Category Archives: Projects

Digitisation: Eduardo Paolozzi Mosaics

I have spent the past 6 weeks digitising mosaic fragments here in the DIU. Recently removed from Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, London, these mosaics were once part of a mural by the Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi that was first installed in 1984. The mosaics, now part of the University of Edinburgh Art Collection, make up about 5% of all the Tottenham Court Road murals by the artist, with the mosaics I am working on coming from the station archways more specifically. In an article for the Guardian Newspaper, London Underground’s design and heritage manager, Mike Ashworth, called this “one of the UK’s largest art conservation projects of the last decade” so I am very pleased to be involved.

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There are approximately 600 fragments of various shapes, sizes and colours spread over 42 boxes and 4 pallets. Unfortunately, the mural was not removed with conservation in mind so it is not exactly in great condition. It will be challenging to piece it all back together, first digitally and then physically. The long-term plan is to reconstruct the mural and install it within the university campus therefore giving it new life. So watch this space…!

I have been tasked with digitising each fragment. On completion, the aim is then to use the images in conjunction with image recognition software and an image of the original design, to digitally re-assemble the mural. This should provide a new digital image of the mural which will assist with the proposed physical reconstruction. The process will inform us whether areas of the mural are missing, and would need to be remade in some form.


On a technical level, I have been using a high-spec digital Hasselblad-H4 camera and professional, Bowens studio lights in my digitisation process. To begin with, I capture several mosaic fragments in one shot and then go on to crop, and edit, each piece individually before saving as a separate, new file. The tricky part comes in ensuring that the scale of each fragment is represented correctly with every image produced. This is why placing a ruler within each raw image capture is crucial so to allow for the mosaics to be scaled to a 1:1 ratio by resizing them in Adobe Photoshop. If the size of the fragments were to be incorrect then this could cause problems later down the line when trying to complete this digital jigsaw (see image below!). Further, the faces/upside of the mosaics must be perpendicular to the focal plane of the camera and, collectively, the mosaics must be of equal distance to focal plane. The same principles apply for the positioning of the ruler itself. This confirms that perspectives are not distorted and that the relative size of the mosaics remains consistent throughout the project.



Currently, I am awaiting the arrival of the pallets as I have digitised all the fragments from the boxes. The majority of what is still to come are much larger mosaics fragments. I may be required to digitally stitch multiple images together in order to produce a single image. This is because some mosaics may be too large to photograph in their entirety on the copy stand. No doubt this will raise some new challenges to overcome!


Project Photographer (Paolozzi Project)

DIU Moving Image Update

The work that DIU are developing around moving image has grown considerably in the last two years and the demand for moving image has increased exponentially with each new film produced. We now have around twenty two separate projects archived on the servers, some of these include up to six films in one project.  A good example of that is the Curators short films that appear on the Universities Collections web page. Recently we produced an exhibition introduction film for Towards Dolly : A Century of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh. The Dolly intro film features on the University Collections page, social media and also on the Towards Dolly exhibition App. This is the second exhibition App we have contributed to which is proving a popular way to deliver content. The izi App is a free download from the Apple App store and contains information on the Dolly and “Out Of The Blue” exhibitions. We have also made our first contact with digitising 8mm film in the form of Eric Lucy’s “Drosophila Egg” for the Towards Dolly exhibition which is currently open.

Projects under way at writing include time-lapse films “Documenting the Redevelopment of St Cecilia’s Hall” the first section of which you can see below. This section is the very early stages and we are now starting to film the deconstruction of the 1960’s caretakers flat. This is an ongoing project which shall also include film of musical instrument conservation work to be shown on screen within the new development and musical performance using the collection itself.

The performances captured already include the exhibition opening concert for “The Stuart Sound” exhibition currently open in the Centre for Research Collections which featured a beautiful performance of the anonymous, ”  but probably” Padua Lute circa 1620. Also captured are the recording sessions from the Edinburgh College Music Box Studio. These are active projects still to be completed.

In addition we have created seven two minute films as content for the upcoming Main Library guide App soon to be released on the Apple and Android App stores. We also have a ton of footage still to be bashed and coerced into a watch-able form. Watch this space for new material soon.

Malcolm Brown, Deputy Photographer.

Instrumental Challenges


Last week saw the start of a new project- photographing many of the University’s Musical Instruments while they are in storage at the Library during the re-development of St. Cecilia’s Music Hall. These images are planned for use in the new museum space, in printed materials, for social media and interactive Apps. The only guidance we have been given is ‘coffee-table book’ which gives the DIU team huge scope for interpretation and creativity. As the project progresses we hope to bring 3D photography into the mix, but for starters, this week the musical instruments team brought me 3 items for some studio shots.

The first was a Triple-fretted clavichord, possibly Flemish and c1620 (ref. 4486). Although this piece was quite simple and unadorned, it did have a bright red ribbon woven through the strings and the keys made a beautiful pattern, so I decide on a detail shot to highlight the mechanism.


The second item was a Rahab from Western Malaysia, c1977 (ref. 2101). This was a far more ornate and colourful piece. In fact, I was torn- both the front and back of the instrument presented interesting features to photograph, but how to get both sides at once? While at the Rijksmuseum conference Malcolm and I were impressed by their use of a black reflective surface in the photography of fashion accessories (see Malcolm suggested that we might be able to get a similar effect using a piece of black velvet and some glass, so I set up the studio to try it out. In the end I chose an angle looking down on the instrument that allowed details of both the strings and the red woollen back to be seen, however, the reflection adds further interest to the shot.

The final piece presented quite a different challenge. It is very rare that an object comes to us that leaves me scratching my head, but the ‘Jingling Johnny’ or Chapeau (ref. 6110) certainly did. A large, top heavy shiny brass instrument covered with dangling bells and fragile metalwork set atop a stick- how to keep it upright and perfectly still? The many shiny surfaces indicate that we will need to build a light tent to minimise reflections. This was clearly going to require some thought and planning, so we reluctantly decided to return this one to the store to reconvene another day!

In the coming months we will keep you posted on the projects progress.

Susan Pettigrew, Photographer

Anon Art

Another visual essay from me this week. I thought it would be interesting to share a closer look at the amazing work of the invisible artists who populate the title pages of many books in our collections. I am constantly astonished at the graphic accomplishment present in these works from anonymous artists. I have spent some time highlighting details that are inspiring works in their own right. These works stand on their own feet and in their own space. All images this week are details from ” The Faerie Queene “. Shelfmark JY 1096. Points of note are the best snake tongue ever drawn (see below) and a fantastic phoenix rising from flames. More images from the book can be found within our image collections at

Deputy Photographer, Malcolm Brown.

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Final selection of images of “Old Edinburgh” by Baldwin Brown.

This is the Digital Imaging Units final instalment of images from the Centre for Research Collections Baldwin Brown images of “Old Edinburgh”. Many thanks to those who have responded with information regarding geographical locations and general information. The feed back has been very welcome and useful! This set has a few obvious locations but yet more mystery. We will add the data collected to our metadata records for the images enriching that data for continued research.

Malcolm Brown




Baldwin Brown Images of Old Edinburgh

The Digital Imaging Unit have another five images from the Baldwin Brown glass plate negatives of Old Edinburgh recently digitized by the DIU. One of the images has an intriguing figure who appears in two of the images. I have included a close up from one of the images to highlight the shop he is standing in front of. We have had some great feedback on this set of Baldwin Brown images. The comments and observations have provided a fascinating insight on Edinburgh.

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New Baldwin Brown Images of Old Edinburgh.

As promised here are five more images of Old Edinburgh to test your memory! We first posted some images of Old Edinburgh a few weeks ago and got some great results in identifying locations. We have posted the album on CRC Facebook page also  in the hope to harvest useful metadata. We still have a few more of these wonderful images to roll out over the coming weeks.

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Baldwin Brown Images of Old Edinburgh

Recently in the DIU we have been digitizing 21 negatives of images described on their box Shelf-mark – E2005.1 Box 5, as ” Old Edinburgh.” We are aware that some members of Library staff enjoy the challenge of locating parts of the town from old photographs or unusual view points. We think some of these will present a challenge to even the keenest location spotting geeks and we would like to add any juicy information gathered to our related metadata fields. Over the next few weeks we shall post our “Old Edinburgh” images. No prizes for guessing except the smug air of recognition that a superior mind is at work. So as Bamber used to say , “Starter for ten ” anyone?


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Analogue Photoshop?

This week we started a trial – photographing some Glass Lantern Slides for the Towards Dolly Project, & one of the first images we took showed that there is nothing new under the sun…


GB 237 Coll-1434 (Box 4), Roslin Glass Slides. The Drop Scene Two Miles Up the Wanganui River, New Zealand. Photograph of a Maori girl standing on a canoe at ‘the drop scene two miles up the Wanganui River’ in New Zealand in the late 19th or early 20th century. In the background there is another canoe, jungle and mountains.

Although this slide was produced in the early 20th C, there is clear evidence of photo manipulation. Once we zoomed in on the image it became clear that the Maori Girl in her Canoe on New Zealand’s Wanganui River was in fact a fraud! Sunlight doesn’t often come from 2 directions, nor does perspective suddenly alter proportions (compare the girl’s canoe with the smaller canoe behind her). Furthermore, she has the classic ‘cut-out’ look of early photo-montages. Despite this, on the small 8cm x 8cm original, it is hard to spot at a glance- one of the unexpected bonuses of digitisation is the ability to zoom in on small details.

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