Ligatus news

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.


Subscribe to Ligatus news