjoyed exploring The Hague and adventures in the Dutch countryside.