Mark Searle

Conservator (Furniture and Frames), Knole

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Mark Searle - Conservator (Furniture and Frames)

Mark Searle has spent most of his time tucked away in Knole’s back rooms since starting work last summer. A specialist in picture frames, he has been working on a collection from the Reynolds Room thought to date from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

Mark Searle in the Conservation Studio at Knole

It’s a painstaking task as many of the gilded frames have been over painted several times, hiding their original decorative scheme. 

Mark became interested in conservation while he was studying archaeology and classics at Edinburgh University. He went on to complete a further degree in conservation studies at the City and Guilds of London Art School specialising in wood, stone and decorative surfaces. 

After working in private practice at Titian Studios in London, a restoration studio focusing on gilding and laquerwork, he joined the Guildhall Art Gallery as a frames conservator working on the gallery’s magnificent collection of Victorian frames, before moving to the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. There Mark worked on a range of frames from the early seventeenth century up to the present day. 

Mark has now emerged from the dusty rooms to work in the Knole Conservation Studio. His first task was a large nineteenth century gilded mirror with a Kentian frame in desperate need of attention. Dampness had damaged the frame, particularly the gilding, and Mark stabilised it structurally before restoring its decorative scheme. 

As a longtime admirer of Knole’s collection, Mark is delighted to have the chance to work in the studio and share his knowledge with visitors to the house.