Stuffed Bird Attached

Stuffed Bird Attached is a collaborative bookwork complied by Kate Foster and Merle Patchett for the show Fashioning Feathers… 

Environmental artist, Kate Foster and cultural geographer, Merle Patchett have been collaborating on a “series of interventions in the afterlives of zoological specimens” for the past five years (see Patchett, Foster and Lorimer 2011, Patchett and Foster 2008 and Foster, Lorimer and Patchett 2006 –

Investigation of the unique ‘biogeographies’ of different specimens, has led them to think about collections, their histories, and the people involved in them. This is part of a wider consideration of the entwined relationships of human and animals, and the spaces in which they play out both within and beyond collections. 

In Stuffed Bird Attached, Foster and Patchett create an extended specimen label for the bird-of-paradise millinery specimens from the University of Alberta Clothing and Textiles Collection.

The bookwork is framed by two questions:

1. How does the presence of millinery prepared birds of paradise skins in a Clothing and Textiles Collection affect our understanding the entwined relationships between humans and animals?

2. What relationships, practices and geographies brought about their movement from natural habitats in New Guinea, making into millinery ornaments and presence in a clothing and textiles collection in Western Canada?

Click here to download the pdf.
Patchett, M. Foster, K. and Lorimer H. (2011) ‘The ‘Biogeographies’ of a Hollowed-Eyed Harrier’, in Alberti, S. (ed) The Afterlives of Animals: A Museum Menagerie, Virginia: University of Virginia Press.
Patchett, M. and Foster, K. (2008) ‘Repair Work: Surfacing the Geographies of Dead Animals‘, Museum and Society 6(2), 98-122. (Invited paper forming part of special issue ‘Constructing Nature Behind Glass’)
Foster, K. Lorimer, H. and Patchett, M. (2006) The Blue Antelope Correspondences – – a website documenting collaborative work by Kate Foster, Merle Patchett and Hayden Lorimer that generates wider interest in an overlooked, but very rare, skull of an extinct animal – the Blue Antelope. The extremely scarce remnants of this animal are all in Northern European museums, brought from the Cape of South Africa by colonial trade and pioneers of western science. Killed out by 1800, this animal is seemingly little known in South Africa. Its ‘afterlife’ is very much concentrated in western scientific annals. Our project is to enliven and broaden such a narrow perspective of its ‘value’ by asking:  “By which world should the Blue Antelope be known? By what territorial arrangement should we place it? And according to whose voice, language and values?”

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