The Textile Conservation Centre moves to the University of Southampton

Student working on Amazonian Initiation Glove.
Student working on Amazonian Initiation Glove.

The Textile Conservation Centre (TCC) has been affliated with the Courtauld Institute of Art since its foundation in 1975 by Karen Finch OBE. This link helped ensure that the Centre was established on a firm academic foundation. For over two decades the TCC has been instrumental in developing the profession and techniques of textile conservation. It has never received Government funding yet it continues to be the world’s premier training institution for textile conservators.

Plans for the future include the continued development of our postgraduate education at MA and PhD level, and research and running short courses for the continuing professional development of conservators and curators. We also want to develop the work of our commercial Conservation Services Department. Visitors to our premises in Hampton Court Palace will be aware that our space is cramped and awkward: it was the major obstacle to realising these aims.

The support of the Courtauld Director, Eric Fernie during this period of planning has been enormously important to us. When the option of relocating to Somerset House proved impossible we sought alternative options with Professor Fernie’s full endorsement.

The TCC then merged with the University of Southampton and in August 1999 moves to a new, purpose-designed building on the University’s Winchester School of Art campus. As part of the University the Textile Conservation Centre will retain its distinct identity and its name. We have launched a capital campaign to raise the £4.8 million required for the move to the new building, new equipment and development. We have raised £3.1 million - but there is still a long way to go.

We are very sad to be losing our affiliation with the Courtauld Institute, but these exciting developments will offer new opportunities for collaboration with Courtauld colleagues in the future. Finally I would like to record most grateful thanks to Professor Fernie for his advice and support.

Nell Hoare - Director, TCC

Staff News

Ja´s Elsner has been appointed to the Humphrey Payne Senior Research Fellowship, Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Brenda Curtois is retiring. She worked part-time in the Book Library from 1986-1996 and as Assistant to the Director’s Secretary 1996-99. Her quiet friendliness will be much missed.

The Special Collections Of Former Staff And Students From The Institute

Work in sorting and evaluating material donated to the Library by some of the most eminent art historians connected with the Courtauld Institute began in May of last year. These special collections will form the basis of a research facility for staff and students of the Institute, art historians and scholars from the wider community.

The core of the new Research Library will consist of material given to the Institute by Professor Anthony Blunt, Johannes Wilde, Count Antoine Seilern. Professor John Shearman has promised books due to arrive within the next three years. Their collections reflect their interests. Professor Blunt, one of the most important Poussin scholars this century, bequeathed a collection strong in 17th and 18th century art and architecture. Johannes Wilde’s collection is rich in material on 16th century art and Count Seilern’s collection, while very wide ranging, contains many rare journals and a fine collection of works on Rubens.

Some of these bequests date back to the 1970’s but due to restricted space and funds they remained dispersed throughout the Institute and uncatalogued. They have now been reunited in the Book Library and will be catalogued online in the next few years.

Much of the material will need specialised conservation treatment particularly Blunt’s fine collection of antiquarian books. (Some of these books can be seen as part of the current display devoted to the Special Collections in the Library foyer until April.)

The Institute is currently looking to raise funds for a reading room with appropriate storage space, display facilities and the necessary environmental controls to house these exceptional collections. It is hoped the project will highlight the international standing of the resources available at the Institute and testify to the calibre of the teaching and collecting activities of its former staff and students. For further information on the project please contact Sarah Mitchell, Development Officer at the Institute.

Ann Sproat - Special Collections Librarian

Louise Bourgeois

The presence of the Louise Bourgeois exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery last November and the Jackson Pollock exhibition at the Tate Gallery this spring, marking significant events in the recent history of post-war American art’s reception in Britain, also offers an auspicious moment to review the recent study of later twentieth-century American art at the Courtauld.

As reported in the last newsletter, the Institute hosted a symposium in conjunction with the Serpentine show. As the lecture theatre was full to overflowing on that Saturday, and many would-be participants were turned away, it is especially pleasing to be able to say that the contributions will be published in November, as a special issue of the November Oxford Art Journal.

This spring, ten students bravely tested the new American-based MA special option 'Postmodernism in the American Context, 1960 to the Present’ (which replaces 'The Duchamp Effect’ course offered in the previous two years). With the support of the Blunt Travel Fund, our seminar travelled to New York to see the Pollock exhibition in its first venue, the Museum of Modern Art, and to attend the Museum’s Pollock symposium. We also looked in on former students Paula Feldman, who is now the archivist for the historic Paula Cooper Gallery, and Ari Wiseman, who, as a member of staff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been closely involved in the Museum’s recent acquisition of Jasper Johns’s White Flag, now on display at the Met.

In June, we look forward to finishing the academic year on a high note by welcoming Rosalind Krauss, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University, to the Institute to lecture on Pollock. Professor Krauss will present 'Beyond the Crisis of the Easel Picture’ on June 22 at 5:30, as the first of what it is hoped will become an annual lecture on post-war and contemporary art.

Mignon Nixon