This 9-day programme was designed to crown the Ceramics Conservation Department’s modular series, by both measuring and expanding the practitioner’s perspective, skills and capacities in a number of key areas. The Graduation Programme achieves these objectives through a varied programme that combines lecture and bench work components with field excursions, written evaluations, practical exercises, team projects, individual projects, practical pottery & kilning, exposure to parallel sciences, as well as individual profiling and mentorship.
- Kindly note that the Graduation Programme is presented once every 12 – 24 months, and that it observes an atypical schedule by starting on a Tuesday morning and concluding on Thursday evening of the following week.
- Please note that the programme pauses on the middle Saturday, resuming again on Sunday morning.
- The formal programme also encompasses the evening of the closing Thursday, which is set aside for the award ceremony and ceremonial dinner.
- The Institute’s courtesy bus generally returns to Port Elizabeth Airport at 08h00 the next morning (Friday), ensuring that participants arrive at the airport at approximately 09h45.
- Candidates under own transport will also have opportunity to depart directly after the ceremonial dinner (22h00) the previous evening.
Introductions to related fields
The Graduation Programme also encompasses lectures by experts in related fields:
- Archaeology: The average, practicing conservator accumulates experience primarily in respect to historical or collectible objects, even though conservation arguably finds its highest expression in terms of archaeological objects. An accomplished conservator is therefore enriched by a correspondingly clear perspective on the science of archaeology. Suitable qualified guest speakers ensure that the graduation candidates enjoy an introduction to archaeology and to the protocols that govern it.
- Analytical techniques: It in not uncommon for conservators to spend years in private practice without availing themselves (or their clients) of the advantages of analytical techniques. A field excursion to a FTIR and XRF laboratory familiarizes the candidates with the relevance and advantages that these techniques can offer the established studio conservator.
- Hands-on pottery & kilning: At the Institute’s facilities, candidates participate in the construction (potter’s clay) and firing of individual, demonstration objects, in order to gain a fundamental understanding of ceramic bodies, the application of decorative techniques and the origin of manufacturing marks and flaws.
- History of South African Ceramics - an overview: A lecture attendance at the School of Ceramic Design, Faculty of Arts, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
- The written evaluations are partly composed of two open-book tests. These open-book tests are based on the course notes of all seven mid-career modules. (Level of difficulty: Medium)
- Not every participant will already have attended each of the seven modules, although all participants will already have attended not less than five individual modules. The lecture notes of any modules not yet attended are typically forwarded to enrolled participants as per the participant’s file records, to reach them well before the Graduation Module. The open book tests are followed by a third evaluation, which is not based on any particular text or source. This third paper will evaluate comprehension, conservation sensibilities and general perceptiveness. (Level of difficulty: Medium+)
Practical assessments & Practitioner’s Profile
- During the programme, the graduation candidates also carry out a series of preset, practical exercises for evaluation and grading.
- Assessors integrate the results of these practical exercises with interview results and knowledge of the individual candidate’s capacities and limitations in order to produce a personal and detailed “Practitioner’s Profile”.
- Each candidate’s Practitioner’s Profile serves as a helpful analysis of the candidate’s personal strengths and limitations as conservator, and its scope therefore extends also beyond bench capacities.
- Participants will also be evaluated based on an individual, prepared project*, which will be physically presented to the assessor upon the first day of class, along with the project documentation, in the form of a hard copy (printed) report, contained in a folder.
- Candidates select a single project object from the following category: A blue and white porcelain object which the participant has personally restored to completion. This may be a plate, vase, tea cup, platter or bowl.
- While each participant’s project object returns home with them, the accompanying report is retained by the Institute.
- Such item should be fully restored - that is, invisible restoration - with proper documentation of the entire process, by way of the report.
- It is required that the condition of the object be photo documented before restoration, mid-restoration and following restoration. This is mandatory. The images in the printed report should also accompany the candidate in a portable digital format - such as on CD or a laptop – to serve the “Presentations” portion of the programme.
- Supplementary diagrams or drawings may also accompany the documentation to assist with the record keeping, but are not essential.
- The pre-prepared project is evaluated on:
- the quality and relevance of the report / documentation, as well as on
- the competence and expertise demonstrated by the physical restoration. Note: The actual, restored object must be present and intact.
- For purposes of the Graduation Programme, actual Guild documentation may not be employed for this project.
- The documentation will be evaluated based on the following, central criterium: The degree to which the recorded information will successfully contribute to possible future re-restoration and to the long-term maintenance of the artifact.
- The documentation / report should also volunteer the restorer’s justification and reasoning in selecting techniques and materials.
- Of the mark attained, 40% derives from the quality and depth of the documentation / report, while the balance is based on the physical results of the restoration.
- The physical restoration is judged on a) final appearance, b) area covered by the restoration materials and c) the astuteness of the restorer’s choice of methods and materials.
- At the outset, the candidate is permitted a maximum of 2 minutes to make representation on behalf of their pre-prepared object, after which they should be ready to respond to questions from the assessor in this regard.
*Prospective participants are encouraged to invite the advice and input of the Graduation Programme’s principal assessor concerning their choice of object or its preparation. Be assured of the Institute’s committed assistance and guidance, to ensure your best achievement in terms of this Programme. The Institute therefore encourages all candidates to liaise freely with our offices and with the principal assessor, so ensuring that each enjoys fullest opportunity to prepare and present their project in accordance with the outlined requirements. To rule out unjust advantage, personal interaction with assessors is generally withheld on weekends preceeding the Graduation Programme.
- The middle Friday of the programme is devoted in its entirety to field visits in other centers, and entails travel undertaken in the courtesy shuttle.
- During the field excursion, graduation candidates will enjoy visits to university-based facilities, including an analytical laboratory, a ceramic design and production school and to museums storage facilities and collections that bear specific relevance to this specialism of conservation.
- Conservation inspires the public’s imagination. Consequently, conservators and restoration practitioners are occasionally asked to carry out presentations for the benefit of a public audience or organization.
- Public presentation is a learnt skill, and one which frequently remains undeveloped - often because suitable entry opportunities for practice is lacking.
- Candidates participate in this portion of the programme as members of competing teams. This exercise seeks to instill an elementary familiarity with basic, digital media equipment and standard presentations software.
- At the certification ceremony, the Institute has the honour of conferring upon each of the successful candidates entrance into the Order of Merit, Laureatus Conservator. A pass is attainable respectively in the classes: “Honoratus” and “Cum Laude”.
"The Institute wishes each prospective candidate every success, both at securing a seat and with their eventual preparations for this prestigious programme. As training institution, we are honoured to usher each graduation candidate towards this meaningful milestone in their standing as practicing conservators."