Alan Buchanan read engineering at Cambridge University and followed a career in civil engineering. He left the profession in 1988 and joined the last Higher National Diploma course at Camberwell College of Arts in 1989 receiving his diploma in 1991. Since then he has practiced as a conservator of works of art on paper and has developed ideas of an engineering nature. The engineering degree course at Cambridge University was essentially applied mathematics, training the student to gather information and to develop the mathematics which leads to the solution of a problem. This discipline has proved useful in the world of conservation.