Oxford Marries Art and Science

(Work-Chron.com-Houston Chronicle)

Earlier this week I spent some time in Oxford (UK) - for me the home of learning. Did you know you can study Art Conservation at Oxford University? I might just enrol because along with becoming a glass blower, restoring old paintings is also something I wish I could do!

But that's not why I have decided to spend a few days in this beautiful university city. Some of my DNA comes from around this area and so I am retracing, once more, the steps of my ancestors.

If you are thinking, can this be correct? This woman is claiming ancestorial rights in nearly every English county! When your heritage has risen from the goldfields in Australia you end up with DNA looking like a can of Heinz soup! The miners flocked into Central Victoria (in my case) from all around the world and specifically England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and China who were joined by people from European countries and Americans who had been on the Californian goldfields.

My ancestorial homes can be found in Cornwall, Dorset, Wiltshire, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Edinburgh, Dundee and Middle Dalguise in the glorious Tay Valley (Scotland). Each bought their local customs to their new land.

To get us started today here are some black and white photos of Watlington, Oxfordshire- one of my ancestoral homes. My family lived in Britwell Salome a tiny, tiny hamlet nearby as shown below.

Today, as I settle in amongst the beautiful architecture which so enraptured Joseph Mallord William Turner we will learn a little more about the marriage of art and science. Tomorrow we will look at Turner's View of Oxford.

You walk into your organic chemistry class of two hundred students. As you glance around, you sort people into two groups: pre-meds and pre-med wannabes. If you are really inventive, maybe you can imagine a few of your classmates as pre-veterinarian or pre-dental. You have probably forgotten that there are actually some chemistry majors in there. What you likely did not even know is that some of your classmates are prospective art conservators. In fact, art conservators have the same undergraduate chemistry requirements as pre-meds.

This is the first hint that the art conservation field is far more scientific than one might first imagine. According to Ian McClure, chief conservator for the Yale University Art Gallery, “any graduate art school with chemistry graduate or physics graduate applicants regards them with a great deal of interest because they have the capacity to go into the practical side and the research side.” A firm science background allows a conservator to have a more fundamental grasp of the increasingly large number of scientific techniques necessary for conservation work. (yalescientific.org)

This is a short and interesting article by Matthew Chalkley about The Fine Line Between Art and Science. The article discusses the close relationship between science and art and how art restoration is not possible without scientific knowledge and expertise. Sorry there are no pictures.