by Clare Meredith, Textile Conservation Foundation.
What a pleasure to be asked to present the 2018 Karen Finch Prize to not just one CTC graduating student, but two. The Prize this year being shared between two students judged equally deserving: Laura Garcia Vedrenne and Megan Creamer.
The setting for this happy occasion was Room 512 on the 5th Floor of the Robertson Building, a room usually used for small seminars and, for that matter, meetings of the Textile Conservation Foundation (of which I’m Chairman). The scene on this occasion within Room 512 was celebratory: cake (see below), chat and toasts to the future, marking not only the awards to Megan and Laura, but saluting the entire cohort. And reflecting too on the remarkable woman in whose name this annual Prize is given: Dr Karen Finch, who died in April this year, aged 96. Obituaries in the Times and Guardian, as well as Radio 4’s ‘Last Word’ have captured both the achievements, the voice and sheer drive of this one-woman power house. Some of us in Room 512 knew her first hand: either as her students (and now tutors themselves at CTC) or, in my case, in recent years in my role as Chairman of the Textile Conservation Foundation. I visited Karen a few times at her daughter Katrina’s home in Walthamstow, and even on occasion with previous recipients of the Karen Finch Prize. Karen always took enormous pride, interest and pleasure in all generations of former TCC or CTC students so it was a particular privilege to act this year as the link, for Laura and Megan, to the distinguished woman in whose name this Prize is given.
It was quite a few years ago now that a decision was taken by the Textile Conservation Foundation to establish and fund, in Karen Finch’s name, an annual prize to be awarded to an exceptional 2nd year (graduating) student. And a decision taken likewise, by the Foundation, to fund a Karen Finch Bursary. The intention being that students — always at the centre of Karen’s world – would benefit and their achievements be acknowledged. In sum, a living tribute to Karen. There was particular poignancy this being the year of Karen’s death, but such delight, from us all in Room 512, that Megan and Laura are the 2018 recipients. Congratulations to you both!