New publication: Pretty Sparkie! – (Re)presenting an Animal Celebrity

For anyone interested in the representation of working class identity in the North East, and/or the cultural identity of natural history specimens, I have written an article for this recently published book concerning the social history of Sparkie the Budgie from the former Hancock Museum, (now Great North Museum: Hancock), UK. The publication can be purchased in digital and printed formats here, huzzah!

Literally celebrating a new chapter

My article entitled: ‘The Animals went in two by two’ (pp. 184-197) in ‘Museum Storage and Meaning: Tales from the Crypt’ (Routledge Research in Museum Studies) is now published! This and starting a new job earlier in the month mean it has certainly been a busy few weeks.

It’s always nice to get hold of an actual copy, and mine arrived this morning. Here’s a photo of Mr. heirloom modelling it. 

Museum Storage and Meaning is available to purchase around the world, both from Routledge and from third party sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble (US) and Blackwells (UK). It is available in Hardback (978-1-138-06597-0), and eBook formats (various ISBNs). The eBook is available from the Amazon Kindle Store, Apple iBook Store and from our partner eBook provider, VitalSource.

A really positive credit for my research – Leeds nostalgia: The story of the Leeds Tiger

It’s strange how past projects occasionally resurface… Just after Christmas an article relating to Leeds Museums & Galleries popped up in the Yorkshire Evening Post about the Leeds Tiger – a piece of very old taxidermy that frankly, I know waaay too much about. A copy of my Master’s dissertation resides in the archive at Leeds associated with the Tiger, and I’m glad that it is being used by those interested in the object’s colourful history. It was nice to be given such a positive credit in the article too!

See the original article: HERE.




Upcoming collaborative exhibition this Summer! INSTIGATE : EXCHANGE …A few rules

Fellow artist Ian C. Taylor and I are thrilled to announce the dates of our collaborative exhibition ‘Instigate: Exchange’ at Water Street Gallery, Todmorden. We have been working on this project for over a year, and are so excited to show you lots of new works!


Conference of the Curious

On the 21st September I had the pleasure of presenting a paper entitled Making Natural Knowledge: the Art & Science of Taxidermy at Conference for the Curious, an event held as part of the Cabinets of Curiosity exhibition at Bankfield Museum (1st August – 3rd October 2015).

Conference for the curious

A lovely day was had by all and it always helps when lunch is included!

conference for the curious talks

Conference: Refloating the Ark

On the 17th June I had the pleasure of presenting a paper entitled Unwinding the Binding: Interpreting Taxidermy Practice & Making use of Damaged Mounts for Refloating the Ark: connecting the public and scientists with natural history museums – A conference held at Manchester University and orgaised by Manchester Museum (17–18 June 2015).

I was the last speaker of the first day, and it was always going to be a challenge to follow the really insightful (and charismatic!) speakers before me; especially since so many of us were on the same page that the same ideas cropped up over and over again! However, I think the fact that the same themes kept recurring really demonstrated how natural science professionals and enthusiasts really are starting to think in parallel with one another, as well as being smart about it to boot. The conference was really enjoyable, and the questions that followed at the end were stimulating and thought provoking. The main aim of the conference was to debate and ‘explore how museums can fulfil their potential to support environmental sustainability, and connect people with the natural world’.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any great pictures myself, but here are a few taken during my presentation that ended up in the Twittersphere #RFArk


…favorite animal representations

I have been thinking about featuring some of my favorite animal representations, the things that I have laying about the house and refuse to get rid of. Simple, but wonderful. See John Berger’s seminal essay: Why look at Animals? (1977) – Always a source of inspiration, despite its age.