Conservation Studio Manager, Knole
As head of Knole’s pioneering conservation studio, Siobhan Barratt is passionate about showing visitors exactly what conservators do and sharing their knowledge of the collection.
Siobhan’s aim is to show visitors that conservation is not just about cleaning a piece of fabric or painting a chair, but about discovering as much about an object as possible and bringing its stories to life.
Knole has an investigative approach to conservation and the research carried out before an object is even touched is crucial. Conservators collaborate with historians, curators and scientists on an object’s history, any additions or modifications and what sort of treatment it needs.
Siobhan came to Knole in 2011 after a regional role with the National Trust in the South East. She originally worked as a project conservator preparing for the opening of the conservation studio, before becoming its manager last year.
Her interest in conservation started with paper - Siobhan studied paper conservation at Camberwell Art College and originally worked as a freelance paper conservator for a range of museums and galleries.
She now works with a variety of objects although paper still has a special place in her heart. She was thrilled when Knole’s Gatehouse Tower opened last year and its shelves could be filled with books – some had been packed away in the tower since the 1960s and others were found in the hayloft above the stables and in the old kitchen.
Not all conservation can take place at Knole and part of Siobhan’s job has been working out which items needed to be set off-site. The beautiful Spangled Bed, furnished with late sixteenth or early seventeenth century silk hangings embellished with applique spangles, has been sent off-site and is expected to take five years to clean and conserve.