Scroll: A fresh new conservation publication by students & for everyone

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Cover image for Scroll Volume 2. Image courtesy of the Scroll editorial staff.

By Emma Dacey and the Scroll Editorial Team

In Naarm (Melbourne), Australia, during the ups and downs of COVID-19 isolation orders that shaped 2020 and 2021, three conservation students fanned the spark of an idea to establish a student conservation publication. We were studying at the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne but doing so in isolation, separated from our cohort. Driven by a need for connection with fellow students, Scroll became a platform for collaboration and engagement. Submissions to Scroll are not judged as finished works but rather as opportunities for students to improve writing abilities and refine ideas. Editorial feedback is provided openly by the editors over several rounds, allowing contributors to make adjustments over time. This creates a fertile ground for students to express their ideas outside the constraints of assignments.

After navigating the uncertainty of developing a publication from scratch, and establishing frameworks and guidelines to guide editorial processes, the pilot edition of Scroll was released in 2021 and was well-received by the conservation community. In 2022, the editorial team grew, and we faced the challenge known as ‘sophomore slump’—would we be able to sustain the enthusiasm that had built as we edited and released our first edition? However, the team was excited to receive strong submissions, both locally and internationally, and was buoyed by the continued interest from our peers in trusting our aim to create something together.

We were proud to launch Volume 2 in November 2022. This volume includes a foreword by AICCM President Alice Cannon and nine submissions that are informative and thought provoking. Articles include a strong representation from conservators and students considering the challenges of intangible cultural heritage. Rowan Frame reviews past treatments of Rothko murals and reflects on how consideration of aesthetic and viewer experiences impact conservation decision-making. Maité Robayo employs field-based research to investigate intergenerational practices and their tenuous hold on continuity. In a reflective piece that also includes interview-based observations, Aslı Günel provides insight to the transfer and accumulation of haptic learning and hand skills.

Other contributions speak to the position of power and need for activism inherent in preserving cultural materials; Eleanor Thomas and Sarah Dodson have co-authored a piece that outlines the dire statistics of gender equality in the arts and argues for activism in conservation to balance the scales. L J Lupgens describes the importance of access to, and engagement with, queer heritage and suggests areas where conservators can work to highlight queer culture.

Papers with a technical focus show us how student research and internships can reveal deep passions for niche aspects of cultural heritage. Reflecting on her surprise at the allure of plastics conservation, Jessica Argall describes her excitement at applying novel methods of cleaning with gels. Leandra Flores articulates her thrill in stabilising a significant leather-bound tome for future use and the growth in confidence that close mentorship supported. Gabriela Lúcio de Sousa uses her submission to share her experience conserving textiles and demonstrates accessible techniques for small/under-funded collections.

Finally, Elizabeth Gralton reflects on a novel about a man working to uncover a mediaeval wall painting and draws parallels between the protagonist’s profession and his perception of the wider world.

The Scroll editorial team is now looking forward to Volume 3, and submissions for this volume are currently open. Contributors can choose to submit an abstract, due 15 April 2023, or submit a full-length piece, due 30 June 2023. More information is available on our Participate page.

Volumes 1 and 2 of Scroll are available to download from the Student Conservators at Melbourne (SC@M) website: Scroll thanks SC@M for their continued support.

Scroll was established on the Country of the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation. The sovereignty of these lands was never ceded. The editors of Scroll acknowledge the Traditional Owners and pay our respects to Elders, past and present.

(Read the article in the June-July 2023 "News in Conservation" Issue 96, 42-44)

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Driven by a need for connection with fellow students during the pandemic isolation, Scroll became a platform for collaboration and engagement, creating a fertile ground for students to express their ideas outside the constraints of assignments.
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