Hyderabad - Traineeship successfully completed
The Architectural Conservation Traineeship in Hyderabad was a hugely positive learning experience for all involved. The Traineeship was coordinated with the World Monuments Fund and was the first overseas project under the Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme.
The teaching delivered by GN Heritage Matters was excellent and gave the Trainees a sound theoretical grasp of the work being carried out on the Former Residency, and how this approach fits within the broader context of conservation management practices in India. This was paired with practical teaching, so Trainees were able to apply classroom learning directly to a live conservation project.
Tangible progress was made by the UK and Indian Trainees alongside skilled craftsmen and architects on the South Porch, and on the Landsdowne Gate, in particular. Trainees learned to slake lime which they then used to re-plaster the Porch. On the Gate Trainees were able to participate in the constriction of the jack arch roof. This was a great practical learning experience and contributed towards the works programme on site.
The teaching programme was supplemented with visits to heritage sites across Hyderabad, from grand palaces to funerary monuments. All site visits were conducted by experts in the heritage sector, giving Trainees the opportunity to better understand contemporary conservation practices in India. This learning experience was generously supported by the Hamish Ogston Foundation.
Coming from a niche craft background like scagliola, the broad range of people, skills and crafts and the depth of knowledge we encountered was a highlight for me. Exposure to different expectations for heritage, crafts and the built environment in India was eye-opening; it definitely made me appreciate the comparatively vast network of support for heritage we enjoy in Europe.
It was refreshing and encouraging to meet local conservation specialists, consultants and architects and to feel part of a global “effort” – this massive shared goal of caring about heritage and doing something to look after it, in a way I hadn’t really thought about before this trip, that feels like a very valuable thing to have experienced.
I feel fully qualified at this point to heartily recommend applying for similar Traineeships. My post-grad conservation course was my only formal experience in heritage before this so I wondered if I might be out of my depth, or that there would be gaps in my knowledge that meant I couldn’t fully engage with all aspects of the traineeship. Happily I found this wasn’t the case at all, and that everyone’s best contributions were actually just their excitement, enthusiasm and open-mindedness. We had a really good bunch of co-adventurers!
“While the itinerary was a busy one and we had plenty of things organised to keep us busy, it never felt like we were ticking boxes or working our way through a to-do list; our enjoyment and interest was always considered and we were encouraged to contribute and share ideas or experiences from our work at home. In that way it felt collaborative, and the welcoming environment made it feel as though we, and any future trainees, could almost shape our own experience of the Traineeship”.
My favourite kind of historic building is one I can properly snoop around in so we were really lucky to have a great guide at the wonderful and impressive Chowmahalla Palace, but I think even luckier to get to see so much of the behind the scenes work at the Former British Residency, where we spent the majority of our time. Getting to see the effect of time and climate on the unrestored parts of the building really made clear the effort, patience and skill required to get the restored parts looking immaculate and underlined the huge scale of the project. I feel lucky to have visited at this stage and really look forward to seeing how it all unfolds.