The Skene Album – An artistic partnership between author and artist

Collection: Walter Scott Image Collection; Persons: Scott, Walter; Event: N/A; Place: Scotland; UK; Category: Art; Description:

James Skene was a close friend of one of Scotland’s greatest and most influential writers. By profession  he was a lawyer, but he was also a keen amateur artist.

Skene and Scott first met as fellow Advocates at the Scottish Bar and were brought together by their common love of German literature. They were subsequently joint co-founders of the Light Horse Regiment and the pair formed a close friendship.

This particular album appears to have fallen into obscurity over the years, as it had been in private collections and out of public view. Skene made these sketches for Scott to use as a reference or aide-memoire when writing his novels. Knowledge of its existence does not appear in any research or exhibitions relating to Scott or Skene. We were very fortunate to have this new acquisition and it was a pleasure to personally handle this beautiful album and see every drawing up close.

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“A Beautiful Way to Remember” – Digitising the LHSA’s HIV/AIDS Collections

At the beginning of this year, I started in my role as the Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service’s new Digitisation Assistant. As part of the team responsible for providing the main digitisation services for the university’s heritage collections, I have been getting familiar with some the unique and varied collections here at the University of Edinburgh, as well as learning the ins and outs of cultural heritage digitisation. Continue reading

Introducing a 3D Digitisation Service: Feasible or Fantasy?

For the past eleven weeks I’ve had the opportunity to intern with the Digital Imaging Unit, working on a project to evaluate the potential of establishing a 3D digitisation service within the department. “3D digitisation” in this sense encompasses everything from the initial production of digital models – using suitable items from across the University Collections – to online display, preservation of 3D data, and 3D printing. The project was roughly organised into three phases: research, testing, and implementation.  

Although I worked primarily with Susan Pettigrew (Photographer, DIU) and Mike Boyd (uCreate Manager) I always felt supported by the other Library & University Collections staff; everyone I had the chance to speak to was eager to discuss their own work on top of contributing to the project. 

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Lyell’s School of Rock

 

In November 2019 the Library excitedly welcomed Sir Charles Lyell’s two hundred and ninety-four notebooks into its Special Collections. With support and funding from leading institutions, groups and donations pledged from over 1000 individuals, this tectonic acquisition meant the notebooks were able to stay in the UK and join the Library’s existing collection of Lyell-related materials. As part of the DIU team, I was lucky enough to photograph Lyell’s notebooks, working with the world’s finest quality cameras to digitise a previously private collection into the public sphere and beyond.

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Digital Wall Student Experience Internships

Student browsing images of Library and University Collections on the Digital Wall

This past Winter 2019/20 the Digital Imaging Unit and Centre for Research Collections Museums teams hosted two student interns to support the development of the new Digital Wall, which opened in the University of Edinburgh’s main Library in September 2019. The students, Dario Lucarini (Napier University) and Tom Hutton (Edinburgh College of Art), were tasked with Continue reading

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Tips for Searching Image Collections

The Digital Imaging Unit hosts the digitised content it has produced on a site called Image Collections. This site is available for searching, sharing, exporting, and reusing publically available and copyrighted images from the Library and University Collections. Many images have been used for research, teaching, publications and creating new content.

Need some images? Here are some tips for searching Image Collections.

  1. Site Overview

    The home page has a tiled look that will allow for you to jump straight into a collection of images (grouped by theme) to browse or to search across all collections using the search box at the top. If you click on a collection tile, it will take you to a collection overview page describing what you will find within that collection. Some collection pages have additional iiif manifest links so you can view an entire book as if reading through it, instead of looking at each page as an individual page. If you decide to browse that collection it will take you to a gallery style view of all the images in that collection. You can increase the number of images that appear at a time and page through to browse the entire collection. You can also use the navigation pane on the left side of the screen to filter based on specific characteristics, such as what, where, who and when.

  2. Searching Across Collections

    If you are looking for a specific search term, such as ‘student’, make sure to search across All Collections. Hover over the Collections tab on the top left of the page until Continue reading

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Dong Ding The Boundary of Balance – Documentary Condition Photography

The Art Collection acquired one piece from Dong Ding’s sculptural jewellery collection Boundary of Balance; a series of works which explores the relationship and tension between balance and imbalance.  Each of the carefully crafted kinetic pieces can be worn in multiple ways – disassembled and re-assembled by the wearer – with interchangeable and detachable details such as rings, tie pins and earrings integrated into the overall composition.

The movement of each piece is influenced by these counterbalanced components, as well as by the body and actions of the wearer. Sharing a passing resemblance to historical navigational tools, the works come accompanied with bespoke laser cut instructions identifying the multiple permutations for the wearer.  Julie-Ann Delaney Art Collections Curator University of Edinburgh.

“A piece may contain hidden details and contrasting elements of weight and material. The work is kinetic with moveable parts that invite play. Movement is influenced by counterbalanced components, interchangeable parts and the wearer’s body movement. Through interaction with the work, the wearer is invited to play with the tension between balance and imbalance.” Dong Ding.

Museum Collections Manager Anna Hawkins outlined the photography and handling of the complex object. Multiple images were required to accurately record the condition of the piece at point of entry into the Museum Collections. This included two views of the whole object back and front and in addition back and front views of each individual part of the object in isolation.

To achieve a detailed representation I employed focus stacking to achieve the consistent detail. This involves taking multiple images at different focal lengths and aligning these images to create one image with overall focus. Below is a selection of some of the images captured. I have included partial details to demonstrate the capabilities of our medium format cameras. The resulting Tiff files are delivered to the Museum Collections team in excess of 100Mb which can be used for condition checking and allowing detailed object examination. These images are also suitable for publication, broadcast and social media.

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Incunabula: Fables, foliage and a female Pope

Hortus sanitatis, Fol.101 verso

I was lucky enough to be involved in the Incunabula pilot project here in the Digital Imaging Unit. This project  helped to create a digitisation workflow for Incunabula collection items using the i2S CopiBook v-shape scanner. These bound volumes are printed using a variety of early printing methods including wood block printing resulting in beautifully crafted and illustrated objects. This project afforded an opportunity to get up close and personal with these beautiful and often entertaining treasures,  that were quite literally being brought into the light through the capture of images.  

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Baltic, Books and Solidarity: Gdańsk University of Technology (GUT) International Staff Week

Gdańsk University of Technology

I was delighted to be able to participate in the 4th International Staff Week at the Biblioteki Politechniki Gdańskiej recently. I work as the Senior Photographer for Edinburgh University’s Library and University Collections, so when I saw that the programme included a visit to the Pomeranian Digital Library it looked like a great opportunity. Additionally, this was the home institution of one of the delegates on our own Knowledge Exchange Week in 2018, allowing further development of previous Erasmus links.

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