Rhea Evers was named a Rising Star in 2017, and put her award towards her two-year Conservation MA. Here she talks about the training and experience that got her to where she is today.  

*Image courtesy of The Bluebell Railway

It is certainly possible to embark on a career in conservation from degree-level, however I did not follow a mainstream career path. After graduating with a BA in Illustration in 2011, I volunteered in heritage organisations and galleries such as The William Morris Gallery, The National Maritime Museum and The National Trust to gain experience with collection documentation and preventive conservation.

In 2016 I began an eighteen-month, Heritage Lottery-Funded Book conservation traineeship with PZ Conservation in Cornwall under the supervision of Elizabeth Neville MA ACR. The experiences I had gained as a volunteer and the specialist skills I had begun to learn as a trainee were important for me to be considered for a Master’s degree and qualify for entry. With them I could demonstrate my dedication to the profession and bridge the gap between my undergraduate degree and chosen profession. 

At the time, there were two book conversation courses available in the U.K, there is currently only one. I chose the MA programme at Camberwell College of Arts as it was full-time and included wonderful and valuable placements at conservation studios in London’s cultural institutions. A particular highlight was attending an extended six-week placement at The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford in the summer of 2018, which introduced me to new techniques and treatments via 1:1 tuition with inspiring and generous supervisors. 

In 2019 I achieved my long-term ambition to qualify as a book and paper conservator and graduated with distinction. In the same year I took up the permanent position of Project Conservator – Digitisation and Large Scale Projects at The National Archives. Conservation training in any specialism can take many years so it is a serious commitment of time and money. 

The Printing Charity’s support towards my development also positively impacted the quality of my student experience; allowing me more time with my studies by alleviating pressure to work a second part-time job. Thank you, The Printing Charity – I couldn’t have come this far without a Rising Star Award.

Are you a Rising Star, or know someone that is? Fill in this application form and return it to us before 7 March 2021.