Cheryl Jackson and Prue McKay

The National Archives’ Canberra Preservation Lab is facing a tough ordeal: Ian Batterham is retiring. 

From 24 December 2014, he will be on leave for a few months, then it will become final – he will leave us, after 35 years. Ian started at the Commonwealth Archives Office in 1980, fresh out of the Canberra College of Advanced Education.

Ian BatterhamHe has worked in warehouses in Fyshwick, Nissen huts on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin (where the NGA now stands), watched the development of our Mitchell building, and our increasing public profile with the redevelopment of East Block into our Head Office.

During the 1980s and 90s he successfully completed the treatment on our MOST iconic objects, the Walter and Marion Griffin drawings of their plans for Canberra, and set up an experiment to test the strength of naturally aged paper stored in air conditioned and non-air conditioned environments, which, 27 years later, he completed (with Rajani Rai) and presented at the 2008 Book, Paper and Photographic Materials Symposium. I don’t think there are too many people in Conservation in Australia who have owned a 27 year experiment. That’s COMMITMENT!

He has mentored many excellent conservators through our Lab: work experience kids, undergrads, masters and PhD students, and staff, with his laid back, understanding style and amazing science brain. 

Ian has always been involved in social life at the Archives, hosting and writing quiz nights with zeal, and being instrumental (see what I did there) in accompanying the Archives vocal group ‘Archivally Sound’, and the staff Christmas party, on his various guitars. For the conservation community in Canberra, he is the rock on which the AICCM’s ACT branch relies for enthusiasm in all things, including planning and running workshops, symposia, national conferences, meetings, and the legendary annual Christmas party and quiz night for which he emcees.

We hope that Ian’s retirement from work will not mean his retirement from the world of conservation…trivia nights just would not be the same. All the same, we also hope that he finally has time to indulge in his favourite hobbies – woodworking, eating, and playing the ukulele – and getting his tiki bar built.