Hyderabad - The first overseas project under our Commonwealth Heritage Skills Programme

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Meet our 6 UK-based trainees and find out what they hope to bring to and learn from the course.

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Carmen Bowes

I originally studied Classics as an undergraduate and from this I took my interest in classical material culture and its reception in later art and architecture and applied it to an MSc in Conservation of Historic Buildings. Growing up and later studying in Bath, I have always had a fondness for neoclassical architecture and started my career working with such buildings. I am very much looking forward to seeing how the form and style was executed within the Former British Residency in Hyderabad.

I have gone from starting my career with some grand, polite buildings to wanting to have a better understanding of vernacular structures from which they evolved. Based in Herefordshire, I currently work as a heritage consultant in a small conservation architecture practice, Montez Architecture, which has a particular specialism in working with historic timber frame structures. A large part of my role is to work out how a building has evolved over time, and to do this well I have had to develop my knowledge of traditional building crafts and understand from what they were built, by whom, and how this has influenced their form and function – there is only so much you can learn from books! I am hoping that the Traineeship will not only increase my knowledge of lime, but also by having the opportunity to work alongside others in India, it will enhance my ability to pass on the skills and help to demystify lime to those maintaining the heritage assets that I have the honour to work with, including charity groups and young families.

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Alannah Hay

I recently graduated with a BA(Hons) in the Conservation of Stone, Wood and Decorative Surfaces, from City and Guilds of London art school, which was a big change from my career in marketing. When I was growing up I would often help my nan clean the local church, or my grandad repair garden stoneware. So since retraining to a career where I get to work with my hands with similar materials and settings, I’ve felt in my element. In my final year of study, I majored in a plaster object, with a dissertation written about copperas limewash as I love working with these materials in particular, and this traineeship will really add to my understanding of these materials.

I’m excited to have practical hands-on training in India, as I feel that there is a lot to be learned from conservators with experience working in warmer climate conditions and with different techniques and traditions. I'm especially looking forward to the field visits, as I’ve never had the chance to visit India and see the historic architecture there. I’ve always been awed and inspired by the craftsmanship involved in historic buildings, which is why I’m passionate about conserving them. I’m also a fan of classic motorcycles so I will be keeping an eye out for those too. This traineeship is a really unique opportunity, I truly want to make the most of that, and also hope to gain some lifelong colleagues, and friends, that I can continue to learn from throughout my career.

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Alex Knowles

Born outside Manchester and proud of my northern roots I have recently graduated with Distinction in my Masters of Architecture from Queens University Belfast, having previously completed my undergraduate in Architecture at Liverpool John Moores University. My thesis work was a social commentary on the current attitudes towards our built heritage and proposed an alternative way of utilising it, the project was nominated for the RIBA Presidents Medal. Currently I am working for Belfast based Architecture practice Consarc gaining valuable experience working on a range of projects both across the UK and Ireland.

The awkward beauty of old buildings has always intrigued me, and I have always thought there was something more to be made from their condition; be it a slow and natural decay or a violent and abrupt end; their history and the marks they leave have a storybook like reverence. In an era of highly polished buildings with reflective glass facades and soulless elevations there is something truly unique about being able to witness the patina of aged materials laid bare across the skin of a building; they trigger something in us, something innate and almost primitive; they offer the last line of defence to the world of standardisation and globalisation. I am perhaps most intrigued by the preservation and adaptation of our built heritage as well as out of the box thinking with regards to re-using the existing built fabric. My thesis work was a social commentary on the current attitudes towards our built heritage and proposed an alternative way of utilising it, the project was nominated for the RIBA Presidents Medal.

I’m looking forward to getting hands on, practical experience in the field of conservation as well as the opportunity to work and learn alongside other young practitioners, experienced professionals, and locals to make a difference and preserve our shared built heritage.

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Morgan-Ellis Leah

I am Morgan, a Heritage Consultant and Conservation Assistant for a Conservation Architectural practice in Canterbury. As someone who grew up visiting cathedrals, churches and National Trust properties for fun, I have always loved architecture!

I first got the chance to develop this passion for historical architecture via my History of Art BA at the University of York and Medieval History MPhil at the University of Cambridge. During my holidays, I would practice what I’d learned, taking on internships in architectural conservation and research. As a result, I have been lucky enough to work for such beautiful buildings as Buckingham Palace, Basel Münster, Canterbury Cathedral, the Knole House, Rochester Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

Since leaving university, I wanted to continue working with the buildings I loved, but in a career that would allow me to care for and preserve them for others to enjoy. It is for this reason that I applied for the Traineeship! As someone rather interested in funerary architecture, I am really excited to be able to learn traditional conservation techniques on the Qutb Shahi Tombs! Funerary architecture and tomb monuments often get forgotten when it comes to caring for and conserving them. So, I hope by taking part in the Traineeship, I might learn some of the skills that will enable me to better help this wonderful niche of architecture!

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Dean Sellman

I am a London based Bricklayer, currently working for a family run building company who specialise in works in the heritage and restoration sector.

Having worked as a facade cleaner since leaving school, I made a conscious decision to retrain as a bricklayer in 2019, after having the opportunity to work alongside the facade restorers and bricklayers on a project that the company I worked for at that time undertook.

And from picking up the trowel for the 1st time, I felt that I had finally found my calling, and haven’t looked back since!

I first obtained my City and Guilds Bricklaying Level 1, and then moved into bricklaying full time with my current employers, who have since furthered my learning and development, by allowing me to work on a variety of projects, and also furthered my training by sending me to The Building Crafts College, where I am a 2nd year student studying Bricklaying Standards Level 2/3. I have also trained under the expert eye of Dr Gerard Lynch, and have obtained certifications in Introduction to, and Advanced Tuck Pointing, to allow me to be able to undertake the finer works within my trade.

I am extremely proud, thankful and excited to be given the opportunity to attend the Architectural Conservation Training Programme in Hyderabad. I’m looking forward to learning the rhymes and reasons behind the conservation project, the traditional methods used within the building and restoration/heritage sector of India, and experiencing a different culture which I may never have the opportunity to do again. It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity to work and learn on a unique project, which will hopefully secure the building’s beautiful past and safeguard its future for generations to come.

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Chloe Tomlinson

I’m Chloe; born and raised near Exeter in Devon and based down here too. The pandemic lockdowns kicked off a bit of re-evaluating for me and I took the plunge into a Historic Conservation MA after a lifetime of loving crumbly old buildings as a hobby. While pondering what to write my dissertation about, a job opportunity in a scagliola workshop in Devon materialised and I couldn’t let it go. I’ve been immersed in the weird and wonderful world of “scag” for about a year and half and I know that I want my contribution to the future of building conservation to be practical and crafts-based. I’m so excited to get to take part in this traineeship; I’m most looking forward to the hands-on stuff, especially getting to work with lime, but also the chance to get out and about on site visits, learn loads from the local experts and get some exploring done!

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For full course information see the itinerary

For further information on this see the Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme website.