I was very pleased to make the acquaintance of a talented french restoration student, Ségolène Girard. Like minded in many ways and dedicated to her craft, she has agreed to be a regular member of the blog doing guest posts on her fascinating restoration projects.
Hi, I’m Ségolène, sounds french non ?
I come from a traditional french family, where it seems history is part of genetics. My mother is now working for the OPR and MPF association which strives for buildings preservation, a passion shared by my father as they put all their savings 14 years ago in the rebuilding of a 12th century old fiefdom. I had the chance to grow up being surrounded by beautiful antiques as they would preserve them. As a child I couldn’t understand why it was forbidden to sit on the hand-embroidered Louis the 16th squat armchair, or why we wouldn’t use the hundred beautiful dinner plates with gold and mauve outline from the Roaring Twentie’s, because of course it wouldn’t make any difference with things you can buy at the local store, but they certainly aroused my interest. While other parents would spend their savings in new technologies and games, antiques and historic anecdotes have been, as far as I can remember, part of my life.
Strangely enough, even as a young adult, restoration didn’t occur to me, probably because it was already quite natural for me to respect antiques. I knew I wanted to work in the arts, but I didn’t know what to choose really, as long as creativity was involved. I actually went to an interview for my school after I had found a brochure in my mom’s room, whom has studied archeology, and was a history teacher. Today, it doesn’t really feel like it was the wrong decision, because the more I study restoration the more I feel like I belong.
As young conservators, we have to face today pieces from the 19th and 20th century, which value people only start to see. Mostly because these things from everyday life are not artworks but artcraft, they are usually set aside in museum stores. Yet, they are the testimony of a living. Just like an elderly person we have to be patient and let them decide of what piece of memory they choose to give us and at what moment. This pieces of informations must be cherished, and respected for their experience, and what they can teach us. My work tends to everyday life objects, that were generic at the time they were created, but now reveal stories of a life-time. As well as art pieces gets their label of art not always for their beauty but for their capacity to bring an emotion, an old toy does make memories surface, and then, what difference is there between artwork and artcraft ?
Of all jobs that involves art, conservation is taught today as if it had nothing to do with creativity. But I couldn’t agree less. I probably approach conservation work as a lost craft, that leans too much towards science today. I mean, it is fantastic that science is continually evolving, and helping us through our work, but it is my intention to reintroduce more sensibility in the pieces I work with. And I say with, and not on.
I’m currently in my last and fifth year of MasterII in conservation. I studied paper, painting and ceramic restoration in Paris the first year, and specialized in paper restoration in the second, which lead me to study for two years in Lyon, southeastern France, and then two other years back in Paris for my thesis and graduation in 2016, for a total of 5 years studies. This last year focuses on a five months conservation on a paper based object I have been lent, and three different work placements. My dissertation will be split as follows : conservation report and history of the treated object, and a scientific study of interest to conservators.
Please click here to view my CV.
Many thanks to Brittany for letting me be part of this project !