Pigmentum News

All the latest news from the Pigmentum Project.

More of our work on artificial intelligence was presented at the 18th International Conference on Case-Based Reasoning (ICCBR), held in Alessandria, Italy, from 19 July to 22 July 2010.

The co-authored paper on case-based reasoning and argumentation in studies on patterns in historical pigment use was also published in the proceedings: Silva, L.A.L., Campbell, J.A., Eastaugh, N. and Buxton, B.F. “A Case for Folk Arguments in Case-Based Reasoning” ICCBR 2010.

Pigmentum welcomes Dr. Anabelle Kriznar

Pigmentum participated in a British Council initiative to assist researchers in making international connections through their Researcher Exchange Programme (RXP). This is aimed at supporting new links between postdoctoral researchers in the UK and in other countries. RXP provides individual researchers with awards covering travel and subsistence costs, and some consumables costs, needed to develop new scientific collaborations and contacts through exchange visits of between two week and three months. The purpose of RXP is to help develop new research links between higher education institutions and research laboratories in the UK and other countries. It aims to encourage mobility and internationalism among postdoctoral researchers for the exchange of information, ideas and knowledge, and for long-term relationship building.

Pigmentum acted as host (in collaboration with the British Museum) for Dr. Anabelle Kriznar, from Lubljana, Slovenia.

September 2009 saw the publication of the first volume of the new Journal of InCoRM, with a revised version of Nicholas Eastaugh’s paper entitled “Authenticity and the scientific method. Past approaches, present problems and future promise” included.

InCoRM (the International Chamber of Russian Modernism) was founded in Paris on 14th April 2007 by independent specialist Experts in Russian art historical and scientific fields. It was registered as a non-profit organisation (NPO) in Paris in February 2008. The aim of InCoRM is to promote Russian Modernism so as to meet the increasing demand amongst art historians, collectors, museums, arts institutions and the market, for a coherent and unified approach. InCoRM’s commitment is to freedom in all aspects of its activities and relies on the highest scholarly, professional and ethical standards.

Nicholas Eastaugh contributed to the National Heritage Science Strategy Report 2 ‘Use of science in understanding the past’ on use of different scientific disciplines to help us understand the past, published June 2009. You can find this report, and the others, here


The BookNET Research Cluster grew from an existing network, the (Centre for the Study of the Book), based in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, in partnership with the British Library, Universiteitsbibliotheek Leiden, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich and the Center for the Study of Books and Media, Princeton University. The aim of this Centre is to enrich access to collections of books by fostering research that crosses academic and professional specialisms, and by promoting this research through innovative projects, public programmes, and digital developments. In order to develop this activity in a specifically technological direction, we have brought together for the first time a national and international Cluster of researchers who have studied the various components of the book as object, with the aim of sharing expertise and generating new interactions, and, by bringing in expertise from related study areas, we intend to define a research agenda for the technical study of this overlooked but vital component of the cultural heritage. The outcomes will be of value to those charged with the curation and understanding of this vast legacy, and also all those researchers and lay audience interested in literary and art history, materials science and the history of technology.

Pigmentum has been contributing to this BookNet Research Cluster. In addition to presentations at the meetings, a discussion paper by Nicholas Eastaugh and Sarah Neate entitled “Paint analysis and the technological study of manuscripts. A BookNET discussion document” has been included as part of the final outputs of BookNET. [PDF]

Cinnabar and vermilion in the synchrotron

Pigmentum is a major participant in a research project studying cinnabar and vermilion using synchrotron techniques, with special reference to issues of provenance and deterioration. We were awarded a total of six days of synchrotron time (November 2008 and February 2009) on Beamline I18 at Diamond Light Source.

This work included the study of samples from the Pigmentum Project collection of historical pigments, material from the Natural History Museum as well as examples from colleagues and our own syntheses. Results are currently being analysed and a series of papers is planned on the basis of the findings. Further research by our group is also in progress on this topic.

Our research was also the focus of a 15 minute programme on BBC Radio 4 in February 2009. You can also read and hear the Diamond Podcast here.

Artificial Intelligence may not seem like an area Pigmentum would normally work in, but Nicholas Eastaugh has co-authored a paper presented at the 19th Brazilian Symposium on Artificial Intelligence (SBIA) in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, October 26-30, 2008.

Essentially this is looking at how we take information, such as analytical data, and make use of it in the real world where we have to make decisions about new situations. Case-Based Reasoning (’CBR’) is a method of taking decisions made in the past and relating these to novel problems.

Silva, L.A.L., Campbell, J.A., Eastaugh, N. and Buxton, B.F. “A Case for Numerical Taxonomy in Case-Based Reasoning” Proceedings SBIA 2008, Zaverucha, G. and da Costa, A.L., eds. (2008). [PDF]

Helen Wilson, who has been a postgraduate intern with us under the Heritage Lottery Fund scheme running September 2007 to September 2008 has now left us to go on to PhD studies at the British Museum and University of Manchester under a recent joint AHRC-EPSRC funded scheme supporting science in cultural heritage. Helen will be researching “Interventive conservation of black-dyed organic materials: the problem of metal-polyphenol complexes”. We wish her all the very best in this. You can read more about her new work here.

Three Societies Conference

The sixth joint meeting of the British Society for the History of Science, the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, and the History of Science Society, otherwise known as the Three Societies Conference, took place at Keble College in Oxford, UK, on 4-6 July 2008. The theme of the meeting was Connecting Disciplines and it featured over 350 papers ranging chronologically from Ancient Science to the present with a wide thematic and geographical range.

As part of this Nicholas Eastaugh and Sarah Lowengard presented a paper entitled “Scientific Analysis and Works of Art Connect to Create a Profession? Notes on the Perennially Emerging Field of Technical Art History”.

A new edition combining the original two volumes of The Pigment Compendium, with revisions, has been published on the 16 June 2008 by Butterworth-Heinemann. You can either buy it through us, or from usual sources.