Bucks New University has launched a company to supply its furniture conservation and restoration graduates with conservation work and private commissions. ??
Called Bucks Conservation, the pioneering enterprise is believed to be the first alumni business model of its kind in the UK. It will channel commercial conservation and restoration projects to BA (Hons) and MA Furniture: Conservation, Restoration and Decorative Arts recent alumni to help them make the transition from education to employment within the conservation sector.??
The University has undertaken furniture conservation work and private commissions for over 20 years, working with prestigious clients such as The Royal Collection, the V&A, National Trust and Lord Rothschild. Private collectors and custodians from the heritage sector have supported the students by providing projects for them to work on. They have also provided locations for ‘live projects’ where the students work on site, undertaking live restoration and conservation projects as part of their degree course. Students work with historical and often priceless pieces, as well as more modern 20th century items.
??Now, under the guidance of the University’s furniture conservation experts, graduates will gain valuable experience in a commercial environment, where they will be employed for 12 to 18 months developing their conservation skills and expertise as well as sharpening their business skills. Selection to join the new company will be by interview and a portfolio review. ??
Dr Campbell Norman-Smith, Course Leader of the MA Furniture: Conservation and Decorative Arts, says: “The launch of Bucks Conservation is a unique opportunity to support our most talented graduates and extend our expertise to a wider client base. We have developed an outstanding reputation over the years and often have an oversupply of commissions. This helps supply meet demand and provides our graduates with exceptional commercial experience which will give them an edge when looking for employment in the conservation and restoration professions.”
??Recent projects undertaken by the Department of Furniture at Bucks include the restoration of a 1937-38 Isokon moulded birch plywood lounge chair owned by Isokon Plus; conservation of a George II Console table from Wilton House, owned by the Earl of Pembroke; cleaning of a gilt frame surrounding a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds from the Courtauld Institute of Art; and restoration of an original Panton Vitra chair. ??
Bucks New University’s furniture heritage goes back some 110 years. Based in High Wycombe, formerly the chair and furniture-making capital of the UK, it is this history which builds the solid foundation for the prestigious furniture department.
The University is renowned for its art, design and craft programmes and was ranked in the top 30 UK universities for art and design in The Guardian’s University Guide 2012. ??The University offers general and specialist courses in furniture design, conservation, restoration, woodcarving, kitchen design, upholstery, interior design and decoration, product design and more. The furniture courses and programmes are part of the National School of Furniture (NSF) which is a unique partnership between Bucks New University and Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, working together to provide education across all levels; from Level 1 (Certificate) through to Level 8 (PhD), creating an educational ‘journey’ with flexible entry and exit points.??
Image 3 caption: John Bly and Lennox Cato, antiques experts who have appeared on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, with an ornamental torchere restored by Bucks New University master’s graduate, Nicola Little, at The Courtauld Gallery in London.