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Quit your job, become a… conservator

Posted at 8:00 am, April 13, 2015 in Fun London

Lucy Branch

Lucy Branch, 39, Director of Antique Bronze Ltd

How did you get into the sculpture conservation game?
‘I’m really lucky, because my family background is in restoration. Both of my parents are restorers and ran their own business, which I’ve taken over. The field holds a lot of appeal for me, because it involves both the arts and sciences, and that’s quite a rare thing, careerwise. Joining the family business probably isn’t everybody’s ideal career choice! But working on spectacularly different objects every day in different environments is what I love.’

Did you get to see lots of amazing sculptures growing up?
‘Absolutely! Statues would come in that had been run over, so Iíd see them flat as a pancake in the workshop. My father worked on nearly everything you can imagine in London ñ the Albert Memorial, Eros, Cleopatraís Needle and Nelsonís Column, which he climbed up after the war to check whether it had any movement in it. All of the big things in London were involved in our lives growing up.’

What have been your favourite projects to work on?
‘We did the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace just before Kate and Will got married. That was a huge project because it was in a terrible condition – it was so lovely to see people climbing on it and standing in the fountain on the day. But we also look after lots of things like Nelson’s Column and the dolphins in the Trafalgar Square fountains, because of all the damage that occurs from the public. We clean and try to stabilise and protect sculptures to stop them from degrading.’

What’s the worst thing about the job?
‘We work outside because we deal with objects that can’t be moved – we can’t shift Nelson or Cleopatraís Needle! So we have to work with the weather and the public. It’s one of the coldest jobs you can get!

Better than being in an office, though?
‘Sometimes I think a warm laboratory-style studio would be quite nice! But you just can’t beat working on these high-profile objects.’

Hours 40hrs p/w

Starting salary £24,500 p/a

Qualifications Degree or work experience in a relevant field.

Or why not become a traffic controller instead?

Interview by Eddy Frankel

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