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Hamilton Kerr Institute

Fitzwilliam Museum
Conservation students help deliver teacher enrichment

HKI students talked to teachers about how they reconstructed a 15th century painting as part of a successful CPD day.

On 1 May, first year Hamilton Kerr Institute (HKI) students took part in continuing professional development (CPD) session for primary school teachers run by the Fitzwilliam Education Team. The students, Rowan Frame and Joanna Neville, talked to teachers about their experience reconstructing a painting by 15th-century artist Jacopo del Sellaio. The teachers were interested to hear about materials and methods the artist would have used, having spent the morning studying a painting by the same artist that hangs in the Fitzwilliam Museum. 

The CPD session, part of a series run by the museum, used Sellaio’s Cupid and Psyche as a central theme for exploring creative and cross-curricular activities for students. Teachers developed strategies for supporting pupils to respond to paintings, and experimented with art materials and techniques in the Fitzwilliam Museum’s workshop. 

Jo and Rowan explained the techniques they used to reconstruct Sellaio’s painting with photos illustrating each stage of the process. This provided food for thought for the next session where the  teachers got hands-on with egg tempera paints. 

The HKI students enjoyed sharing the surprises and challenges involved in making a 15th-century Italian workshop painting, explaining how much longer it took to prepare wood with gesso than to complete the painting stages, and how painting in egg tempera required precision and patience to avoid a streaky finish. 

The teachers fed-back that they valued hearing from conservators who had tried out the artists’ original techniques, with one saying, ‘The conservators' descriptions of the processes involved in the painting were fascinating.’