The first weekend event of the Festival of Change was a superb day-long symposium on “Legacies and Conservation in a Time of Change”.
The opening session chaired by Dr John Munns, examined how change impacts on two areas of conservation. Helena Byrne of the British Library discussed the challenges of website preservation in the modern world. What do we preserve and how do we record changes within web-based material? Why might we keep such material at all – is it for the content, or as a record of what engages people today, or for future scholars interested in design? With a wealth of information, the presentation was an invaluable guide to the latest thoughts on digital preservation. A link to the Powerpoint is here.
The second speaker, Dr Mia Jackson, who is curator at Waddesdon Manor, gave a double-sided talk about metamorphosis, looking first at the way Ovid’s great poem “Metamorphosis” (and especially images of the story of Apollo and Daphne) was used in late seventeenth-century art and furniture; and then using this material to think about the metamorphosis of materials (whether wood, horn or tortoiseshell) in the creation of French furniture of the period. The talk was in conjunction with the Festival Exhibition, in the Pepys Library, on the Reception of Ovid in Caxton and early printed books.
The Exhibition is open Monday to Saturday 2pm to 4pm until 19th December in the Pepys Library Magdalene College. Entry is free of charge for individuals or groups under 10 in number.
After lunch, the keynote lecture was given by Dame Fiona Reynolds, Master of Emmanuel College and formerly Director General of the National Trust. In a wide-ranging and passionate account of both the history of conservation and also the challenges facing us today, she gave a strong defence of the National Trust’s aim of making the great buildings of the nation more widely available for people.
The symposium concluded with a session on the beautiful house, given by Jim Ede to the University of Cambridge, Kettles Yard.
The archivist, Frieda Midgley, introduced us to the history of the house, which is preserved as Jim Ede intended for visitors to stroll or sit and contemplate the superb collection of twentieth-century art. A recent renovation is nearly complete; and the house is reopening to the public in February.
The afternoon session, chaired by Dr Annja Neumann, concluded with the premier of an evocative and sympathetic film on Jim Ede and the Kettles Yard project by Cary Parker.