Ligatus news

New post for Book Works KTP

Digital Archivist – Shorter KTP Associate

£18,200 - pro rata
17.5 hours per week, 10 month fixed-term contract

University of the Arts London is a vibrant world centre for innovation, drawing together six Colleges with international reputations in art, design, fashion, communication, performing arts, conservation and archiving.
We are pleased to work with Book Works in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) on a high profile project to develop Book Works’ digital archive using innovative online archiving techniques to optimise future growth and to enhance the use of the archive. Working closely with a team of academic supervisors at Camberwell College of Art, this role is fundamental to the development of the project. The research and subsequent online prototype produced will shape the future of the Book Works’ online archive. Book Works is a London-based contemporary visual arts publisher and commissioning organisation for artists' publications, founded in 1984. A registered charity, Book Works aims to advance art education and disseminate visual art practice through books. Book Works generates its revenue from publishing books, operating a specialist bookbinding studio and applying for grants from trusts and foundations.
You will undertake a survey into the company’s current archive and report on the variety of the archive's material and its requirements for online classification. You will develop a specification and an initial prototype of an online system that will act as the foundation for Book Works’ online archive. You will work with the KTP team to test this prototype using archive material to asses its fit. Documenting the processes of the online system, you will train Book Works staff through a programme of hands-on workshops and presentations. Degree educated in a relevant field of archiving, conservation, fine art, art history, IT, or book arts, you will have knowledge of archiving techniques and archive design. Any prior experience in research and development activities and implementation in relation to archive requirements would help you, as will knowledge of the Drupal CMS, excellent communication, project management and interpersonal skills.
For more information on Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, at University of the Arts London, please visit: In return, we offer a competitive employment package including a salary that reflects working in London; annual leave; a final salary pension scheme; and a commitment to your continuing personal and career development in an environment that encourages creativity, diversity and excellence.

Closing date: 13th May 2010

Interviews date: end of May.

Please visit or to download an application pack, applications by CV alone will not be accepted, or alternatively please contact Jill Kovacs, telephone: 020 7514 6287, email:

University of the Arts London aims to be an equal opportunities employer embracing diversity in all areas of activity.

Advertised on,,, Creative Careers and other website on Thursday 15th April 2010.

Ligatus Summer School 2010

Ligatus Summer School 2010

The History of European Bookbinding 1450-1830


Identifying and recording Byzantine bookbinding structures for conservation and cataloguing.

Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbuttel (Germany)
2-6 and 9-13 August 2010.

The 5th Ligatus Summer School, following the success of the courses in Volos, Patmos and Thessaloniki, is to be held this year in collaboration with the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, near Braunschweig, in northern Germany. This is an exciting new venture for us, and the opportunity to use books from this magnificent collection in our courses, will make this year’s summer school a memorable experience.

About the course:
The contribution that bindings can make to our understanding of the history and culture of the book is often neglected, but they can offer insights into the study of readership, the booktrade, and the provenance of books which are often not available elsewhere. In order to realise this potential, it is important to understand not only the history of the craft but also to learn how to record what is seen in a consistent and organised way. Librarians, cataloguers, conservators, book historians and all scholars who work with early books, need therefore to understand the structure and materials of the bindings they encounter in order to be able to record and describe them. Such descriptions of bindings are not only valuable for the management of library collections, pursuing academic research and making informed decisions about conservation, but are also important for digitisation projects as they can radically enrich the potential of image and text metadata. It is our belief that bindings should be seen as an integral part of the book, without which, our understanding of the history and use of books is often greatly circumscribed.

The purpose of the summer school is to uncover the possibilities latent in the detailed study of bookbinding and it mainly focuses on books which have been bound between the fifteenth and the early nineteenth century. While both courses concentrate in particular on the structure and materials of bookbindings, each of the two courses offered in this summer school looks at bindings from different geographical areas and with a different approach. The first course looks at the history of bookbinding as it was carried out in Europe in the period of the hand press (1450-1830), with the opportunity to look at examples from the collection during the afternoons, while the second course looks at the development of bookbinding in the eastern Mediterranean and gives hands-on training in how to observe and record bindings, again working with examples from the collection. Part of this course will include the construction of an XML data structure (schema) for recording bookbindings.

The courses are taught in English and each is open to 12 participants. Although the courses can be attended individually, participants are encouraged to attend both courses in order to get a more complete understanding of the issues discussed, through the comparison of the wide range of bookbindings considered in each week. Since these are not beginner-level courses, the participants are expected to be familiar with bookbinding terminology and have a basic knowledge of the history of book production in the periods under discussion. A basic understanding of the use of databases is also desirable for those who will attend the course in the second week.

Description of courses:

Week 1, European Bookbinding 1450-1830
Tutor: Professor N. Pickwoad
This course will follow European bookbinding from the end of the Middle Ages to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, using the bindings themselves to illustrate the aims and intentions of the binding trade. A large part of the course will be devoted to the identification of both broad and detailed distinctions within the larger groups of plain commercial bindings and the possibilities of identifying the work of different countries, cities, even workshops without reference to finishing tools. The identification and significance of the different materials used in bookbinding will be examined, as well as the classification of bookbindings by structural type, and how these types developed through the three centuries covered by the course. The development of binding decoration will be touched on, but will not form a major part of the discussion.

The course consists of ten 90-minute sessions with slide-show presentations (over 800 images will be shown). Actual examples of bindings will be shown in the first four afternoon sessions while the final afternoon will look at bookbinding terminology and offer the opportunity for the discussion of questions and issues raised during the week.

Week 2, Identifying and recording Byzantine bookbinding structures for conservation and cataloguing.
Tutors: Dr. G. Boudalis and Dr. A. Velios
This five-day course will be divided in two interconnected sessions. The first session, run by Dr. Georgios Boudalis, will focus upon the major structural and decorative features of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine bookbindings and their evolution in time and space. The relation of these bindings with the early bindings of the Coptic and other Eastern Mediterranean cultures will be discussed, during lectures, slide-shows and hands-on sessions. This session will centre the influences and comparisons of these different bookbindings. It will consist of eight 90-minute computer presentations supplemented by hands-on sessions.
The second session will be run by Dr. Athanasios Velios and will deal with the data management and storage of bookbinding descriptions. Alongside a brief reference to the relational databases this session will mainly involve discussions on a) the semantic web and XML, b) schemas and terminologies for bookbinding descriptions, c) commercial and open source software options for XML data and d) methodologies and workflows for collection surveys. A large part of this session will be devoted to the actual development and use of an XML schema for recording binding structures. This session will consist of two 90-minutes presentations and eight 90-minutes hands-on workshops. Basic knowledge of database use is desirable for this course.

The courses are supported by Ligatus and the University of the Arts, London, with generous help from the Herzog August Bibliothek. We have therefore been able to reduce the cost of the course for this year to £320 per week, excluding travel, meals and accommodation.
A number of accommodation options will be provided to the participants. A detailed schedule of the courses can be sent upon request. Applications, including a short CV can be submitted online Ligatus Summer School For information about registration please email Ewelina Warner (e.warner(at) and mark the message subject with: 'Ligatus Summer School'. A reading list will be sent to those who will attend the courses in advance. Deadline for applications is the 11th of June. The participants will be contacted by the end of June.

About the library:
Wolfenbüttel is a small town in Lower Saxony, Germany, located on the Oker river about 13 kilometres south of Brunswick (Braunschweig), at the edge of the Hartz Mountains. It became the residence of the dukes of Brunswick in 1432 but the first known library in Wolfenbüttel was that of the Duke Julius (1528-1529), the first protestant ruler of the duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. This library was transferred in 1618, on the orders of his grandson, Friedrich Ulrich (1591-1634), to the university of Helmstedt, founded in 1576. The Herzog August Bibliothek in its present form started its life as the private library of the Duke August (1579-1666), and by the time of his death, the library was one of the greatest collections in Europe, containing 135,000 painstakingly catalogued printed books and 3000 manuscripts.

The library continued to grow under his immediate descendants in later seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries, with both Gottfried Wilhelm Liebnitz and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing serving as librarians, and was then housed in a splendid circular building, finished in 1713, built by the Duke Anton Ulrich, which was the first free-standing secular library building in Europe. In 1810 the library of the University of Helmstedt was returned to Wolfenbüttel, and other notable collections, both from later generations of the ducal family and other aristocratic families, were added to the Biblioteca Augusta, as the Duke August’s own collection is known.

The current library building was opened in 1887, and new reading rooms, exhibition spaces and other facilities have been added in nearby buildings in more recent times. In 1983, the library was established as an independent research centre by the State of Lower Saxony, with an active programme which allows approximately 150 scholars to work in the library each year and the addition of a large reference collection to support the study of the early books. In addition, since that time there has been an active programme of acquisitions of both printed books and manuscripts of all ages, building on the strengths of the collection and embarking in new directions. The library is now designated as the national repository for printed books of the seventeenth century. It is remarkable in having maintained its collection virtually intact since the seventeenth century.

A good introduction to the library and its collections can be found in A Treasure House of Books: the library of the Duke August of Brunwick-Wolfenbüttel, Wolfenbüttel, 1998.

Ligatus is a research unit of the University of the Arts London with particular interest in the history bookbinding, book conservation, archiving and the application of digital technology to these fields. Ligatus’s main research projects currently include the conservation of the books in the library of St Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai and the development of a multi-lingual glossary of bookbinding terms.

The Incidental Person - curated by Antony Hudek

Opening reception: 6th January 2010, 6pm
The Incidental Person

The late British artist John Latham referred to the 'Incidental Person' as someone who invests a situation, observes it and responds to it in a specific, though not necessarily tangible or practical, way. For Latham and some of the other artists involved in Artist Placement Group (APG) between the 1960s and 1980s, the Incidental Person allowed the emphasis to shift from the person's identity — 'artist', 'theorist', 'worker', 'politician' etc. — to her or his engagement in a given context. Hence APG's axiom 'Context is half the work.'

Here the context is a group exhibition selected as part of apexart's annual call for unsolicited proposals. Thus the exhibition itself can be seen as incidental to a pre-existing framework, and its curator and participants as incidental persons invited to act within the event's given parameters — a relatively small space in Manhattan, with a relatively small budget. As befits their incidentality, many of the projects in the exhibition The Incidental Person are still, at the time of writing, in development. What is certain, however, is that the displayed projects will reflect the incidental persons' engagement in diverse situations, irrespective of whether these situations fall within the remit of what one calls 'art' or not.

Including work by: Ron Bernstein, RaphaëleBidault-Waddington, Luca Frei, Will Holder, Marysia Lewandowska, Gianni Motti, Brian O'Doherty, Joachim Pfeufer, Keiko Sei, Barbara Steveni, Megan Sullivan, Neal White, and Portland State University MFA Art and Social Practice Concentration: Katy Asher, Katherine Ball with Alec Neal and Matthew Warren, Jennifer Delos Reyes, Harrell Fletcher, Constance Hockaday, Ariana Jacob, Hannah Jickling & Helen Reed, Laurel Kurtz & Sandy Sampson, The Print Factory, Eric Steen, Michelle Swinehart, Lexa Walsh, Jason Zimmerman.

All events are free and open to the public.
291 Church Street,
NYC, 10013
Telephone: +1 212 431 5270

Ligatus builds Object Retrieval website

1 object explored for 7 days, 24 hours a day, by a rolling team of researchers from the arts and sciences.

Object Retrieval is a project by artist Joshua Sofaer and is curated by Simon Gould in association with UCL Museums & Collections. The website for the project has been created by the Ligatus Research Unit. Object Retrieval has a simple premise - to uncover as much information as possible about one object from UCL’s Museums & Collections in the space of 7 days.

By inviting as many experts from as many subjects as we can muster as well as members of the general public to explore the object, we hope to amass a huge, potentially limitless biography of the object. We hope that these contributions will include scientific analyses of the object, personal anecdotes, drawings, anthropological accounts and many many more types of information.

For more information, please visit Object Retrieval


Prof. Pickwoad receives the Plowden Medal 2009

Professor Nicholas Pickwoad has been awarded the Royal Warrant Holder Association's 2009 Plowden Medal. The award has been made in recognition of his work in the study and conservation of historic libraries and rare books. The medal will be presented to him by HRH The Princess Royal and the Royal Warrant Holders Association Lunch in London on 2nd June 2009.

The gold medal, inaugurated in 1999, is awarded by the Roal Warrant Holders Association in memory of the late Hon. Anna Plowden CBE, the leading conservator who was Vice-President of the Association at the time of her death in 1997. The Medal is presented annually to the individual who has made the most significant recent contribution to the advancement of the conservation profession. It can also be awarded to recognise lifetime of commitment and achievement.

Richard Watling, President of the Royal Warrant Holders Association comments, “We are delighted to present the Plowden Medal too Nicholas Pickwoad, his innovative work, born out of an in-depth knowledge of bookbinding combined with a scholar’s understanding for the conservation of the book and historical library, has had a fundamental effect on current practice and will stand as a reference point for future generations of conservation professionals.”


The Trustees of the John Latham Foundation announced the opening of Flat Time House (FTHo), the home of the late artist, to the public on 2 October 2008.

John Latham (1921 – 2006), one of the most important British artists of the post-war period, lived at FTHo in Peckham, South East London for over 20 years. The House is now home to the John Latham Foundation and the John Latham Archive, and will be the primary location for a 10-month programme of exhibitions and events exploring the artist’s practice, his theoretical ideas and their continued relevance. The opening show, Distress of a Dictionary, will be a solo exhibition exploring the role of language and humour in Latham’s work.

Latham considered the house a ‘living sculpture’, with different rooms taking on the attributes of a living organism. At FTHo, a giant and colourful book-relief sculpture penetrates a large window on the front of the house, known as the Face, into a room called the Mind, in which a permanent installation of works demonstrating Latham’s Time-Base Theory has been maintained. The next room is known as the Brain. Latham described it as the space for ‘rational thought’ and this is where he worked on his theoretical writing and correspondence. The Brain will now be home to the John Latham Archive. The Hand, formerly Latham’s studio, will be the main location for the programme of changing exhibitions and events. The remainder of the house is taken up with what is termed the ‘Body Event’, where eating, sleeping and ‘plumbing’ take place. The name of the house derives from John’s theoretical language, in which ‘Flat Time’ describes the way in which time and all possible events can be represented by the length and width of a flat canvas, demonstrated in works including Time-Base Roller (1972. Tate Collection).

In the painting and sculpture for which he is best known, Latham’s primary materials included glass, books, canvas and the spray gun. Developing alongside this concise visual language, from the mid-1950s onwards, was a cosmological theory, formulated through his art-making discoveries that considered time and event to be more primary than the established means of understanding, based on space and matter. Termed Time-Base Theory it offers an ordering and unification of all events in the universe including human actions, allowing an understanding of the special status of the artist in society, and is articulated by a permanent installation at FTHo.

The programme at FTHo will explore important moments and themes within Latham’s practice, including his involvement with underground culture in 1960s London, his interest in ecological issues and solutions and a re-evaluation of his work in film and video. Works by Latham’s contemporaries and collaborators will also be exhibited, as well as pieces by a younger generation of artists influenced by his practice. The programme at FTHo will run from October 2008 to July 2009 and is supported by the John Latham Foundation and Lisson Gallery.

Latham has been associated with several national and international artistic movements since he began showing work in the late 1940s. He is associated with the first phase of conceptual art of the 1960s, was an important contributor to the Destruction in Art Symposium of 1966, and was a founder member of the Artist Placement Group (1966-89). Latham’s work has been exhibited internationally, including recent solo exhibitions at Tate Britain (2005) and PS1, New York (2006). His work has been included in numerous historic group shows and many survey exhibitions of British Art since the 1960s including Live in Your Head (Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2000), From Blast To Freeze (Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany, 2003) and Art and the 60s: This was tomorrow (Tate Britain, 2004). Latham’s work is held in collections worldwide, including Tate Collection and MoMA.

Since 1970 John Latham’s work has been represented by Lisson Gallery

Flat Time House, 210 Bellenden Road London SE15 4BW
Hours: (during exhibitions): Thursday – Sunday, 11am – 5pm

FTHo will also be open by appointment for private study and research.
Admission: Free

Directions: The nearest train station is Peckham Rye. Regular bus services operate to Peckham Rye or Peckham Square.

Artist Placement Group (APG): An initiative by Barbara Steveni, APG was co-founded with John Latham, Jeffrey Shaw and Barry Flanagan in 1966. The group pioneered new models for the artist working within industry and government departments. Their work continues to provoke debate around the role of the artist in society, as well as socially engaged and relational art practices. The APG archive was acquired by the Tate Collection in 2005.

For further information about the John Latham Foundation, Archive and Flat Time House, please contact Elisa Kay, Curator at
+44 (0)20 7207 4845/+44 (0)7968 052 303.

For press enquiries please contact Catherine Mason at Calum Sutton PR, or 020 7340 1416.

New Research Fellow at JLA

As of yesterday, 15 September, Antony Hudek is the new Research Fellow who has joined Ligatus to work on the John Latham Archive. Antony brings strong art historian and archiving experience to the project alongside excellent academic skills. He will be based in both the Flat-Time-House and the Ligatus office and his primary role will be to implement a classification system for the JLA documents based on John Latham's cosmological ideas.

Antony and Athanasios Velios will still work with Simon Gould who although has now moved to a different post will still be involved in the project in an advisory capacity.

We would like to welcome Antony to the project and we are looking forward to working with him.

Panizzi Lectures

Bindings as evidence of the culture and business of books

A series of three lectures by Nicholas Pickwoad

This series of lectures looks at different aspects of bookbinding to show how bindings can be interpreted and how physical evidence can offer a key not only to the history of individual books and bookbinding workshops, but also to a wider understanding of the function and value of books.

At 18.15 in the Conference Centre, British Library, Euston Road.

Lecture 1
Wednesday 26 November 2008

The Art of Bookbinding: bookbindings in art and art on a bookbinding

Explores through a number of specific examples how artists consciously used different types of binding in their paintings and sculptures with the intention of conveying specific meanings, and shows a rare sixteenth-century example of a work of art by an acknowledged artist used to decorate a binding.

Lecture 2
Tuesday 2 December 2008

The binder who was not Vincent Williamson: working habits and their use in identifying who actually bound the book

Finishing tools have long been used to identify where and by whom books may have been bound, but by looking at the structures of the same books, it is often possible to identify the different individuals who made the books within the same workshop.

Lecture 3
Wednesday 10 December 2008

On the deckle edge: indications of status and economy

When all paper was hand-made, the deckle edge was seen as an awkward inconvenience, to be removed to make books easier to handle and keep clean. The survival therefore of deckle edges on a bound textblock gives an important indication of the status of a binding within the booktrade, but their survival on other parts of a binding, such as endleaves and covers, can also offer clues to the economics of the book trade.

[inline:Panizzi4.gif=Panizzi Lectures Poster]

The Lecturer

D. Phil at Oxford University (1978), trained with Roger Powell and established a conservation workshop in Norfolk, England in 1977. In 1978 became Adviser on Book Conservation to the National Trust and in 1983 was appointed conservation consultant to the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Served on the Committee of the Institute of Paper Conservation (1977-88) and was editor of the Paper Conservator from 1984 to 1989. Lecturer on The History of European Bookbinding 1500-1800 at the annual Rare Book School in the U.S. 1985-2003. Elected Fellow of the I.I.C in 1988 and was 1989 Rosenbach Fellow in Bibliography at the University of Pennsylvania. Was Visiting Professor in the Columbia University School of Library Service, Conservation Education Program from 1990-92. From 1992-5 was Chief Conservator in the Harvard University Library. In 1993, gave the Homee Randeria Lecture in Bookbinding for the Bibliographical Society of Great Britain. Research fellow at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel in 1996. In 1998 appointed Visiting Professor at the London Institute to lead the conservation project in the library of the monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai, Egypt (appointed full professor in 2005). Director of the newly-created research unit, Ligatus, in 2007.

Ligatus Launch

A reception was held at the Great Hall of Lambeth Palace on 13 May 2008
to celebrate the official launch of the Ligatus Research Unit. Over 130
guests attended, representing a diverse range of interests, both
academic, practical and commercial.

[inline:LigatusLaunch11.JPG=Lambeth Palace Photo Naomi Hodgkin]

Professor Nicholas Pickwoad, Director of Ligatus, made a short speech in
which he gave an overview of the plans and goals of Ligatus. He stated
that bookbinding constitutes a substantial and hugely under-exploited
resource in the process of understanding books and that Ligatus is
intended to be a major step in bringing bookbinding into mainstream

[inline:LigatusLaunch8.JPG=Professor Nicholas Pickwoad Photo Naomi Hodgkin]

The event could not have happened without the generous support offered by
the University of the Arts London, the Lambeth Palace Library, and the
generosity of Bernard Quaritch Ltd. Professor Pickwoad also expressed
his gratitude to the Saint Catherine Foundation for their generous and
continuing support of the work undertaken in the library of the
monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai, which has been the genesis
of so much that Ligatus hopes to achieve.

[inline:LigatusLaunch9.JPG=Ligatus Launch Photo Naomi Hodgkin]

Ligatus website online

The Ligatus website is now online. Work on the website will continue over the next few days. This will mainly focus on the individual project websites which might in the meantime be inaccessible.

Updates to be published regularly here.


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