For the second year running we are pleased to be sponsoring the annual Historic Houses Collections Award. Part of Historic Houses' iconic awards programme, 'The Collections Award: Recognising, Responding, Reimagining' celebrates the importance and evolution of the rich collections that can be found in Britain's independently owned historic homes.
The award honours the creators, owners, curators, researchers and conservators who preserve, augment, restore and interpret these beautiful and significant objects, enabling the public to understand and enjoy them and the stories that they tell.
On the look-out, not for the ‘best’ collection, but rather for the most compelling story of custodianship from the last year or so, are five leading experts in the worlds of curation, collection and creation. We are delighted to announce the judging panel for this years award.
The Judging Panel
With an MA in History of Art from Cambridge University, Rufus enjoyed a 13-year career in the Decorative Arts department at Christie’s where he became a Senior Director. He was appointed Deputy Surveyor of the Queen’s Works of Art in 2010 and served as Surveyor of the Queen’s Works of Art from 2018 to 2021. As the Senior Curator of Decorative Arts in the Royal Collection, he was responsible for the care of 500,000 objects in 15 residences, including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Rufus joined the Gurr Johns Group in September 2022 as Director of Decorative Arts and Heritage Collections, Europe and acts as the principal specialist for Heritage Collections and Decorative Art, providing leading expertise to international clients across the group, and advising on acquisitions, valuations, conservation, and museum relations.
Alice Minter joined the V&A as Curator of the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection in July 2018. Prior to that, she worked for 10 years at Sotheby’s London as specialist in ceramics, silver and gold boxes. Alice has co-curated a ground-breaking display: Concealed Histories: Uncovering the story of Nazi Looting Art (6 December – 10 January 2021) and curated the exhibition Masterpieces in Miniatures: Treasures from the Rosalinde & Arthur Gilbert Collection which has been touring in China since Summer 2021. She is now leading a complete refurbishment and expansion of the Gilbert Galleries, due to open in late 2025. Alongside these projects, Alice is a member of the vetting committee at TEFAF, a member of the Silver Society committee and a trustee of the Strawberry Hill Collection Trust.
Giles Kime is Country Life's Executive and Interiors Editor, an expert in interior design with decades of experience since starting his career at The World of Interiors magazine. Giles joined Country Life in 2016, introducing new weekly interiors features, bridging the gap between coverage of architecture and gardening. He previously launched a design section in The Telegraph and spent over a decade at Homes & Gardens magazine (launched by Country Life's founder Edward Hudson in 1919). A regular host of events at London Craft Week, Focus, Decorex and the V&A, he has interviewed leading design figures, including Kit Kemp, Tricia Guild, Mary Fox Linton, Chester Jones, Barbara Barry and Lord Snowdon. He has written a number of books on interior design, property and wine, the most recent of which is on the legendary interior designer Nina Campbell who last year celebrated her fiftieth year in business. Last Autumn saw the publication of his book on the work of the interior designer, Emma Sims-Hilditch. He has also written widely on wine and at 26, was the youngest ever editor of Decanter Magazine. Having spent ten years restoring an Arts & Crafts house on the banks of the Itchen, he and his wife, Kate, are breathing life into a 16th-century cottage near Alresford that has remained untouched for almost half a century.
Alice had a varied earlier career working for Andrew Edmunds in his printshop specialising in 18th century cartoons, three British opera companies, diploma in building conservation with a thesis on British bath houses. She had an early passion for art and architectural history, patrons, collectors and their collections which resulted in becoming a curator of a private collection for the last 33 years as well as working with other collectors and collections. Her current role has been very wide ranging from managing a collection to working on building projects and follies, decorative schemes and producing books on the collection and architectural schemes.
After reading History of Art at Cambridge, Hamish apprenticed for 5 years in conservation of paintings under Richard Maelzer at Edward Speelman Ltd between 1978-1983. He became a leading picture conservator after setting up his own practice, Hamish Dewar Conservation Ltd, in 1983.
What are the judges looking for?
The sorts of things likely to catch the judges’ eyes include:
- New conservation approaches, techniques, needs, challenges, projects, or efforts
- New ways of arranging, presenting, interpreting, capturing, communicating, or organising a collection, perhaps to draw out new links or connections to people, places, stories, or other objects, or to attract new audiences or respond to new or changed priorities among the public, academia, or the owners and curators
- New additions, acquisitions, returns, restorations, recoveries, rationalisations, or any other change to the composition and make-up of the collection to better preserve, protect, or enhance it
- New research, discoveries, understandings or realisations that shed new light on the academic, artistic, intellectual, historical, or social content and meaning of the collection and take forward, add to, or change its story in some way
In June, the panel will visit up to five shortlisted contenders. You can follow their progress on Dreweatts’ or Historic Houses’ social media or at historichouses.org/the-collections-award.