You are here:

The material turn in fields that rely on historical printed matter has led to interest in how those texts and images were - and are - produced. Those objects, including cut woodblocks, etched and engraved metal plates, and lithographic stones, could be fundamental to research. Tens of thousands survive from the last 500 years, but the vast majority are inaccessible because they do not fit into the cataloguing structures and controlled vocabularies used by the libraries, archives and museums that hold them.

Those that are accessible tend to be under-used, as few researchers are equipped to understand them or communicate about them across disciplinary boundaries. Even the most basic term is debated: in book research, a matrix is the mould for casting pieces of type; in art research, each resulting type is a matrix (and the sheets printed from them are the multiples). As new possibilities to catalogue and digitise these artefacts are revealing their research potential, it is essential to establish how they can be best made available and how they can be used in research.

This deeply interdisciplinary conference will survey the state of research into cut woodblocks, intaglio plates, lithographic stones, and other matrices/printing surfaces. It will bring together researchers, curators, librarians, printers, printmakers, cataloguers, conservators, digital humanities practitioners, and others who care for or study these objects. The discussion will encompass all media and techniques, from the fifteenth century through the present. 

Project Details

This event is part of a 12-month British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, 'The Matrix Reloaded: Establishing Cataloguing and Research Guidelines for Artefacts of Printing Images', The discussions will support the creation of a research network to distil a single, interdisciplinary best practice from existing standards across disciplines and heritage collections and produce a program to train researchers to engage with matrices/printing surfaces.


Convenor: Elizabeth Savage (IES)

Committee: Giles Bergel (Oxford) and Caroline Duroselle-Melish (Folger)




  • £60 Standard rate with British Academy reception
  • £30 Concessions rate with British Academy reception
  • £45 Standard rate without reception
  • £16 Concessions rate without reception

Please click on the BOOK NOW button to sign up. 

Registration is required for all events. Please sign up using the booking form below.