I’m Katarina the new Conservation Assistant at Polesden Lacey. I thought I’d introduce myself to all of you and tell you about my first few weeks here at Pretty Polesden.
Well. How can I describe my first week? Wonderfully manic would be about right. I have had a taste of everything from condition reports, to conservation hoovers, the endless supply of volunteer cake and the brilliant World War Two air-raid sound of Polesden’s Fire Alarm. I have sat in on fascinating conservation meetings and in so doing met the wonderful array of volunteers and Conservation Demonstrators that help Polesden look its best. I was so pleased to find SUCH a huge range of volunteer roles here at Polesden, from Statue Conservation Assistants, to Geo-caching Assistants and Social Media Assistants. It’s been great to have such a range of volunteer expertise to work with, in my new role as Conservation Assistant!
My role, of course, revolves primarily around Polesden’s colourful collections. I spend my days working amongst a world-class Dutch Old Master paintings collection, which would excite any visitor, let alone said writer with her art historical background. Initially, I am always drawn to the paintings, but there are so many treasures at Polesden that light up my day as a Conservation Assistant. I’ll wander into the study to adjust the light levels, and there is that secret sewing box subtely sitting next to the Meissen cabinet.
Anyone for Fashion prints? Late 18th Century or Regency? Well you can find both of these beautiful sets just lingering in the Blue Cloakroom and Portico Bathroom.
As for the clocks. Well. I’ve got 18 to play with. Chelsea, our resident clock-expert and Conservation and Engagement Assistant has been teaching me how to wind each of these special clocks. Regular winding at the same time every week and familiarity of touch, helps them to keep their time best. I found this idea fascinating, that the clocks themselves are aware of the same person, exerting the same pressure and at the same speed each week. In short we treat our clocks like living creatures, who will respond to familiar touch. This made it clear to me that a Conservation Assistant (and indeed any member of the House Team) doesn’t merely work with their collections, but really gets acquainted with them. If I were to outline the main lessons that I have learnt in my first few weeks at Polesden, this would definitely be one (another would be to pack a huge, sustaining lunch.)
It’s been a great learning curve so far, but I’m also really looking forward to all of the projects I’ll be taking over in the future. These projects will probably include things like environmental monitoring reports, inventory mark auditing, condition report monitoring, as well as Conservation in Action projects, delivering mini Master Classes on aspects of conservation and training volunteers and interns. You know you’re having fun at work when your to-do list fills you with excitement rather than dread, and home-time always seems to arrive prematurely.
So, here is my hearty hello to all of you Polesden people! It’s been lovely meeting all of you and watch this space for more of my updates!