Clairinsh! In praise of Alan Buchanan

Why does this post start with the battle cry of the Buchanans? To honour the life and contribution of paper conservator Alan Buchanan who sadly passed away February 2nd 2022.

Alan retired from civil engineering after a career of 30 years. In 1989 he joined the last HND course (Higher National Diploma) in paper conservation at Camberwell College of Arts. In 1994, Alan was co-opted onto the Institute of Paper Conservation’s Committee as Treasurer and elected Chairman in 1997. If you are thinking of accreditation, then you have Alan to thank for this. Please see his ‘Discussion about accreditation: reasoning, recent history and outlook’ in The Paper Conservator 2001 which ends with:

I remain convinced, as I was in April 1997, that the outcome of accreditation will lead to an improvement in the conservation of objects that come into our care. I remain convinced that, through accreditation, the influence of conservator-restorers will grow.

So often major changes hinge on the conviction of a small number of the far-sighted, Alan was one of these. You can read the full text of his piece on accreditation here

Alan and Kate Colleran at his canal boat ‘Clairinsh’ in Oxford.

There will be many words of appreciation for Alan’s contribution to the profession. You can see Anne Greig’s piece here, and his good friend, Kate Colleran, will share her thoughts in August’s Icon News. A look at Alan’s website here will show his insight and creativity. His prototype digitisation cradles built for the Bodleian’s pioneering project in the 1990s to digitise early manuscript are still in use by Colin Dunn at Scriptura. A quick google search reveals comments on his vitality, and the fact that Alan conserved the remembrance cards left with flowers for Princess Diana – of which there were 250,000! 

Alan was one of a kind. He was a joy to be with, his sense of humour and sprezzatura won’t be forgotten, and he will be greatly missed.  

Jane Eagan, Head Conservator, OCC

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