ICOM-CC 17th Triennial Conference, Melbourne

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by Stella Gardner, CTC Graduate, 2013.

This year’s ICOM-CC conference in Melbourne was my first experience of a major international conference and it was rather exciting travelling to Australia to mingle with 500+ conservators from all over the world! It also gave me and several former CTC students the chance to meet up again after graduating a year ago. Under the theme ‘Building Strong Culture through Conservation’ we heard sessions and papers relating to sites, collections or individual objects that brought about collaboration and involvement of conservators, heritage professionals and local communities.


A CTC reunion
A CTC reunion


The textile group sessions were right at the beginning of the week and although few in number they covered a wide range of topics and offered interesting and valuable papers. Other working group sessions throughout the conference, for example Ethnographic, Leather and Preventive, were extremely beneficial and it was encouraging to see similarities across the different disciplines. While many of the papers were not textile related the majority offered ideas and treatments which could be applied to my practice as a conservator in a private textile studio.

As part of the conference we joined a group visit to the National Gallery of Victoria textile conservation labs. We were shown around the studio and introduced to the various projects the team were currently working on. We also visited the Australian Tapestry Workshop which was full of incredibly detailed and brightly coloured tapestries.

group visit
ICOM-CC group visit to the National Gallery of Victoria textile conservation studio

Another positive aspect of the conference was the recognition paid to the original owners of the land, the Indigenous Australians. At each plenary session, cultural and social event we were welcomed to the land by a local Aboriginal Elder and learnt a little about their fascinating living cultural heritage. We were even treated to a rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ played on the gum leaf!

 opening session and Welcome to the conference and Australia
Opening session and welcome to the conference and Australia

Along with the many thought-provoking papers there were also ample breaks to network, read posters and enjoy tea and biscuits or the delicious Australian cuisine Melbourne (and the conference) had to offer! The final announcement was the location of the next ICOM-CC Conference in 2017 – Copenhagen! I would definitely recommend attending the conference as not only is it a brilliant opportunity to hear about the latest researches and practices carried out across the conservation disciplines but it is also a great way to meet and make contacts with other conservators from across the globe.  I am very grateful to the Clothworkers’ Foundation and the Anna Plowden Trust for their generous support, without which I would have been unable to attend the conference.



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