Patricia Robertson Fund

Mrs Patricia Robertson OAM
Founder of Sydney ADFAS
Founding Chairman of Association of ADFAS
Patron of ADFAS

The aims of the Association of Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (ADFAS) are the promotion and advancement of aesthetic education, the cultivation and study of the decorative and fine arts and the preservation of our cultural and artistic heritage.

The History

In 2009 the Association of ADFAS celebrated its 20th anniversary. To commemorate this milestone, it was decided to actively support the conservation of Australian cultural materials in accordance with the ADFAS mission statement and spirit of giving. Founding Chairman and current Patron, Patricia Robertson, had long recognized that conservation is a significantly under-funded area of the arts and suggested that ADFAS could make a meaningful difference to this vital work.

ADFAS was therefore pleased to make a three year commitment to an annual Association of ADFAS Student Conservator Award, drawing on existing Association funds and providing financial support for outstanding conservation graduates.

After extensive consultations and exhaustive correspondence with the tax office, the appropriate mechanisms were then put in place by the Association to establish a separate permanent resource which would continue to further the cause of conservation and be derived exclusively from voluntary donations. This new fund, known as the Patricia Robertson Scholarship Fund, was officially launched in 2014. The administration of the PRSF is conducted by the Executive Committee of the Association of ADFAS and reviewed annually.  Operation of the fund is reported annually to ADFAS Council. The Selection Panel is currently chaired by Association President, Julian Bickersteth who is a practising conservator. The members are ADFAS Patron, Patricia Robertson, the Association Chairman and the Hon. Treasurer.

In 2014, the PRSF awarded an emerging young graduate to develop conservation skills within an overseas workplace environment.

During 2015 the Patricia Robertson Scholarship Fund (PRSF) was renamed the Patricia Robertson Fund (PRF) to allow for a less restrictive distribution of funds. The name change also helped dispel any misunderstanding that a Scholarship Fund attracted ATO deductibility.

In 2015 and 2016, the fund was used to further the professional training of conservators within Australia and internationally.

In early 2017 a new agreement between the Association of ADFAS and the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials (AICCM) was formed. It was agreed that for the next three years 2017 – 2019 three awards will be granted annually.

ADFAS Mid –Career Scholarship would be awarded to a mid – career conservator with a minimum of ten years conservation practice.

The selection criteria of the award:

  • Benefit to recipients career
  • Benefit to the AICCM and profession.
  • The recipient will be known as the ADFAS mid – Career Scholar.

ADFAS Scholarship would be awarded to the AICCM Student of the Year at both the University of Melbourne and Canberra University’s Material Conservation courses in line with current criteria.

The awardees will be determined by the respective Course Convenor.

The recipients will be known as the ADFAS Scholar.

The three awards will be announced each year at the annual AICCM meeting in November.

Grants and Awardees 2014 – 2017

2017 Awardees:

ADFAS mid-Career Scholarship Dr Wendy Reade.

Wendy while working at the University of Sydney Museums had the challenging and privilege of conserving and reconstructing a very rare example of a 3400 year old Egyptian fresco painted pavement from Amarna, capital of the heretic king Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti as well as a section of painted pavement from Armana, excavated in 1922. This conservation work has brought to light much about the techniques and materials of these ancient craftsmen. Wendy’s proposed paper on the conservation work and associated findings has been accepted by the biennial International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICANNE) conference convenors.

The PRF funding will enable Wendy to attend this conference in Munich April 2018.

Wendy’s aim is to showcase Australian expertise in conservation of ancient world heritage in an international forum.

ADFAS Scholars 2017:

AICCM/University of Canberra Student of the Year.

Danica Auld- ADFAS Scholar

Danica completed her Batchelor degree in Heritage and Conservation in 2016 with exceptional results and has continued on into Honours. Her project explores the materiality, meaning and potential of community engagement of an unusual group of handmade textiles from the former Willow Court mental asylum in New Norfolk Tasmania. They were found deposited under a verandah in the Ladies Cottage on the site. The textiles and in particular a group of embroidered aprons, appear to have been deliberately and secretly deposited for reasons unknown. Danica is using this project to push the boundaries of conservation, exploring the construction and decoration of the aprons to build a story that may unravel part of the chequered history of this institution.

AICCM/University of Canberra Student of the Year.

Robyn Ho – ADFAS Scholar

Robyn has achieved an extremely high academic achievement in the Masters by Coursework Cultural Materials Conservation. Robyn also has made a strong contribution to the AICCM as part of the Editorial Assistant committee and has supported the Chief Editor of the AICCM Bulletin. This in turn helped to contribute to the Grimwade Centre’s strategic partnership with China. Robyn undertook an internship placement with the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology (SPIA) in 2015 on a significant Chinese mural painting.

In 2017 Robyn supported the hosting of SPIA visitors and assisted with an Australian –China Council grants application with the development of info graphics.

In the same year Robyn was part of the restoration of Victorian Trades Hall Old Council Chamber Project Team and previously in 2015 took an active part in the student group in structuring the report and its content.

In 2015 Robyn was one of the co-authors who presented their Trades Hall at the Hobart National Council Conference.

Her minor thesis research was on “Seeing from ‘a thousand different angles”: Conservation of Inge King’s Wodonga Fountain 1972 and outdoor painted sculptures, conservation research from many different angles which was most comprehensive in approach.

Robyn while working full time with 6 degrees architects undertook country work with the Robin Boyd Foundation as a collections management volunteer and on the Carlton United Brewery archaeological site (CUB) and the National Gallery of Victoria live conservation project in 2015.

She is a member of AICCM, INCAA and the Architects Association and will make a strong contribution to the Australian conservation profession.


A subsidised travel grant was awarded to conservator Alex Ellem a Melbourne based conservator to attend the joint Canadian Association for Conservation – “Association Canadienne pour la Conservation et la Restauration”(CAC-ACCR) and American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC) conference in Montreal, Canada in May 2016.

A subsidised travel grant was awarded to conservator Amanda Pagliarino QAGOMA Queensland to attend the joint International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (IIC) Congress and International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA) conference “Saving the Now: Crossing Boundaries to Conserve Contemporary Works” in Los Angeles in September 2016.


PRF funding subsidised attendance by conservators at workshops presented in Australia by two leading international conservators. Dr Martin Jürgens, photographic conservator from the Rijksmuseum Netherlands in Sydney and Dr Yvonne Shashoua, Senior Research Scientist in Conservation and Science at the National Museum of Denmark, in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Funding also contributed towards a Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) workshop held at the University of Melbourne which was led by experts from Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) San Francisco at the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne.


The PRSF scholarship recipient was Emily Harris, a 2013 graduate of the Melbourne Conservation Masters Course, as the inaugural beneficiary of the Patricia Robertson  Scholarship Fund. The scholarship enabled Emily to spend several months in the UK gaining an understanding of the efforts of international institutes in monitoring technology to inform preventive and intervention strategies for outdoor artworks and significant heritage buildings.

The Future

The PRF has been made possible by generous individual philanthropy and an initial investment by the Association of ADFAS. The aim of the fund is to provide an annual programme of awards to deepen the knowledge and thus extend the reach and scope of conservators working in Australia. Additional funds were given by the Association of ADFAS in February 2017 taken from nonoperational income to enable the fund to donate from interest only dollars and not draw down from the reserves.

A number of ADFAS societies contribute annually to the fund in the amount of approximately $1 per member per annum. Such contributions are greatly appreciated and this helps towards the Patricia Robertson Fund making a difference to the Australian cultural landscape.

“Even small contributions to the fund will allow ADFAS to achieve an enormous amount” – Pat Robertson

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