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RCA’s First Ceramics & Glass Research Fellow Leads Major Restoration Project at the Victoria & Albert Museum

11 June 2013 – The RCA’s first Ceramics & Glass research fellow at the Victoria & Albert museum is leading restoration of a rare porcelain fountain, which will take pride of place in the museum’s new Europe 1600-1800 galleries when they open next year.

Dr Steve Brown, a PhD graduate of the RCA and a longstanding Ceramics & Glass tutor, is leading a team at the Victoria & Albert museum and the RCA as part of a 13-month project to restore the white meissen porcelain Von Brühl fountain – the largest single meissen porcelain figure group in existence.

The fountain, which was acquired by the museum in 1870, has eleven missing or broken pieces with much of the object fragmented and damaged, and its original provenance lost. Since then, only the main figural pieces have been displayed.

Using a combination of 3D printing and CNC milling for making models from 3D scans, as well as traditional techniques for moulding and casting clay, Steve and his team will be able to accurately reproduce and replace the missing elements in porcelain. The specialist 3D printing technology at the RCA will help complete a full reconstruction with a footprint of 1.5m x 4m.

The restored fountain will have pride of place in the Victoria & Albert museum’s Europe 1600-1800 galleries, which open at the end of 2014. A film, shown alongside the fountain, will illustrate the groundbreaking restoration process, and show its original function as a table fountain used by the Prime Minister of Saxony Count Heinrich von Brühl for dinners at his Dresden palace.

The project links the RCA with the Ceramics, Conservation and Photography departments at the Victoria & Albert museum and a number of partners in industry.

Dr Steve Brown has been a tutor at the RCA for eight years, working with Ceramics & Glass students interested in imagery and printed surface. He has a background in screenprinting, working commercially for more than 26 years. He completed his PhD at the RCA.