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Andy Hirst


Please can you briefly introduce yourself

I am a paintings conservator of 33 years and have worked on a wide variety of paintings, wallpaintings, historic decorative interiors and even some furniture. I have run projects as well as led teams and also worked solo. The date range is from the 11th century to the 21st.

Please could you briefly tell us what being an Art Conservator means?

It means mending broken art in practical terms but there are very important historical, scientific and ethical issues at stake as well.

What does an average day in the life of an art conservator look like?

They are all project specific. One of the good things about this kind of work is that there is always some sort of daily challenge.

Please could you tell us who or what has had the most significant influence on you during your life and why?

The idea of historical specificity, elaborated in the philosophical writings of Marx and some of his predecessors.

What did you want to be at 7 years old?

An astronaut or a fireman. I think I liked saving people and exploration. 

What was your favourite subject at school?

Art and Mathematics. But more especially Physics. Physics is beautiful.
What key thing do you do every day to keep you on track?
Make a to do list with my wife over morning coffee.
Do you have a morning/evening routine?
Evening routine means trying to eat well with wine! This includes during various diets!
How do you relax?
I watch TV. Mostly Netflix series’ these days but other stuff too. I also like watching birds feed in the garden and going cycling.
What was the last piece of art you purchased and from where?
I purchased a very good photograph from Simon Dent about 30 years ago, and gave it to my then girlfriend. Otherwise none.
What work of art would you most like to own and why?
One of the drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, but I heard that the Queen currently owns most of them.
Which person (alive or dead) would you most like to have dinner with and why?
The great Caribbean intellectual CLR James. Sadly he died in 1989, in my lifetime. A few convivial hours with him would have been great. He wrote a number of very good books

What advice would you give to those aspiring to make a living out of selling their art in 2021 and beyond?

Make what you want to and be honest about it, don’t just make what you think will sell.

What key piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Train as a lawyer, an astrophysicist or a surgeon, otherwise get a regular trade. Also, go out dancing quite a lot (which I did).

What is the most important thing to know about you?

I am human-centred and think humanity has done great things in history. Sadly, some of these achievements are under appreciated these days as it seems to be fashionable to be cynical.

Please tell us one unexpected thing about yourself.

I’m a Leeds United supporter.

Anything else….

I’m an Elvis Presley fan.

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