Born: September 11, 1922; Died: June 20, 2012.
Robin Callander, who has died aged 89, was a renowned medical illustrator. He spent most of his career at Glasgow University but his work reached a worldwide audience through the Illustrated -series of medical textbooks.
The first book, Illustrated Physiology, was created in the 1960s with co-author Dr Anne McNaught. The key message of every page was refined and clarified before Mr Callander created the illustration and manually added the associated text. Every page was handed to the publisher as a finished item ready for imaging and printing.
He had extensive knowledge of his subject matter and that combined with superb draughtsmanship ensured that all his work had a truth about it. His illustrations display a "spareness". Line drawing is an exacting discipline and in that discipline he excelled. All of this was achieved using simple equipment: a mapping pen and a bottle of black ink.
Further textbooksin the Illusrated series followed, covering pathology, obstetrics, gynaecology, urology, neurology and neurosurgery. They were translated into many different languages and were found in bookshops across the world. It is a tribute to his communications skills that he was able to work with specialists across the wide spectrum of medicine, to help them to articulate key points, stripped of unnecessary detail, and to transfer that to paper. Students often commented that his illustrations were easy to memorise and recall. His pictures were indeed worth a thousand words.
Mr Callander was the third son of Robert Callander, a market gardener. As a teenager at Dumbarton Academy he excelled academically and on the sports field. But it was his natural gift in art that most set him apart; he won numerous medals in competitions run by Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
Sketchbooks dating from his teenage years reveal both the attention to detail and the economy of line that were to equip him so well for later life. The subjects of those drawings were frequently caricatures of politicians of the time – Churchill, Mussolini, Hitler – or of military aircraft.
In 1942, aged 20, he joined the RAF, where he trained as a radio technician and in photography. During initial training in Arbroath, and as a marker of hope for better times, he sneaked out of camp and bought the engagement ring that he would later present to Elizabeth (Betty) Whyte, his teenage sweetheart. They married the following year while he was on 48-hour leave.
With the rank of leading aircraftsman, he was assigned to a component of the US Army Air Corps based in Lincolnshire, earning a commendation in early 1945 for his role in building harmonious relations between the American and British personnel.
He used his artistic skills to produce technical manuals and to create stylish murals for the walls of the Aero Club. After the war he trained as a physiotherapist, often delivering his answers to exam questions as annotated diagrams rather than text. His understanding of human anatomy became a critical part of his later success as a medical artist and of his ability to collaborate with medical and surgical specialists.
In the early 1950s Mr Callander accepted a temporary contract from Professor RC Garry to provide an illustrative service to the academic staff and students in the West Medical Buildings at the University of Glasgow.
After 12 months his contribution was so valuable that the contract was made permanent. He contributed illustrations to many books, a notable example being Garven's Histology. He went on to become the inaugural director of the university's medical illustration and photography unit, providing medical art, photography, graphic design and animation.
In spite of having no formal art education his abilities were recognised by professional artists and he served as chairman of both the Medical Artists Association of GB and of the Institute of Medical and Biological Illustration.
His Christian faith was a core part of his life. For more than 15 years he and Betty ran a Sunday school in a housing estate and he was one of the founding members of the Dumbarton branch of the Gideons.
In describing him, friends and work colleagues typically reach for words such as kind, generous, supportive and encouraging. "A real gentleman" is a common epithet. He and Betty were united in their view that life was for a purpose and had to be lived generously. .
Each generation knew without doubt that they were loved, valued and prayed for. The loss of his wife in 2009 was an immense blow, at a time when his own health and strength were in decline. Over the remaining three years of his life he gained great comfort from his family. He died just two days before the birth of his eighth great-grandchild, Amy Robin.
He is survived by his sons, Douglas and Bruce.
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