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 Phil Parkes

Phil Parkes

Reader in Conservation

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

Email
parkes@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 5628
Campuses
3.14, John Percival Building

Overview

I fell into conservation by accident, transferring from the 1st year of a Physics degree to study something that I felt would be more hands-on and practically based. I wasn’t disappointed and over the last 30 years have worked on conserving objects ranging from a prehistoric mammoth’s tooth from the Gower coast to a CD jukebox from Clwb Ifor Bach. In between I have worked on faience tiles from beneath the step pyramid of Djoser (now on display in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha), Roman coin hoards (Carmarthen Museum), and medieval treasures (St David's Cathedral). I enjoy sharing my experience of object-based conservation and analytical techniques during taught practical classes where I guide students working on real objects from museums and heritage organisations. My interest in practical / craft skills has led to me researching and producing maille armour, using traditional techniques and recording my work making a copy of a 15th century standard for fellow enthusiasts to learn from.

We also encourage our students to share their projects via social media.

https://youtu.be/WTKd_xFF3UM

Biography

Career overview

1993-present Conservator at Cardiff University (Senior Conservator from 2006, Reader from 2019).

1992-1993 MGC Internship with Council of Museums in Wales and Newport Museum & Art Gallery.

1992 Freelance work making replicas of museum artefacts for National Museum of Wales.

Education and qualifications

2000 - Accredited conservator

1989-1992 BSc (Hons) Archaeological Conservation, Cardiff University.

Publications

2017

  • Henderson, J. and Parkes, P. 2017. Balancing accountable assessment with holistic professional practice. Presented at: ICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark, 4- 8 Sept 2017 Presented at Bridgland, J. ed.ICOM-CC 18th Triennial Conference Preprints, Copenhagen, 4–8 September 2017. Paris: International Council of Museums pp. art. 0305.

2015

2014

2013

2010

  • Parkes, P. and Watkinson, D. 2010. Computed tomography and X-radiography of a coffin from Dynasty 21/22. Presented at: Decorated Surfaces on Ancient Egyptian Objects: Technology, Deterioration and Conservation, Cambridge, UK, 7-8 September 2007Decorated Surfaces on Ancient Egyptian Objects: Technology, Deterioration and Conservation. London: Archetype Publications Ltd pp. 58-66.

2008

2007

2004

2003

1999

Teaching

Teaching

As an ICON-accredited conservator I bring my experience of working with archaeological and museum collections to the teaching of practical and analytical conservation modules. Over the last 30 years I have worked on conserving objects ranging from a prehistoric mammoth’s tooth from the Gower coast to a CD jukebox from Clwb Ifor Bach. In between I have worked on faience tiles from beneath the step pyramid of Djoser (now on display in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha), Roman coin hoards (Carmarthen Museum), and medieval treasures (St David's Cathedral). I enjoy sharing my experience of object-based conservation and analytical techniques during taught practical classes where I guide students working on real objects from museums and heritage organisations.

Part 2 undergraduate

Course leader

Practical Projects 1

Advanced Practical Skills

Contributory lecturer

Conservation Skills in the Profession

Archaeology Field and Practical Skills 1

Archaeology Field and Practical Skills 2

Postgraduate modules

Course leader

Practical Projects 2

Advanced Practical Projects

Analysis in Heritage Science

Contributory lecturer

Making Conservation Decisions

Traditional Maille-making

Inspired by an object in our laboratory (a 17/18th century maille shirt from Birmingham Museum) I have developed an interest in the manufacture of maille and have been researching the traditional manufacture and crafting skills used in the construction of maille garments. My interest has seen me produce a copy of a 15th century maille standard, based on the A9 from the Wallace Collection. My work reproducing this standard has gathered great interest from around the world, as I have recorded the techniques and the time taken to produce just over 12,000 rings and construct the collar as it would have been done originally.

Through my Instagram account I engage with maille enthusiasts from all over the world on the work that I am doing. More locally I have taught workshops to school groups, showing children the different types of maille that were produced, how it was made and getting them to have a go at producing maille links. Through these craft-based workshops I introduce the broader concepts of conservation and the wider range of work that we carry out at Cardiff University.

Projects

My work at the University has involved many research and commercial projects over the years and a few of the major projects are presented below:

Spotlight on Museums (2020 / 2006)

The first ‘Spotlight on Museums’ survey was undertaken by Jane Henderson & Phil Parkes in 2006 and published in 2007. 106 of Wales's 143 museums across Wales contributed to this valuable source of information which underpinned the ‘Strategy for Museums in Wales’, published in 2010.

The detailed survey looked at the subject, number and significance of collections, access and learning, audience development and physical aspects such as buildings, facilities and storage. It also provided information on the numbers of staff and volunteers working in the sector, working patterns and finance including admission charges, budgets and funding and support arrangements.

Phil Parkes and Jane Henderson have been commissioned to repeat this research in 2020, the results of which will be used to inform Welsh museum strategy over the coming years. Funded by CyMAL (2006), The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales (2020).

Provisions for the Dead in Ancient Egypt (2020)

This project saw the conservation of many of the objects on display in the “provisions for the dead” case in the House of Death, The Egypt Centre. The case is one of the most popular exhibits, and the objects have been on continuous display since the Egypt Centre opened in 1998, with some of them being on display since the 1970s in the old Wellcome Collection housed at Swansea University. Very few, if any, had undergone previous conservation work. The objects were conserved (by Ashley Lingle) and returned to display at The Egypt Centre. Funded by the Association of Independent Museums.

Cardiff Castle – Interpretation Centre excavations (2018/19)

Excavations at Cardiff Castle were conducted in 2005-2006 in the footprint of the New Interpretation Centre. Cardiff Conservation Services, Cardiff University was contracted to conserve a selection of the materials recovered from the excavations. These materials consist of copper alloys, glass, iron, lead, semi-precious stone, shale, silver and wood. A total of 890 small finds and context designations representing 2000+ individual objects were examined and/or treated between November (2018) and May (2019). Conservation was conducted by Phil Parkes and Chris Wilkins. Funded by The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Faience doorway - Djoser's Step Pyramid, Saqqara (2005/6)

This project saw the reconstruction of a doorway from beneath the pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara. The client had a number of the faience tiles that originally formed part of the decorated corridors, and wanted these faience tiles to be displayed in a way that placed them more into context than being displayed in a picture frame.

I designed the structure and made plaster blocks for a colleague, Ian Dennis, to carve with designs copied from a photograph of one of the doorways. Making moulds of these I was able to quickly replicate the large numbers of ‘stone’ features, which were fixed to a lightweight structure allowing the doorway to be taken apart for transport. The blue faience tiles were fixed to this structure, recreating the ‘doorway’ feature that was beneath the pyramid.

The doorway and an Egyptian coffin that I conserved for the same client, are currently on display at the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, as part of an exhibition paying tribute to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani. Funded by Sheikh Saoud Al Thani.

What's In Store (2003)

In 2003 a partnership comprising The Council of Museums in Wales, National Museums & Galleries of Wales and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales commissioned a survey of the Welsh archaeological archive. The survey, undertaken by Jane Henderson and Phil Parkes of Cardiff University, aimed at providing evidence of the extent and physical condition of archaeological archives relating to Wales that exist in museums, archaeological units, universities, other institutions and with independent archaeologists. The extensive survey led to a detailed report about the size and condition of the archive and included a number of recommendations. Following consultation within the profession eight recommendations emerged and these are outlined in the report What's in Store? which was published and presented to Alun Pugh, Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport in March 2004.  Funded by Council of Museums in Wales, National Museum Wales, RCAHMW.