Conservation & Philanthropy

Patricia Robertson Fund

The aims of the Association of Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Society (ArtsNational) are the promotion and advancement of aesthetic education, the cultivation and study of the decorative and fine arts and the preservation of our cultural and artistic heritage.

Mrs Patricia Robertson OAM
Founder of Sydney ArtsNational
Founding Chair of Association of ArtsNational
Patron of ArtsNational

The Story

Founding Chair and current Patron, Patricia Robertson, had long recognized that conservation is a significantly under-funded area of the arts and suggested that ArtsNational could make a meaningful difference to this vital work. In 2009 the Association of ArtsNational celebrated its 20th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, it was decided to actively support the conservation of Australian cultural materials in accordance with the ArtsNational mission statement and spirit of giving.

Subsequently, ArtsNational was pleased to make a three-year commitment to an annual Association of ArtsNational Student Conservator Award, providing financial support for outstanding conservation graduates.

Appropriate mechanisms were then put in place by the Association to establish a separate permanent resource to further the cause of conservation and be derived exclusively from voluntary donations. This new fund, known as the Patricia Robertson Fund (PRF) was officially launched in 2014.

Through the fund, ArtsNational has supported members of the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM) with the commitment growing and expanding over the ensuing years.

In 2014, the PRF awarded an emerging young graduate to develop conservation skills within an overseas workplace environment. In 2015 and 2016, the fund was used to further the professional training of conservators either within Australia or internationally.

In early 2017 a new agreement between the Association of ArtsNational and the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM) was formed. It was agreed that for three years (2017-2019) three awards would be granted annually.

The administration of the PRF is conducted by the Executive Committee of the Association of ArtsNational and reviewed annually. Operation of the fund is reported bi-annually to ArtsNational Council.

Selection Panel and Criteria

The selection panel is chaired by the current Chairman of the PRF and Committee Members are ArtsNational Patron, Patricia Robertson, the National Chairman and National Treasurer.

In September 2019 the partnership agreement between ArtsNational and AICCM was renewed for another three years (2020-2022).

The selection criteria of the award:

  • Benefit to recipients’ career
  • Benefit to the AICCM and conservation profession
  • The recipient to be known as the ArtsNational mid – Career Scholar
  • ArtsNational Scholarships of $1000 would be awarded to the AICCM Student of the Year in both the University of Melbourne and Canberra University course in Material Conservation.
  • This award recognises a student conservator who has high academic achievement and has made a contribution to the conservation profession.
  • The awardees to be determined by the respective Course Convenor
  • The recipients to be known as ArtsNational SCHOLARS
  • The three awards to be announced each year at the annual AICCM National Conference in November

An extra ArtsNational MID-CAREER SCHOLARSHIP of $2000 has generously been made available by ArtsNational Armidale (2019, 2020,2021,2022) and by ArtsNational Bowral (2022) to a mid-Career conservator with a minimum of ten years conservation practice.

AICCM – ArtsNational GRANTS & AWARDS 2022

In 2022 the PRF donated $8,000 to the Australian Insitute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM) for three 2022 Mid-Career Scholarships and two Student Conservator of the Year Awards.

  • ArtsNational Armidale contributed $2,000 to fund an additional Mid-Career Scholarship.
  • ArtsNational Bowral donated $2,000 to fund yet another Mid-Career Scholarship.
  • ArtsNational Canberra donated $1,000 for the Conservation Student of the Year Scholarship for the University of Canberra.
  • ArtsNational Yarra donated $1,000 for the Conservation Student of the Year Scholarship for the University of Melbourne.

Mid-Career Scholarships

Peter Mitchelson

The 2022 AICCM ArtsNational Mid-Career Scholarship was awarded to Peter Mitchelson to enable him to attend a book conservation program developed specifically to acquire skills and experience in the conservation of 17th century vellum bindings.

Evan Tindal

The 2022 AICCM ArtsNational Armidale Mid-Career Scholarship was awarded to Evan Tindal to enable him to attend the “Conservation and Repair of Architectual and Structural Metalwork” course at West Dean College to further his development in conservation.

Jennifer O’Connell

The 2022 AICCM ArtsNational Bowral Mid-Career scholarship was awarded to Jennifer O’Connell to enable her to attend a “Thread by Thread Tear Repair” workshop.

Student Conservator of the Year Awards

Belinda Muir

The 2022 AICCM ArtsNational Student Conservator of the year at the University of Canberra was awarded to Belinda Muir.






Daniel Bornstein

The 2022 AICCM ArtsNational Student Conservator of the year at the University of Melbourne was awarded to Daniel Bornstein.

ArtsNational GRANTS & AWARDEES 2021

ArtsNational Patricia Robertson Fund (PRF) & Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM)

In 2021 the PRF funded three AICCM ArtsNational Mid-Career Scholarships, including, for the third year in a row, ArtsNational Armidale funding one of the $2,000 AICCM ArtsNational Mid-Career Scholarships.

Lisa Charleston
Charlotte Walker
Sherryn Vardy

ArtsNational Canberra and ArtsNational Yarra each donated $1,000 to the PRF in 2021 to be allocated to fund the Student Conservator of the Year from the University of Canberra and the University of Melbourne.

Ange Costello
Cheralyn Lim


2021 AICCM/ArtsNational Mid-Career Scholarship

Lisa is the Conservation Technician at Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and is responsible for the practical care and conservation treatment of frames in the collection.

Lisa received the scholarship to undertake a specialised frame gilding techniques course. By attending the course Lisa will gain further skills and confidence in frame conservation methodology and practice, directly benefiting TMAG’s significant frame collection.


2021 AICCM/ArtsNational Mid-Career Scholarship

As an Objects Conservator at Museums Victoria, Charlotte is often responsible for mounting the costume collection that spans from early 19th century to present day.

Charlotte has received the Scholarship to attend a suit of pattern making courses at the Centre for Adult Education, Melbourne, to make underpinnings and supports for historical garments.


2021 AICCM/ArtsNational Armidale Mid-Career Scholarship

Sherryn is a private paintings conservator who runs Gippsland Heritage Conservation, the only conservation service in the Gippsland region in Victoria.

 This scholarship provides a two-way learning opportunity with the team at Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, where Sherryn can learn from and assist them with treatments while gaining access to major equipment in a long-established laboratory. TMAG contributed a substantial amount towards the scholarship.


2021 AICCM/ArtsNational Canberra

‘Student Conservator of the Year’
University of Canberra

Ange is a student member of AICCM and new to the field of conservation, but has actively contributed to the AICCM and its activities. She is highly committed to becoming part of the profession and to assist her progress has made numerous contacts both in her home state of Queensland and in the ACT where she is studying.


2021 AICCM/ArtsNational Yarra

‘Student Conservator of the Year’

Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation
University of Melbourne

Cheralyn is a committed and strong advocate for cultural materials conservation and during her Masters of Cultural Materials Conservation, demonstrated high academic merit, contributed to the AICCM and collaborated inclusively with cultural communities. It is with great pleasure that the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation nominated Masters graduate Cheralyn Lim as the 2021 AICCM Conservator of the year.

ArtsNational GRANTS & AWARDEES 2020

The partnership with the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM) is continuing to provide an annual mid-career scholarship that benefits the recipients’ career and benefits the AICCM and the conservation profession. In addition, in 2019 and 2020 ArtsNational Armidale have provided an additional mid-career scholarship.

Due to the COVID-19 situation the 2020 AICCM Awards were announced at an online event on 1 December 2020 with virtual toasts and applause. Normally the awards ceremony is attached to an in-person conference or workshop event.


ArtsNational Scholarships of $1000 have been awarded to the AICCM Student of the Year at both the University of Melbourne and Canberra University course in Material Conservation. This award recognises student conservators who have high academic achievement and have contributed to the conservation profession.

The AICCM Student Conservator of the Year for the University of Canberra was Clare Kirk.

Through this difficult year Clare stood out due to her commitment to the profession and her ability to seek out advice from professional conservators to assist with her work. She is currently working at the Australian War Memorial as a Preventive Conservator while completing her studies.

The AICCM Student Conservator of the Year for the University of Melbourne was Lisa Mansfield.

Lisa has contributed significantly to the AICCM over a short period of time. She has served as a branch member on the Victorian Division and is currently both the National Council SIG/Event Coordinator and the Emerging Conservators SIG Co-convenor. She was also a member of the organising committee for both the 2019 National Conference and the 2019 Managing Risks to Collections Preventive SIG conference. Lisa has acted as Treasurer and President for the University of Melbourne’s student body (SC@M) and initiated the SC@M/AICCM mentoring programme.


The mid-career scholarships are supported by the ArtsNational Patricia Robertson Fund.

Nicholas Flood was awarded the ArtsNational Mid-Career Scholarship

Nick will attend a metal coatings selection and specification course with the Australasian Corrosion Association, to build on his knowledge and expertise in outdoor sculpture and metals conservation.

Nick plans to share this knowledge with conservators locally and has been invited to Taiwan in 2021 (if international travel permits) to lecture on the conservation of painted sculpture in a weeklong workshop held by the Juming Museum.

Tess Evans was awarded the Mid-Career Scholarship funded by ArtsNational Armidale.

Tess has been awarded the mid-career scholarship to further her research into the potential of a commercial biocide to treat mould growth. Tess has completed Masters-level research in this area and is currently working with a manufacturer to create a viable commercial product. The scholarship will support further research and product trials.


Alice Cannon is the new AICCM President. Alice has been Vice President and was nominated for the role of President at the AICCM AGM. Alice’s first order of business was to notify the Mid-Career Scholars of their awards.


Other positive news, in what was a difficult year, was the overwhelming support of ArtsNational Societies. In 2020 more than half of the ArtsNational Societies contributed $8977.00 to the PRF. Interest earned by the PRF in 2020 to September was $2407.00 which brought the total income for 2020 over $11,000.

Thank you to all ArtsNational Societies that continue to support the PRF, especially ArtsNational Armidale.

I look forward to the support of ArtsNational Societies in 2021 to enable the continued funding for the ongoing education of Australian conservators.

Grants & Awardees 2021 – 2014

Nicholas Flood FIIC, PMAICCM
Australian National Maritime Museum

ArtsNational Conservation Scholarship Recipient

Each year the Association of ArtsNational works together with the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials in offering a substantial ArtsNational scholarship.  The AICCM offers recommendations of talented and industrious students and awards are granted by ArtsNational to assist these students with the costs of conservation projects and studies.

Nicholas is currently employed at the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) as the Senior Conservator – Special Projects. As part of his duties, he is responsible the conservation of artistic, historic and technology objects held by the museum. These objects include painted contemporary sculpture (Cover image), a lighthouse structure (Figure 1) and large industrial equipment.

With his ArtsNational Mid-career Scholarship, Nick has been able to attend the Australasian Corrosion Association’s Coating Selection and Specification training program. This course has provided him with new knowledge on modern protective coating and given him the ability to design and document paint specifications.

This has been of substantial benefit to Nick in his career, to the Australian National Maritime Museum, and to the conservation profession itself.  It is through training like this that the gap between technical and ethical considerations can be bridged, leading the way for better preservation outcomes for painted outdoor sculpture and cultural material across Australia.

Pictured here is Sydney’s Cape Bowling Green Lighthouse in 2017 before treatment, and how it looks today after the completion of Nick’s project.

Elizabeth McCartney
Manager, Conservation at Museums Victoria.
2019 ArtsNational MID-CAREER SCHOLAR

Elizabeth has been awarded the scholarship to attend the course ‘Conservation and Repair of Architectural and Structural Metalwork’ at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation (UK) in February 2020.  West Dean College is an internationally recognised and widely respected conservation education institution.  In her role Elizabeth directs the conservation program that looks after the Victorian State Collection.  The collection is substantial and varied and it includes a large number of technology items made from metal.

In particular, she is the project conservator for the Great Melbourne Telescope (GMT) Restoration. Erected at the Melbourne Observatory in 1869, for three decades the GMT was the largest operational telescope in the world.  In 1945 it was sold for reuse at Mt Stromlo Observatory near Canberra and after modernisation it continued to be used for astrophysical research.

Wendi Powell
Senior Paper Conservator 
International Conservation Services

Wendi Powell has been awarded the ArtsNational Armidale Mid-career Scholarship to secure a place in the 7 week-long Preservation & Conservation of Photographic Materials Course held by The Centre for Photographic Conservation in London, England in 2020. This is a seven week ‘Certificated’ career and professional development course held annually for experienced conservators seeking to increase and develop their knowledge, skills and experience in the field of photographic conservation.

This course will help Wendi to broaden her knowledge and skill base in the field of photographic conservation. The course entails the history of photography and the theory of photo-chemistry and as well teaches practical hands-on skills for the preservation and conservation treatment of photographic materials. It will also enable Wendi the opportunity to assemble a collection of comparative images for the identification of different types of photographic materials.

Daniel Schwartz
2019 AICCM/ArtsNational Student Conservator of the Year- University of Melbourne

Daniel is a committed and strong advocate for cultural materials conservation and during his Masters of Cultural Materials Conservation, achieved high academic results and facilitated conservation programs with broader communities.

In particular, Dan led a reorganisation project at the museum storage facility in Bathurst NSW with support from a Grimwade Centre’s Willem Snoek Conservation Award in 2018. Dan showed leadership skills whilst working on this regionally relevant and hands-on project, together with conservation and curatorship students.

Rebecca Negri
2019 AICCM/ArtsNational Student Conservator of the Year -University of Canberra

Rebecca has been student representative on the AICCM local council for over a year. She has been active and provided a good link between the organisation and the student body.

Rebecca has been actively involved in the conservation profession and has undertaken internships with the Australian War Memorial and has undertaken significant work on a family portrait outside her regular studies. As well as treatment, this project has involved sympathetic liaison with the family to ensure their needs are met.

Kelly Leahey

Kelly is a paper conservator at the State Library of Queensland.

The PRF award will enable Kelly to attend the joint American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Photographic Materials Group (AIC PMG) and the International Council of Museums – Committee for Conservation, Photographic Materials Working Group (ICOM-CC PMWG) conference and workshop, New York, in February 2019.

Emma Anderson
2018 – AICCM University of Canberra Student of the Year

Emma is in her second year at the University of Canberra and has achieved exceptional academic results. She has also thrown herself into engagement with the AICCM and the heritage and conservation world with enthusiasm, commitment with proven organisational abilities. Joining AICCM ACT Council early in her degree, Emma has taken on the role of Student Representative and has participated in activities with the council.

She has also undertaken volunteer work with the Australian National Museum of Education at UC, the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre, and the National Archives of Australia.

Sadra Zekrgoo
2018 – AICCM University of Melbourne Student of the Year

Sadra has made an outstanding contribution to the broader community while completing his 2018 PhD thesis on ‘Persian Inks: A study on traditional writing matters used in Persia (15th – 18th CE) through collection of recipes, historical reconstruction and non-invasive analysis of University of Melbourne’s Middle-Eastern manuscript collection.

Sadra’s thesis investigated Persian manuscripts and the re-construction of Persian inks according to historically correct recipes and analysis with non-destructive analysis techniques including False Colour Infrared (FCIR) photography.


The ArtsNational mid-Career Scholarship was awarded to Dr Wendy Reade.

Wendy attended and had her paper accepted at the biennial International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICANNE) conference in Munich, April 2018. Her paper related to her work on reconstructing a very rare example of a 3400-year-old Egyptian fresco painted pavement from Amarna held at the University of Sydney Museums. 

2017 AICCM University of Canberra Student of the Year

Danica Auld was awarded ArtsNational Scholar. Danica completed her Batchelor degree in Heritage and Conservation in 2016 with exceptional results and continued on into Honours. Her honours project explored the materiality, meaning and potential of community engagement of an unusual secreted group of handmade textiles, embroidered aprons, from the former Willow Court mental asylum in New Norfolk Tasmania. Danica furthered her studies by commencing a Masters in Textile Conservation course at the University of Glasgow in September 2018.

2017 AICCM University of Melbourne Student of the Year

Robyn Ho was awarded ArtsNational Scholar. Robyn achieved an extremely high academic achievement in the Masters by Coursework Cultural Materials Conservation. Robyn while working full time with 6 degrees architects undertook country work with the Robin Boyd Foundation as a collection’s management volunteer and on the Carlton United Brewery archaeological site and the National Gallery of Victoria live conservation project in 2015.In the same year Robyn was part of the restoration of Victorian Trades Hall Old Council Chamber Project Team. She also undertook an internship placement with the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology (SPIA) on a significant Chinese mural painting.


A subsidised travel grant was awarded to conservator Alex Ellem a Melbourne based conservator to attend the joint Canadian Association for Conservation – “Association Canadienne pour la Conservation et la Restauration”(CAC-ACCR) and American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) conference in Montreal, Canada in May 2016.

A subsidised travel grant was awarded to conservator Amanda Pagliarino QAGOMA Queensland to attend the joint International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) Congress and International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA) conference “Saving the Now: Crossing Boundaries to Conserve Contemporary Works” in Los Angeles in September 2016.


PRF funding subsidised attendance by conservators at workshops presented in Australia by two leading international conservators. Dr Martin Jürgens, photographic conservator from the Rijksmuseum Netherlands in Sydney and Dr Yvonne Shashoua, Senior Research Scientist in Conservation and Science at the National Museum of Denmark, in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Funding also contributed towards a Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) workshop held at the University of Melbourne which was led by experts from Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) San Francisco at the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne.


The PRSF scholarship recipient was Emily Harris, a 2013 graduate of the Melbourne Conservation Masters Course, as the inaugural beneficiary of the Patricia Robertson  Scholarship Fund. The scholarship enabled Emily to spend several months in the UK gaining an understanding of the efforts of international institutes in monitoring technology to inform preventive and intervention strategies for outdoor artworks and significant heritage buildings.

The Future

The PRF has been made possible by generous individual philanthropy and an initial investment by the Association of ArtsNational. The aim of the fund is to provide an annual programme of awards to deepen the knowledge and thus extend the reach and scope of conservators working in Australia. Additional funds were given by the Association of ArtsNational in February 2017 taken from nonoperational income to enable the fund to donate from interest only dollars and not draw down from the reserves.

A growing number of ArtsNational societies contribute annually to the fund.  Such contributions are greatly appreciated, and this helps towards the Patricia Robertson Fund making a difference to the Australian cultural landscape.

“Even small contributions to the fund will allow ArtsNational to achieve an enormous amount” – Pat Robertson

Please direct enquiries to Chair of PRF Annie Abbink: