So you want my arts job: Time-Based Art Conservator

AGNSW Time-Based Art Conservator, Lisa Mansfield, shares how they embarked on this career, its most exciting aspects and why digital preservation is relevant for everyone.
AGNSW Time-based Art Conservator, Lisa Mansfield. Photo: Supplied. A middle-aged figure with a curly pixie cut, bright smile, wearing a black shirt and white dots, rendered in black and white against a dark blue solid colour background. The text ‘so you want my arts job?’ is in bold white font to their left.

Lisa Mansfield is a Time-Based Art Conservator at the Art Gallery of NSW, who recently worked on the exhibition, What Does the Jukebox Dream Of?. Their work involves the conservation and restoration of technologies, both old and new, as well as other durational works, including video, audio, software-based art, choreography, performance and more.

Mansfield worked in the publishing industry for 20 years before taking a leap of faith into conservation, inspired by one particularly engaging conversation at a garage sale. But contrary to common belief that conservators need only work with objects, Mansfield tells ArtsHub that interpersonal skills, collaboration and building community are equally important on the job. Though they certainly do come across some interesting objects that need unique problem-solving along the way – ever wondered what it takes to maintain a gaming joystick for a gallery collection?

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Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. She took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs and was the project manager of ArtsHub’s diverse writers initiative, Amplify Collective. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne. Instagram @lleizy_