BCD 2019

6 T H E B U I L D I N G CO N S E R VAT I O N D I R E C TO R Y 2 0 1 9 C AT H E D R A L COMMU N I C AT I ON S that, as we democratise access to our cultural heritage, we do not sell the public short by offering something that is dishonest, inaccurate or partial. It is in authenticity that the consideration of our cultural heritage provides us with the firmest and most robust defence for expertise. Icon is a membership organisation that brings together those with a passion for the care of cultural heritage. While focusing on moveable heritage, Icon members play an active and essential role in conservation across the cultural heritage spectrum. Icon’s vision is for cultural heritage to be valued and accessible, and for its future to be enhanced and safeguarded by excellence in conservation. These sentiments are not unique to Icon and can be shared across disciplines and specialisms, as can the Icon themes of advocacy, excellence and engagement. Our historic built environment is part of a rich variety of cultural heritage that takes us from the tangible to intangible, moveable to immovable, and every day to the extraordinary. While all of these complexions may be categorised into different disciplines with distinct, if overlapping, practices, processes and philosophies, we are all united by a shared passion for the past and how it enriches us. Close and productive working relationships on the ground are essential to delivering improved outcomes for our heritage. Teams of specialists including consultants, conservators, contractors, conservation officers and clients are all required. Although there is a risk that the heritage sector can be fragmented, in reality it is this very diversity that may be its greatest strength. We may have diverse practices, but we share a broad foundation in our common principles. The Building Conservation Directory plays an important role in connecting professionals both to the public and to each other. As a specialist resource it celebrates the value and impact of the expert, highlighting the diversity within the field while also strengthening the connections. These connections are vital to nurturing shared respect and greater understanding of individual roles and strengths. The success of collaborative working depends on mutual support, capacity building and acknowledgement of expertise. The delivery of excellence will be achieved if there is a commitment to professionalism and respect for, and recognition of, professional standards and accreditation across the spectrum of specialisms. The sector has much to gain from strengthening and reinforcing the message that we are all working collaboratively toward a shared end. Such collaboration will reap rewards, not only for conservation, but for the wider public benefit. Siobhan Stevenson Foreword I n a world that questions the value of experts and expertise, perhaps the role of the heritage specialist needs to be nurtured and protected as much as cultural heritage itself. There is no doubt that there has been a shift in public opinion away from the view that received wisdom will make the best judgements for the collective good and this could be as true in the conservation of our heritage as in other areas of public life. Built heritage is one of our most important cultural assets. The use and reinvention of historic buildings is a tremendously engaging, anchoring and inspirational part of the fabric of our society. When we encounter the things our predecessors encountered, touch the materials that were shaped and formed in response to other times and cultural influences, and are inspired by the things that brought them delight, we form deep attachments to the past. It is this connection that can link us to the collective memory of our past endeavours and achievements and can have a profound impact on how we advance. Despite the current public perception of experts, it is perhaps unsurprising that we have unprecedented levels of public curiosity in cultural heritage. New technologies and a more connected world offer ever-expanding opportunities to reach and involve more people and there is a growing appetite for conservation professionals to share the passion that they have for their work. It is vital THE INSTITUTE OF CONSERVATION Siobhan Stevenson at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. In addition to her role as Chair of Icon, Siobhan is Head of Collections Care at National Museums Northern Ireland. (Photo: National Museums Northern Ireland)