Emma Nichols
Clothworkers' Company
Summer | 2012

“QEST and The Clothworkers’ Company made all the difference to me in achieving my dream of a career in book and paper conservation”. After Emma completed a BA in Fine Art and History of Art at Aberystwyth University, she decided that she wanted to pursue a career in conservation. Emma volunteered for a year at two conservation studios in the Midlands before studying the two-year MA in Conservation at Camberwell College of Arts in London. QEST and The Clothworkers’ Company funded the second year of her MA. Without this scholarship Emma explains that she would have had to work part-time to fund the studies and residence in London. She feels that being able to dedicate her time fully to the MA gave her time to gain extracurricular experience, including a work placement funded by QEST and The Clothworkers’ Company, which helped her to earn a distinction. A few weeks after graduating in July 2013 Emma was offered her first full-time job in conservation at Cambridge University Library.

Upon starting at Cambridge Emma worked on a wide variety of projects, including the design of a new housing system for fragile mica paintings and the preparation of collection items for exhibition. In addition, as a direct consequence of a project she undertook during her funded work placement, Emma was able to help the Library become involved with York University’s ‘Books and Beasts’ project, a major investigation of species type in medieval European parchment production. This has subsequently made Cambridge University Library one of the most significant contributors to the project.

In January 2014 she was appointed as one of the project conservators of the Lewis-Gibson Genizah Collection, a unique collection of medieval Hebrew manuscript fragments. Emma is thoroughly enjoying the experience of being able to work on such notable and diverse material. In the longer term she hope to secure a permanent position working in a library, museum or archive and to work towards gaining Professional Accreditation for Conservator-Restorers.

“I have always had a passion for the arts, history, heritage and craft and I feel so lucky to work in a profession that encompasses all these disciplines. I am so grateful to QEST and The Clothworkers’ Company for enabling me to pursue my dream career”


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