Tea’s research focuses on the material characterisation of pigments found in manuscripts and paintings from different historical periods. She combines traditional archival research with material analysis using primarily non-invasive analytical methods (XRF, XRD, FORS and Raman); and uses this integrated approach to help shape new perspectives on heritage collections. She has a particular interest in exploring social, cultural and anthropological aspects that might have shaped specific material choices.
Tea trained as a Heritage Scientist in Turin and Genoa (Italy) before obtaining her joint PhD in Archaeometry from the University of Hamburg and the University of Rome la Sapienza. Her doctoral dissertation looked at the black pigments used as writing materials in Late Antique Egypt and revealed an unexpected correlation between the genre of text written (literary religious versus documentary) and the type of ink used (iron-gall ink versus carbon ink).
In 2020, she moved to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to work on the project CHROMOTOPE, which explores the impact of the Industrial Revolution in art, literature, technology and visual culture across Europe.
The first research project she designed and authored builds upon her previous work on 19th-century pigments and looks at the watercolours that the Victorian art critic John Ruskin used during his lectures at the School of Art he founded in Oxford in 1871. This project was recently awarded the Seal of Excellence from the European Commission and is now carried out thanks to funding from the Leverhulme Trust.
From October 2022, Tea holds a position as Junior Research Fellow at Linacre College.
Forthcoming. Tea Ghigo, Daniel Bone , David Howell, Kelly Domoney, Michele Gironda, Andrew Beeby, 'Material characterisation of Burges’ Great Bookcase within the disruption of a global pandemic'.
Forthcoming. Tea Ghigo, 'Colour Matters. Reading the materiality of the Great Bookcase' in Stories of Colour: William Burges’ Great Bookcase, Yale University Press.
2021. Tea Ghigo. 'Where Science meets Victorian Art', Ashmolean Magazine.
2020. Tea Ghigo, Ira Rabin, Paola Buzi, 'Black Egyptian inks in Late Antiquity: new insights into their manufacture and use', Journal of Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.
2020. Tea Ghigo, Ira Rabin 'Gaining insight into manuscripts materiality: the contribution of archaeometry to the study of the inks of the White Monastery codices', Proceedings of the Third International PAThs Conference, Studies in Manuscript Cultures.
2020. Tea Ghigo, Sofía Torallas 'Between literary and documentary text: The Montserrat Codex Miscellaneus and the material investigation of its inks', Proceedings of the Third International PAThs Conference, Studies in Manuscript Cultures.
Ruskin’s painting materials: what he used, what he chose, what he taught
Chromotope – Exploring what happened to colour in the 19th century