Emma Payne is a researcher and objects conservator based in London. She graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Classics, which encouraged her interest in the investigation and preservation of classical art, leading her to pursue UCL’s professional conservation training programme.
The QEST scholarship enabled Emma to complete her final year at UCL, including internships at the V&A and British Museum. Emma graduated from this programme with distinction in September 2013 and was awarded the Ione Gedye Prize for outstanding practical work in archaeological conservation. She is now qualified to work as a professional conservator.
Emma has since completed her PhD, also at UCL, which focused on examination of nineteenth century plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. She investigated their condition and significance, including factors such as their relationship with the original sculptures and the techniques employed by nineteenth century craftsmen who created the plaster moulds and casts. Emma is now writing a book based on her PhD: ‘Casting the Parthenon Marbles from the Eighteenth Century to the Digital Age’, which will be published by Bloomsbury in 2021. She also continued her practical conservation work, including a fieldtrip to Italy where she conserved finds from Vulci Etruscan-Roman Archaeological Park.
Emma is now based at King’s College London, where she holds a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the Department of Classics for her project ‘The Evolution of Technology and the Interpretation of Classical Sculpture’. By examining the impact of nineteenth-twentieth century technological change on the scholarly interpretation of ancient objects, this research will reveal the profound effect of advances in sculpture reproduction on the understanding of ancient sculpture, as well as exploring how new technologies continue to exert significant influence in this field. As part of this project, she is currently working to organise a workshop and conference, bringing together practising sculptors and scholars of ancient sculpture to explore the material of plaster: its role in the making of sculpture through life-casting and the creation of models, as well as considering the extent to which it was used as a sculptural material in its own right.