This month’s #HangoutWithAPOYOnline is with APOYOnline volunteer Irene Delaveris:
I believe that a person as experienced and well-known in the field of conservation as you does not need an introduction, but I would like you to briefly comment on your career from your own vision and experience:
My trajectory spans many countries, and I think it was, is, and will be that of a bee that goes from flower-to-flower pollinating. I have covered many topics in preservation, but perhaps deprived of recent technological advances, having worked in conditions of few resources and quite isolated. However, I have always tried to form part of or generate networks of people who want to work with and for heritage. This is Red PROTERRA (Ibero-American Network for Earthen Architecture and Construction) and the Bolivian Plurinational Community Museum Network where I continue to participate, just like in APOYOnline. That is why being part of APOYOnline is beautiful and I enjoy it a lot, although I miss the real contact with the team since being located in so many countries, we rarely meet in person.
How would you define in a few words the current moment in the field of Latin American preservation?
I cannot comment on all Latin American countries, but in Bolivia, where I lived and had my professional activity during the last few years before the pandemic, it was never easy and after the pandemic, there are no longer conservation projects. The institutions have cut down on their employees and conservation is not a priority on the list. So, in a nutshell, we are going through a very tough time.
What do you expect for the field of Latin American preservation in the next 30 years?
I hope that society understands that taking care of and learning from heritage is not a luxury, but that heritage is the essence of human life. We have a lot to learn, especially from the indigenous peoples who for centuries were neglected and their knowledge forgotten. It is necessary to work for the integration of the patrimony in the daily life of the people, removing it from the pedestal and putting it in the hands of the people. The conservator’s job will be to find the balance between preservation measures and societal access.
Could you indicate three publications that have guided your career within the field of preservation?
This question is difficult, because I love books and in the work context I consider them tools that I use daily, but I am going to name three that perhaps I have loved the most. There are a series of three books that were very important to me during the process of developing my preventative conservation classes and I mention them here because I think they are excellent for explaining the scientific basis that is needed to work in conservation for people who are not specialists in science. These books now also exist in a Spanish translation, bringing all three books together in one. It is called “Science for Conservators – Materials, Cleaning, Adhesives and Coatings”, (English version Craft Council, 1983), Spanish translation from Archetype Publications (2017) ISBN: 9781904982685. Another book that I have enjoyed for many years, and which I continue consulting: “The elements of Archaeological Conservation” by J.M.Cronyn, from Routledge publishing house ISBN: 0-415-01206-6. And the third book that I feel has deeply affected me is: “Museum Environment” by Garry Thomson, from Routledge publishing house ISBN: 9780750620413
What message would you like to leave to young people who work in the field of preservation?
They have to abandon the idea that they are preserving only “materials”, and rather have the task of making scientific knowledge and art accessible, as well as the past human environmental adaptation, presenting it to society. Heritage preservation is a social service. And be curious, never stop learning.