Venice in Peril Chairman wins new heritage award
By Emily Sharpe, The Art Newspaper (online edition), 27 June 2011
The International Institute for Conservation (IIC) has named Anna Somers Cocks, chairman of Venice in Peril and the editorial director of The Art Newspaper, as the first recipient of its Advocate Award. The prize recognises creative supporters, policy makers and influential thinkers-those not necessarily directly linked to the conservation profession-who use their talents to find sustainable heritage preservation solutions.
In an interview with the president of the IIC, Jerry Podany, Somers Cocks discussed the changes in the public's view of heritage conservation over the past three decades: "I think there is a greater awareness of the fragility of our world. Perhaps the heritage conservation world has grown as the ecological conservation world has grown; we are now more keenly aware that things get used up," adding: "You have to make a choice and recognise that we have power over the future of objects, over their survival."
Somers Cocks also noted the public's growing appetite for learning about how things are made. "People are fascinated by the making of a work of art, and they are equally intrigued by how an object is 'fixed'.people love makeovers." She stressed the need for collaboration between conservators, curators and historians to bring more context to an object-to bring life to it. She cited the recent conservation of an early 16th-century Tuscan crucifix in the collection of the Curia in Venice, noting that the while all of the technical aspects of the treatment were discussed at the work's official unveiling, the crucifix's somewhat grisly backstory was not mentioned. For centuries, the crucifix was carried in a procession, marching condemned prisoners to the Piazzetta where they were then decapitated. "You have to think about what will catch the imagination of the public and, for that matter, the trustees, if you are going to defend your budgets and your existence."
A full transcript of the interview can be found in the June issue of the IIC's News in Conservation as well as on the organisation's website