Ligatus news

Call for PhD applications

Ligatus, a research centre of the University of the Arts London, in collaboration with Oxford University are inviting applications for a PhD research project in the subject of machine learning in bookbinding history.
Ligatus is the leading centre in the study of bookbinding history with a strong interest in documentation methods. Recent projects include a survey of 4,000 books (including photographs) from the medieval library of the Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai, Egypt and a thesaurus of bookbinding concepts (Language of Bindings Thesaurus) which can be used for classifying content. This PhD project will look at image recognition and the automatic extraction of bookbinding features from photographs of books.
The ideal candidate will have a computer science degree with relevant projects and a strong interest in cultural heritage or a relevant humanities degree with proven knowledge of machine learning and image analysis techniques.
For more information please contact Dr Athanasios Velios ( Funding for this position may be available if applications are received by the deadline of the 30th of November.

On the Matter of Books and Records. Forms, Substance, Forgeries, and Meanings Beyond the Lines

We are pleased to announce the forthcoming international workshop on the materiality of written culture in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: On the Matter of Books and Records. Forms, Substance, Forgeries, and Meanings Beyond the Lines, organised by the AR.C.H.I.ves Project (Birkbeck, University of London), the Ligatus Research Centre (University of the Arts London) and the History of Design Programme (Royal College of Art / Victoria & Albert Museum).
The conference will take place on 23 November 2015 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Please see the programme ​below , also available at , and

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10.00-10.30 Registration and Coffee
10.30-10.45 Filippo de Vivo and Marta Ajmar: Introduction

10.45 – 12.15
First Session - Supports: Papyrus, Parchment, and Paper
Danae Bafa (UCL):
From Boats to Book-rolls: Unfolding the Materiality of Papyrus in Graeco-Roman Egypt
Jessica Berenbeim (Magdalene College, University of Oxford):
What Parchment is, and What it Means
Maria Alessandra Chessa (V&A Museum):
From the Nature of Paper to Meaning and Function

1.30 – 2.30
Second Session - Binding Books and Documents
Anna Gialdini (Ligatus, UAL) and Alessandro Silvestri (Birkbeck):
Binding and Rebinding Records in Late Medieval Sicily. A Material Approach to Administrative History
Carlo Federici (Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice):
Bindings, Parchments and Papers. My Pathway to the Archaeology of the Book
2.30-3.00 Coffee Break

3.00 – 4.10
Third Session - Forgery in Books and Documents
Emily Taylor (British Museum):
Book Forgeries: A Composite Fake and Egyptological Conundrum from the British Museum’s Collection
Alfred Hiatt (Queen Mary University of London):
Forgery of Documents in the Late Middle Ages

4.10-4.30 Ian Sansom, University of Warwick: Closing remarks: The Paper Museum

5.00 Wine Reception

Registration to the workshop is now open. Places are limited and we recommend you register as soon as possible. Shall the number of registrations exceed that of available places, we will be running a waiting list. Please register at within 15 November 2015.

We are also happy to announce that a small number of travel bursaries are available to enable graduate students to attend (see ​ ​ We would be grateful if you could circulate the information among potentially interested students. Applications should be sent to by 15 October 2015.

For any further enquiries visit or feel free to get in touch with the organisers:

Alessandro Silvestri:
Anna Gialdini:
Maria Alessandra Chessa:

Artivity goes on to phase 2


Following the JISC sandpit on the 13th and 14th of July, Artivity is now funded for another 4 months by JISC. This is great news for the project as it will give us the opportunity to develop a new plugin for Krita which is a raster image editing package. You can see the full sandpit presentation on slide share, including the deliverables for phase two. You can read Daniela Duca's announcement here and a nice DCC blogpost by Angus White.
The challenges for the new phase are:

  • Come up with a robust plan of how to scale-up Artivity from a small proof of concept project to a wider user-base deployment.
  • Capture a few extended examples to showcase the value of Artivity data.

More Artivity screenshots


The Artivity Explorer window is developing nicely. The panel on the left now is used as a summary of the statistics extracted from the data which looks a lot more tidy. The right of the screen is divided into two panels. The top one shows a graph of the collected data over time and it incorporates both editing activity of an Inkscape file and browsing activity. The bottom one is currently a list of recorded actions. Sebastian and Moritz are looking into coordinating the two and allowing some sort of navigation to accommodate large amounts of data. Screenshots attached.

The binding on the St Cuthbert Gospel

I have just received an advance copy of the British Library's new book of essays about the St Cuthbert Gospel (The St Cuthbert Gospel: Studies on the Insular Manuscript of the Gospel of St John (BL, Additional MS 89000), edited by Claire Breay and Bernard Meehan, London: The British Library, 2015). The volume celebrates the Library's acquisition of this remarkable book in 2012, and two chapters discuss the binding in detail. My own looks at the history of the study of the binding as well as its construction and the techniques used in its decoration. Following CT scans of the left board it is now possible for the first time to understand how the raised decoration was executed. The second chapter, by Leslie Webster of the British Museum, discusses the decoration, its origins and it symbolism. Three appendices describe the analytical work which was also carried out. Other chapters look at the text, Irish pocket gospel books, the cult of St Cuthbert and the history of the manuscript before and after the reformation.

Artivity meeting in Germany


Last week I was in Germany to meet Sebastian Faubel and Moritz Eberl from Semiodesk. We had a great meeting and laid the plans for Phase 2 and 3 of the project. We discussed the new ppa Ubuntu Linux repository for Artivity and some interesting ideas for visualising Artivity data. Much of the data that Artivity deamon collects makes sense in relation to time. Plotting the data on a two-dimensional graph with time on the x-axis and events on the y-axis looks like a reasonable option. We were discussing of integrating the various types of events on one chart and allowing some comparison of the sequence of events as they appear superimposed on top of each-other.

We will also integrate the type of music being played from Rhythmbox as separate events.

Sebastian and Moritz have also been in touch with the Inkscape core developer community and are discussing the integration of the Artivity code upstream. Adoption by the Inkscape developers would mean that they can then provide hooks for measuring the popularity of various Inkscape features which may be useful for design decisions in the following versions, so we are positive that they will adopt our changes.

It was a good meeting followed by a great dinner.


You are cordially invited to the Ligatus and CERL Bookbinding Seminars, Plenary Session and Reception that will take place on 23rd June 2015 at Chelsea College of Arts, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU.
Places are limited therefore early booking is recommended.

For bookbinding seminars please book your place at UAL e-store.

To reserve a place at plenary session and reception, please email: or

PDF icon Ligatus and CERL Programme 115.23 KB

First Artivity browser screenshots


Just had another meeting with Sebastian and Moritz from Semiodesk about Artivity. We discussed some new metrics that can be calculated on Inkscape and svg files. The metrics are described in the deliverables file which is now hosted on the project's bitbucket repository over here.
We also have a few first screenshots of the Artivity browser: the Gnome Activity Journal plugin which allows browsing data collected from Inkscape. In the next blog entry I will need to outline how the whole system will work in relation to the existing tools.

Artivity update - meeting with Semiodesk


I had another good meeting with the Sebastian and Moritz from Semiodesk
Their new website is up and running and it features Artivity as one of the projects they are working on.
We discussed some of the proposed metrics to capture for Artivity and talked a bit longer about the concept of confidence in the use of creative applications. We also talked about exporting Artivity data as RDF using entities from the CIDOC-CRM combined with concepts from the zeitgeist ontology.
Sebastian and Moritz have setup an Ubuntu ppa with the software they are working on so it should be very easy now to install and try the software. I am going to download the latest version of Ubuntu GNOME and give it a go.
Keep an eye on the project bitbucket repository which will soon have the project management document with the detailed specification as well.
In the meantime a very relevant event takes place this week in Toronto: this year's Libre Graphics Meeting and particularly an Inkscape Hackfest.

CCW documenting practice meeting


Thanks to Claire (Mokrauer-Madden) another CCW graduate school meeting about documentation took place today. Claire circulated a few questions which were useful as a starting point for discussion:

  • Do you document your process? Why or why not?
  • How do you document your process and/or final output?
  • What problems or issues crop up in the area of personal archiving?
  • What role does technology play in your documentation?

The discussion has been recorded and a more detailed record may become available at the CCW blog but some points that I thought were stronger follow:

  • Creators do engage in documentation in one way or another with some reasons being:
    • the value of connecting ideas and concepts,
    • the type of documentation depends on what is meant as practice for each creator
    • documentation is in itself a type of practice
    • documentation can be considered as a house-keeping tool for future output production
  • documentation is not necessarily public since private records are common practice
  • blog seems to be a popular documentation tool which also allows a timeline to be built
  • curation of documentation data can serve requirements for communicating the research to different bodies


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