Born: 16th June 1960
Raised on the family dairy farm, one of 7 children, Robin upon leaving secondary school, (Peninsula Grammar school, Mt Eliza, Australia) trained as a cabinet maker. On early completion of this apprenticeship, travelled to London and resided there for 6 years. During this period Robin studied at the London College of Furniture, Victorian and Albert Museum, and the Study Centre, before commencing work in private practice. In 1986, Robin returned to Australia and established a conservation practise. Since then Robin has worked Australia-wide and internationally as a conservator and in the parallel business RH Conservation Engineering.
Recent collaboration partners:
Hacer Group: Conservation, supervision, documentation involved in the temporarily removal of a 1908 industrial electrical switchboard from the once Bryant and May match factory in Richmond.
City of Port Phillip Sth Melbourne Town Hall, Conservation of interior fittings in the council Chamber and other public areas.
Yale University Art Gallery, development of epoxy based light weight mounting system for roman mosaics from the collection.
St John the Devine Church, New York, NY, Ongoing development of a new washing/cleaning system for tapestries and carpets.
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, modification of motorized scanning easel for x-raying of paintings.
Raheen, Kew, ongoing maintenance of the furniture in the “old “ house.
Villa Alba, Kew, continuing involvement in the conservation of the historic house fabric.
State Library of Victoria, Conservation of collection objects as well as the 19 century furniture and fittings.
City of Yarra, Treatment of original Art Deco furniture from the Collingwood Town Hall.
Melbourne Club, fabrication of 6 brass, 5 branch chandelier modeled on a photograph taken in the club during it’s early years, circa 1870.
Treasurer, Australian Institute of the Conservation of Cultural Materials Inc.
For 2 years full time and then half time, Robin single handedly designed, fabricated and built a new workshop and office (approximately 480 m2) together with moving a house and renovating it on a 6 acre rural property. The workshop was designed specifically for conservation work and the development and manufacturing of the equipment supplied by RH Conservation Engineering.
Visiting lecturer, CCCM, Melbourne University, Technical Examination and Documentation
Treasurer, Australian Institute of the Conservation of Cultural Materials Inc.
Founded RH Conservation Engineering. In this business Robin designs and manufactures specialist conservation equipment, much of this in conjunction with conservators in various specialization. Viewing the product range of this company, you will see a wide range of products, the most involved development project was that of the RH Low Mass Hot Suction Table, this took 5 years full time from the initial concept of a low mass table to the completed product. This development took the basic design of the hot suction table to it’s next generation. RH Conservation Engineering now takes most of Robins’ time, however Robin remains a practicing conservator because of the fulfillment it brings as well as the belief it ensures RH products are more applicable to the conservation profession. Whilst promoting the products and services of RH Conservation Engineering at trade fairs, Robin attends the conferences / congress of conservation institutes internationally, these include; IIC, AIC, ICCOM:CC, AICCM.
Worked 7 weeks for the National Museum of Denmark in their conservation section, working on 17th century church fitments and on the cleaning, consolidation and drying of archaeological wood and rope.
Was contracted to inspect and report on most of the furniture held in the W. R. Johnston Trust and carry out all necessary conservation prior to the assembly of their inital exhibition.
President, Victorian division, Australian Institute of the Conservation of Cultural Materials Inc.
Inspected and reported on the furniture and woodwork in the house “Raheen” the one time catholic archbishops residence, now in private ownership. Over this period Robin completed most of the conservation work reported on. Robin to this day consults and maintains the collection in “Raheen”.
Robin, in collaboration with conservators Sasa Kosinova and Andrew Thorn, undertook the conservation and restoration of the figurehead from the HMS Nelson, the last and largest British 18th century battleship, the figurehead was all that remained and was situated at HMAS Cerberus, Australia. During this treatment, developed treatments utilizing low viscosity and foaming epoxies. The treatment was carried out for the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, where it is displayed.
Returned to Australia and set up a business undertaking conservation of furniture and wooden objects.
Lived in Lyon for the first half of the year to learn french at the Faculty Catholique, Lyon, to gain the linguistic skills to undertake the historical research of french furniture making techniques in the 18th century.
Whilst studying at the London College of Furniture, Robin was asked to make a chair by the City and Guilds of London Institute for presentation to Anthony Heal.
In this period, the ideas for the book, “Techniques of English & French Furniture Making, 1660 - 1820” germinated. This is an area of particular interest to me and as there is no complete book on the subject, this is a work in progress.
Work as a self-employed furniture conservator in London for a private clientele.
While serving my apprenticeship at the Frankston Technical College, Robin accepted commissions for furniture making which were carried out in the workshop on the family farm.
“Thread by Thread Tear Repair” workshop- 2007
A 2 day workshop presented by Prof Winfried HEIBER a.D. & Ms. Petra Demuth, held at the University of Melbourne. Robin developed and manufactured the RH Micro spatula for this technique of tear repair of paintings on textile support.
Structural Treatments of Paintings Workshop- April 2000
3 day workshop held at the Art Gallery of News South Wales and presented by Wieslaw & Aleksander Mitka. RH Conservation Engineering also provided the Hot Suction Table for the 3 of these workshops held in Australia.
The Study Centre, London — 1982
A ten week course on the History of European Decorative Arts
Private Research — 1982
One year full time private research and experimentation on the Japanning, chair caning, painted decoration on furniture, gilding, composition, scagliola, marquetry and verre eglomise
London College of Furniture — 1980-1981
Diploma with commendation in furniture production and design with a specialized study on the historical background to English furniture production and design in the 2nd half of the 18th century. This study was assistance by the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Trust fund and the Potter Foundation.
Frankston Technical College, Australia — 1976-1980
Four year apprenticeship in Cabinet Making, finished in 3 ½ years.
Was presented with the L.H. Waite Craftsmanship Award, an award for outstanding craftsmanship in all trades. During this period also won a bronze medallion for a semi-elipical sideboard, Robins choice for the final year examination piece.
Small Business Development Corporation, Australia — 1979-1980
Two short courses on the setting up and running a small business
Collingwood Technical College, Australia — 1979
Night school in Wood carving and gilding
Frankston Technical College, Australia — 1978
Night school to learn touch typing.
In addition to the above mentioned work, Robin undertake the conservation of singular items as well as consult and undertake treatments where necessary in the care of collections for a range of clients including private collectors, banks, corporations and public collecting institutions in Australia.
In the course of the work Robin undertakes the identification of timber, having developed specialized techniques of micro core sampling and sample consolidation for decayed samples.
In short, Robin is diligent, has a strong work ethic, is an innovative problem solver, has a refined perspective of atheistic, is a creative individual, whilst able to work in a team and follow instructions, Robin has gravitated toward a life of soul professional pursuits.
Robin has strong computer skills, including being able to program FileMaker databases, create websites and produce digital video
Gardening, in particular old fashion roses and a vegetable garden and orchard.
Cooking, in particular using home grown garden produce and utilizing the techniques of traditional european cuisine.
Design and creation of couture.
Phone: +61 (0) 3 59 89 2919
Mobile: +61 (0) 419 892919
U.S. Cell: +1 (310)430-9484
16 Meakins Road