ICOMOS-UK Conference, 25th April 2023 at the University of Greenwich: Programme

Please see the detailed programme for the day below.

Tickets for the conference are available here


9.00 – 9.30

Session One: Welcome and Introduction

9.30 – 9.50

Chair: Peter Marsden

A former Civil Servant, Peter held a variety of posts in a range of Government Departments including HM Customs and Excise, HM Treasury, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and with cultural organisations such as the Tate and Imperial War Museum. At the DCMS, Peter served as Head of World Heritage for the UK, representing the State Party at national and international fora. He also worked on policy for Free Access to the National Museums and Galleries, Historic Ships Policy for the UK, and liaison with Historic Royal Palaces, the Royal Household on ceremonial issues and incoming State Visits, and with The Royal Parks including the installation of the ‘Diana Fountain’. After retiring from the public sector and running an independent heritage consultancy, Peter currently holds the position of World Heritage Site Coordinator for Maritime Greenwich WHS and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of its Management Plan.

Peter is a member of ICOMOS-UK, has served as a Trustee on the Board for a number of years and currently chairs its World Heritage Committee, working with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders including, UNESCO, ICOMOS International, and heritage agencies and Government departments across the UK.

Clara Arokiasamy, ICOMOS-UK

Clara is the President of ICOMOS-UK and is the Chair its Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee which she founded in 2012. Her involvement, as a senior manager and non-executive member, in the planning and delivery of arts and heritage services in the UK spans local government, community sector, and Non-Government Departments, over a period of 25 years. She was Deputy Director Operations at the Heritage Lottery Fund, a member of the Culture Committee at the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Vice President of the International Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage at ICOMOS International and a member of the Strategic Review Committee at ICOM International. She also chaired the London Mayor’s Heritage and Diversity Task Force and the Open University’s research board on Cultural Rights and Kenya’s New Constitution. Clara has consulted on cultural heritage in Europe, Canada and America for academic, community and arts and heritage sectors.

Clara will introduce the themes of the conference, ‘Embedding cross-cutting issues and inclusive practices’

Session Two: Keynote

9.50 – 11.20

Speakers & Abstracts

Professor Dan Hicks, Pitt Rivers Museum

Dan Hicks MICfA, FSA is Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is The Brutish Museums: the Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution (Pluto 2020)

Title:  Decolonising “world heritage” in the UK

This paper will take stock of what some of the narratives around “decolonisation” mean the idea of world heritage in the UK.

Bénédicte Selfslagh, ICOMOS

Bénédicte Selfslagh is a member of the ICOMOS Our Common Dignity – Rights-Based Approaches Working Group. She represents Belgium in the International Coordination Committee for the Preah Vihear Temple (Cambodia) and is a member of heritage advisory committees in Belgium and abroad. She was involved in the drafting of many international standard-setting texts, including the Davos Declaration Towards a high-quality Baukultur for Europe, the European Quality Principles and the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention). Bénédicte Selfslagh was Rapporteur of the World Heritage Committee and Secretary General of ICOMOS.

Title: A Rights-Based Approach for World Heritage Properties

The presentation will outline the concept of a Rights Based Approach (RBA) for heritage conservation. It will show how ICOMOS has applied such an approach to World Heritage properties through its role in evaluating nominations and through the development and application of standard setting ICOMOS texts as well as international documents such as the Faro Convention. The presentation will also explain the development of ICOMOS’ Our Common Dignity Rights-Based Approaches Working Group, initiated in 2007 and subsequently expanded to involve the two other Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Convention (ICCROM, IUCN). The main objectives of the Group are to build awareness of rights issues in World Heritage and heritage management in general, and to promote “good practice” approaches for community participation and involvement in decision making. Finally, the presentation will provide an update on how a Rights Based Approach has been formally integrated into the World Heritage nomination and evaluation processes.

Phil Foxwood, DCMS

Phil Foxwood works on World Heritage and other UNESCO areas at DCMS.  He has been in the department for 5 years, previously working on fiscal events.  Prior to joining the civil service, Phil worked at the British Film Institute and in film exhibition.

Title: State Party to the World Heritage Convention

Phil will speak about the role of the State Party in World Heritage and the issues being explored today, reflecting on the recently published new UK Tentative List and the challenges and opportunities for World Heritage in the UK.

Session Three: Empowerment of communities – sustaining heritage through community involvement

11.40 – 12.50

Chair: William Garrett

William has over 40 years experience as a town planner working in local authorities across the UK in urban and rural areas specialising in Heritage, World Heritage, Placemaking and Transport. For the last 25 years before retirement he worked for Edinburgh City Council overseeing the development of key policy documents in heritage, planning and transport.

For the last 2 years, since retiring, he has been member of the ICOMOS-UK Board and is currently vice chair of the World Heritage Committee.

Speakers & Abstracts

Dr Paul Mullan, Director, The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Northern Ireland

Paul joined The National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2006 from the National Trust where he was head of operations and acting Regional Director. He has been involved in a variety of heritage, tourism and conservation projects, and has written, lectured and broadcasted on heritage matters. He studied at Queen’s University, Trinity College Dublin and the University of Ulster. His doctorate looked at ethical approaches to how the past is remembered in a divided society. He sits on a variety of Ministerial advisory groups In Northern Ireland including the recent Culture, Arts and Heritage Taskforce. He is also a member of the Irish Government’s Expert Advisory Committee on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. He chaired the Decade of Centenaries Roundtable which supports civic and community organisations to navigate the challenging historical centenary events 1912-23. He is an Honorary Professor of Practice at Queen’s University of Belfast and Visiting Professor at Ulster University.

Title: Community involvement, inclusive heritage, and the Heritage Fund’s Heritage 2033 strategy.

Paul will explore the Heritage Fund’s work linking communities to their heritage and look at how projects have been opened up to engagement with diverse groups. His examples will include a few Northern Ireland based examples, Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland’s Royal Palace, the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only world heritage site, and Belfast’s City Cemetery.

Professor Julia Aglionby, University of Cumbria

Julia Aglionby is a Professor in Practice at the University of Cumbria’s Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas, and Executive Director of the Foundation for Common Land. She is Chair of the Uplands Alliance and a practicing Land Agent and Agricultural Valuer. All her work in focused on Common Land. Julia was a Board Member of Natural England from 2014 – 2019 and chaired the Board’s Uplands Working Group. Her doctoral research was on the governance of common land comparing The Lake District in the UK with Danau Sentarum National Park in Indonesian Borneo. Julia lives in the Eden Valley, Cumbria on a Care Farm  -Susan’s Farm CIO – of which she is a Trustee.

Title: Farming Communities in the Lake District

The agro-pastoral system of hill farming lies at the heart of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Lake District World Heritage Site. This system of small highly managed fields in the valley floor leads up to rougher grazing in enclosed intakes then out onto the open fells and commons. This stunning landscape visited by over 20 million people a year remains managed by over 500 hill farmers with rights of common as it has for over 800 years. The future of the Lake District landscape is now at risk due to a poorly managed transition from the EU Common Agricultural Policy to an English system of paying for Environmental Land Management. Hill Farming in England remains inherently unprofitable without adequate reward for delivering public goods. Furthermore, the primacy of nature conservation law in protecting specific assemblages of habitats threatens the delivery of multiple public goods outcomes from these areas.

This talk will look at the work of the work of the Foundation for Common Land in exploring these challenges by working with commoning communities and other interested parties. There will be an emphasis on recognising plural legal systems as a framework for improving ways of working and increasing the agency of farming communities. How can we nurture co-operation rather than conflict to deliver for both our natural and cultural heritage?

Caitlin Osborne, TDR Heritage

Having recently graduated with a masters in Conservation of the Historic Environment from Birmingham City University with a distinction, Caitlin is now working as a heritage consultant for TDR Heritage, a small consultancy based in Shropshire and working across the UK. Her MA thesis “By the People, for the People” has inspired a continued passion for community engagement and involvement in heritage conservation. She is working as a project manager for Buxton and Wednesbury High Street Heritage Action Zones, enhancing public awareness and appreciation of the historic environment. 

Title: ‘By the People, for the People: Community Engagement and Participation in heritage conservation’

Over the past 20 years, the focus of heritage conservation is moving away from physical site intervention and towards a more holistic approach that includes more of the social aspects of cultural heritage. Heritage is increasingly recognised as being beneficial to social well-being, particularly in the construction of identities and as a result, community engagement has become an essential component of modern conservation practise.

This presentation focuses on Historic England’s flagship conservation project at the Grade I listed Ditherington Flaxmill Maltings as a case study to better understand the dynamics and complexities of community and social engagement with heritage conservation. The research explores the changing thoughts, feelings and attitudes of the local residents of Ditherington throughout the project in order to understand first-hand the true impact that conservation can have.

A success matrix, which was inspired by good practise examples including the Rehabilitation of the Birzeit Historic Centre in Palestine and the preservation of the Jubilee Colliery in Oldham, as well as best practise principles that have been sourced from organisations in the United Kingdom such as Historic England and the National Trust as well as from charters such as The Washington Charter, will then be discussed as a tool for evaluation. 

Break for lunch – provided

Session Four: Decolonisation – achieving inclusive and shared histories

14.00 – 15.10

Chair: Dr Ataa Alsalloum

Ataa’s research and teaching interest includes both intangible heritage elements and cultural heritage properties. She has been looking at sustainable heritage management from international policies’ perspectives and communities’ standpoints. Ataa has led on and contributed to different research and empirical projects in Qatar, Oman, Morocco, India, Lebanon and Syria. These include both living heritage and archeological sites. She led and co-led on various activities including capacity building, architectural intervention, digitization of archival collections, open-access pedagogic material, community awareness, public engagement, and heritage educational workshops with schoolchildren. Ataa designed, planned and she is directing the MA in Sustainable Heritage Management at the LSA. She worked alongside the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) to fully recognise this MA. Ataa co-established and co-led a heritage related design studio in BA3, as an innovative digital & reserach-led teaching approach. She is an affiliated member of IHBC and the Chair of the ICOMOS-UK Education, Training And Events Committee, and a member of the ICOMOS-UK Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee. Ataa is an expert member at ICOMOS International Training Committee. Ataa has recently established her own website, transcultural heritage.

Speakers & Abstracts

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Heriot-Watt University

Professor Sir Geoff (Godfrey) Palmer was born in Jamaica in 1940. He migrated to London in 1955 and unexpectedly had to return to school because he was one month younger than the school leaving age of 15 years. He was designated Educationally Sub-Normal and attended a Secondary Modern School in London. In 1958 he secured a job as a Junior Laboratory Technician at Queen Elizabeth College. After his university applications failed, Professor Chapman assisted his entrance to Leicester University in 1961.

He gained an Honours Degree in Botany in 1964 from Leicester University, a PhD Degree in 1967 from Edinburgh University and Heriot-Watt College in grain science and technology and completed a Post-Doc Fellowship in 1968. Working at the Brewing Research Foundation (1968 to 1977) he used the fundamental research from his PhD to develop the innovative industrial process of Barley Abrasion and pioneered the use of the Scanning Electron Microscope to study cereal grains. In 1977, he returned to the Heriot-Watt University as a staff member, gained a DSc degree for his research work in 1985, secured financial support from the industry to set up the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD), retired in 2005 and became Chancellor of the Heriot-Watt University in 2021.

He sits on the Boards of Community Organisations and has received Honorary Degrees from various Academic Institutions. His awards include an OBE (2003) and Knighthood (2014) for his scientific research, charity and human rights work. He was the fifth recipient and the first European resident to gain a distinguished research award from the American Society of Brewing Chemist, regarded as the ‘Nobel Prize’ of the industry.

His work on the history of the enslavement of African people as British slaves has led him to work on slavery projects with Glasgow University and to chair projects set up by Edinburgh City Council, the Scottish Government on Museums and the University of Edinburgh. In 2022 Leicester University gave him its Diversity and Inclusion award and named a building after him. He has published books on race relations and cereal science and technology. He is the first Honorary Consul for Jamaica in Scotland and the Freeman of Midlothian. In 2021 he gained the Pride of Scotland’s Life Time Award, was elected Honorary Keeper of the Quaich by the distilling industry and received the rare Edinburgh Award in 2022.

Title: Our History…Our Slavery.

It is difficult to tether injustice forever. British slavery in the West Indies was legal. When the slaves were emancipated, slave owners were given financial compensation. This slavery was abolished finally in 1838 but is now a major topic of discussion in our society. This topic covers areas such as removal of statues, introduction of plaques, reparation and consequences such as racism. Studies on the legacies of this slavery have been carried out by authorities in Scotland and recommendations have been accepted in terms of apologies and the inclusion of this history into the curriculum at the highest levels.

Dr Errol Francis, Culture&

Dr Errol Francis is artistic director and CEO of Culture&. Errol studied photography and fine art at Central Saint Martin’s, University of the Arts London. His doctoral research at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London focused on postcolonial artistic responses to museums.

Errol works with museums on collaborative public programmes and consultancy. He also leads the New Museum School (NMS) which partners with the University of Leicester to provide studentships for people from diverse communities. NMS enables them to pursue studies in museum studies and socially engaged practice to progress their careers in the heritage sector. Errol is involved in a number of research projects and is visiting lecturer at UCL, Sotheby’s Institute of Art; Honorary Lecturer at the University of Exeter and Visiting Fellow at the University of Leicester.

Title: Time, Space, and Empire

Greenwich is a one of the most visited heritage sites in the UK, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting nearly 20 million visitors last year. Most visitors are aware that Greenwich is not only a place of outstanding beauty, the site of the Prime Meridian, that it is a place that celebrates British maritime history.

Less so, is an awareness about how the site connects concepts of time and space and specifically and how this relates to the development of the British Empire in terms of navigational technology, architecture and landscape. To paraphrase Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: from Sir Francis Drake to Sir John Franklin, knights all, titled and untitled—the great knights-errant of the sea…the ships whose names are like jewels flashing in the night of time…They had all sailed from Greenwich.

Jean-François Manicom, Museum of London Docklands

Jean-François Manicom is the Senior Curator of the Museum of London Docklands. Prior to this role he was the Lead Curator of the International Slavery Museum of Liverpool. Before coming in UK he worked as curator of the permanent collection of the Memorial ACTe (Guadeloupe – French West Indies), which is the first memorial site dedicated to the history of slavery and to the expression of contemporary Caribbean Art in the Caribbean region.

With an expertise on photography, photographic archives and contemporary visual art, Jean-François has curated multiple exhibitions since 1998 that focused on the visual archives of slavery and its legacies in contemporary post-plantation societies, in France, in the Caribbean and in the UK. He is an internationally prized photographer and film director, whose work questions the universal enigmas of our nowadays, in a world where multiple and fragmented pasts challenge our power to imagine new possible futures.

Title: Roots are not built in stone

The question arises: From Guadeloupe to London via Liverpool how to find and where is the heritage left by the ancestors? How can we stop looking at the buildings often erected to be tools at the service of an inhuman trade as the only valid traces of the past? How to avoid the trap where we are finally considering colonial architecture as our common and natural heritage? When we assimilate the past to the walls built to oppress our ancestors, to the walls built by their free work, it is like dishonouring them a second time.

Session Five: Break-out Groups and Recommendations

15.30 – 16.50

Chair: Susan Denyer, FSA

Susan Denyer is Secretary of ICOMOS-UK and Senior World Heritage Adviser, ICOMOS. She is involved in the evaluation of World Heritage nominations and the state of conservation of World Heritage sites outside the UK and has undertaken international missions for ICOMOS in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. For the past 19 years she has been part of the ICOMOS team at UNESCO World Heritage Committee meetings.  Previously she worked for the National Trust, in museums, and as lecturer, including six years in East and West Africa, and has been Chair of BASIN, an international network for low-cost housing, and Secretary of INTACH UK, (the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, UK). She has published widely on cultural landscapes and is an occasional lecturer at various universities. 

Tour of the Painted Hall and Reception

17.00 – 18.00