Bishop Archibald Effigy, Elgin Cathedral

Research output: Other contribution


Historic structures, architecture and artefacts can give us an amazing insight into what life was like when these objects were first created. However, this image of the past is often missing an important feature - colour. We see artefacts such as elaborately carved stonework and effigies with a raw stone finish and assume this is how they always looked. Our mental image of the past is often black and white, but it was more colourful than we imagine. With the loss of the fragile patina and colourful paint finishes from so many carved objects, we have lost an important understanding of what these objects used to look like. This practice-based research project was grant funded by Historic Scotland and examined how digital projection, directly applied onto three dimensional artefacts, can open up new interpretation opportunities that encourage viewers to examine the original artefacts more closely. Novel techniques were developed to blend digital projection with museum quality display lighting. To prove the potential worth of these techniques, Innes developed a system that worked with off the shelf technologies without the use of proprietary software. Close examination of the Bishop’s Effigy form Elgin Cathedral reveals the remnants of paint finishes that originally covered the entire object. Traditional printed and digital interpretation methods would use two dimensional displays with artists renders to give some sense of the original colouration, but the nature of the 2D artwork display disconnects the viewer from the exhibit itself. Whilst it is not practical or desirable to permanently restore the original paint finishes, in order to give visitors an insight into what this effigy would have originally looked like, this research project utilised digital projection to virtually restore the historic colours directly on the exhibit. This permanent exhibit at Historic Scotland's Elgin Cathedral property opened to the public at Easter 2016.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


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