Richard Aitken ACR
I started my career at West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield training to become an Archive Conservator through the Archives & Records Association Training Scheme for Conservators qualifying in 1998. Whilst still working at WYAS I was awarded a certificate in Map Instruction in 2008, to teach conservation trainees map conservation.
I began working for the Highland Archive Service in 2009 as Senior Conservator. In 2010 I was successfully awarded accreditation status after years of fine tuning my portfolio, more recently I completed a Masters in Preventive Conservation whilst studying via distance learning through Northumbria University in 2013. I thoroughly enjoy my job at the Highland Archive Service helping look after an extensive collection covering the whole of the Highland region. The daily job can cover a range of tasks, no day is the same. We are also building a client base of external work and contracts, which lets you see other people’s hidden archival gems.
High Life Highland Conservation Studios provide conservation services for the museum and archive sector in Scotland. We are a multi-disciplinary studio across two sites in the Highlands, and we undertake work on behalf of external clients in the areas of paper, books, parchment, photographs, historic artefacts, archaeology, porcelain, and preventive conservation. We also assist and guide in surveys, provide support for grant applications, preparation for digitisation projects, as well as delivering training for staff and volunteers from museums and archives. The studios are modern, well equipped, spacious and secure work spaces, specifically designed for conservation.
The Papal Bull was in poor condition due to being glued to a frame at some point in the last 125 years. Mr Aitken removed the Bull from the frame attached a new piece of parchment to support the document. The Bull has been mounted to keep it in the best possible condition. As well as fulfilling all of the points above Mr Aitken kindly gave a talk to the museum volunteers and other interested member of the public on the conservation of Tain’s Papal Bull. Mr Aitken also gave advice on the storage of the Bull and suitable data recording device to check that conditions are correct to keep the Bull in good condition. Mr Aitken visited the museum to see where the Bull is being stored which certainly reassured the Museum Trust that all efforts were being made to preserve the Bull for the future. The Papal Bull is by far the most important artifact in Tain’s collection and it’s preservation means a lot to the people of Tain. We are very grateful to Mr Aitken for both his work in conserving the Bull and his advice as to the correct storage required.
Sheila MunroTain & District Museum Curator
We were extremely pleased with the end result of the repair. Jeanette treated the project very well and we were kept informed of all progress.
Daniel WatsonClerk of Works, Balmoral Estate
I was very pleased with the quality of the work undertaken, which was sympathetic both to the volumes needs and to our budget. Richard surveyed the volumes and gave written treatment proposals, with options for different levels of intervention, which were fully discussed before treatment began. Following treatment he also spent time explaining how the volumes had been bound, how papers and bindings had been damaged and repaired in the past, and how this affected his approach to their treatment. So, in addition to the volumes being repaired and protected, I also gained a better understanding of bound volumes and how to look after them, which has been valuable for enhancing collections care across the archive.
Ishbel MacKinnonArgyll Estates Archivist - 2016
The Highland Archive Service Conservation Studio has been involved in the first phase of a collaborative project with the Book and Paper Studio in Dundee to provide conservation treatment for a large number of volumes of assessed tax rolls. The Studio has been working to an estimate that was produced by the Book and Paper Studio’s conservator. Before the beginning of the project, the Highland Archive Service Conservation Studio consulted with the Book and Paper Studio, and Richard Aitken from visited Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives in order to inspect the collection against the estimate of the work required. Throughout the project Richard has remained in regular contact with us about progress and extra costs incurred due to some additional spine treatment required that only became apparent once the binding of several volumes was fully unpicked (i.e. it could not have been foreseen). We have been extremely happy with the work done by the Highland Archive Service Conservation Studio to make the volumes involved in the first part of the project accessible again, and look forward to using its services again on subsequent phases.
Ruaraidh WishartAberdeen City Archivist - quote 2016
The ‘efficient and business-like operation” is NOT, very importantly, to the detriment of person to person contact, explanation and discussion.
Sally SpencerPrivate Client
MA in Preventive Conservation - Northumbria University
Archive & Records Association Certificate in Archive Conservation
Diploma in Fine Bookbinding & Conservation