Links and References

Alternative Ornithologies: Special Issue of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture

Antennae Issue 20

Alternative Ornithologies is a special issue of Antennae: the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture I guested-edited to co-inside with the opening of Fashioning Feathers at the Royal Alberta Museum. The first two papers discuss the theoretical framing and curation of the fashioning feathers exhibition.

Editor’s Forward

The 20th issue of Antennae is a rather special one from a number of reasons. First of all it marks the first five years of Antennae’s activity, and what five years these have been for animals and art! Second, this issue is a co-edited effort dedicated to art, plumage and birds. Merle Patchett has developed an international reputation based on her contribution to the subject of animal surfaces and geography. Curating the exhibition Fashioning Feathers provided the perfect platform to gather a unique army of artists and academics with a soft spot for the subject. Amanda Boetzekes, Kate Foster, Liz Gomez, Kirsteen Greer, Hayden Lorimer, Kate MccGwire, Marine Pacault, Rachel Poliquin, Perdita Phillips, Andrea Roe and Maria Whiteman have with their contributions, made this issue truly special.

It was also very important for Antennae to mark its fifth birthday with modesty, without unnecessary trumpeting and with an issue that represented the values of inclusion, diversity and commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration that has made it such a popular read with so many people around the world. Thanks to all whom have contributed to the making of each issue thus far. Thanks to the Academic and Advisory Boards, the Network of Global Contributors and those who actively promote the journal around the world. Ultimately, thanks to those who read it,find inspiration and information in it for their work, and use it in their artworks, research or teaching

Alternative Ornithologies
Merle Patchett – Alternative Ornithologies – On Necro-Ornithology, Monstrosity and Botched Birds / Merle Patchett, Kate Foster, Liz Gomez and Andrea Roe – Ruffling Feathers: Exhibiting the Monstrous Geographies of the Plumage Trade / Kirsten Greer – Untangling the Avian Imperial Archive / Amanda Boetzekes and Maria Whiteman – Bird Thanatology / Rachael Poliquin interview with Kate MccGwire – When Feathers Come to Life / Hayden Lorimer – Songs from Before / Liz Gomez – Natural History of Haptic Images / Kate Foster and Hayden Lorimer – Disposition: a Hollow-eyed Harrier, Displaced and Out of Time / Andrea Roe – Revisiting Wonder

Download PDF:

Works referred to in Fashioning Feathers…


Abbott, R. (1995) ‘Birds Don’t Sing in Greek: Virginia Woolf and “The Plumage Bill”‘, in C. J. Adams and J. Donovan’s (eds) Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations.  Duke University Press.

Belon, P. L. (1555) Histoire de la nature des oyseaux. Paris, 1555.

Darwin, C. (1871) The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (first edition, London: John Murray: 1871).

Doughty, R. W. (1975) Feather Fashions and Bird Preservation: a Study in Nature Protection. University of California Press.

Hornaday, W. T. (1913) Our Vanishing Wildlife: Its Extermination and Preservation. e-book available

Kirsch, S. (2008) ‘History and the Birds of Paradise: Surprising Connections from New Guinea’, Expedition,  48:1, 15-21.

Moore-Colyer, R. J. (2000) ‘Feathered Women and Persecuted Birds; The Struggle Against the Plumage Trade c. 1860-1922′, Rural History, 11/1, pp. 57-73.

Pigafetta, A. (1524) “Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo” (Report on the First Voyage Around the World). Paris, 1524-1534.

Saldanha, A. (2010) ‘Two Birds of Paradise in North Holland, 1592: The Gift in the Exotic’, Parallax, 2010, vol. 16, no. 1, 68–79.

Stein, S. (2008) Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce. Yale University Press.

Framing and Related work by the Artists and Curators

Writings and Creative Works:

Foster, K. (2002) The Biography of a Lie. Original artist’s statement and exhibition text . 

Foster, K. (2003) Count Raggi’s BirdArtist bookwork: Trajectory (linked pdf = text-only file).

Foster, K (2008) BioGeoGraphies. Video podcast of presentation to RANE (Research in Art, Nature and Environment) Research Group. 

Foster, K. and Lorimer, H. (2007) ‘Cultural geographies in practice: Some reflections on art-geography as collaboration‘. Cultural Geographies 14(3): 425-432.

Foster, K and Lorimer, H. (2006)Blue Antelope: a photo-essaySeeing is Believing seminar series hosted by Visual Arts Research Institute, University of Edinburgh February 2006.

Foster, K. and Patchett, M. (2011) Stuffed Bird Attached. Collaborative bookwork produced for Fashioning Feathers

Patchett, M. (2007) ‘Animal as Object: Taxidermy and the Charting of Afterlives‘ – curatorial essay accompanying the Blue Antelope exhibit and website,

Patchett, M. (2008) ‘Tracking Tigers: Recovering the Embodied Practices of TaxidermyHistorical Geography 36, 17-39. (Invited paper forming part of special issue Historical Geographies of Embodied Practice)

Patchett, M. (2010) Putting Animals on Display: Geographies of Taxidermy PracticeUniversity of Glasgow: Enlighten (Supervised by Dr Hayden Lorimer and Prof. Chris Philo, Examined by Prof. Nigel Thrift and Dr David Featherstone).

Patchett, M. and Foster, K. (2007) The Lively Geographies of Dead Animals a poster for “Nature Behind Glass, a conference at the University of Manchester, 2007. (Awarded first prize from the Museums Association.)

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 issueConstructing Nature Behind Glass’)

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.

Roe, A. (2008)Multimedia taxidermy: Andrea Roe in interview with Eric Frank’, Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, 6, 44-50.

Roe, A. (2010)Nature Calls: Andrea Roe in interview with Rikke Hansen‘, Nature Calls: Animals in Visual Culture Resonance fm, London Arts Radio (May 2010).

Websites and online-resources:

Blue Antelope Correspondences 

Blue Antelope (Aug-Nov 2006, Hunterian Museum, Glasgow) was an art-geography collaboration that mapped the diverse lives of an extinct antelope from the starting point of a rare skull of the animal held in the Hunterian collection. The resulting exhibition, seminar and website brought together work by Kate Foster, Hayden Lorimer and Merle Patchett, in association with Maggie Reilly of the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow.

  • The exhibition took place from 21 August-24 November 2006, at the Hunterian Zoological Museum, University of Glasgow.
  • The accompanying seminar Making Animal Afterlives: a seminar bringing together work by artists and geographers using zoological collections, took place at the museum on November 22nd 2006.
  • The website brings together collaborative work on the Blue Antelope and recasts it in other contexts. This is the most comprehensive source of information available about the animal, and is available to those who cannot actually see the skull (the skull is presently on display in the newly refurbished Hunterian).
  • The project team is currently working on the publication of Blue Antelope Correspondences – a book that will recreate the bluebuck as a charismatic and elusive creature and as a biogeographical redistribution of matter and meanings, working through drawings (old and new), photographed artifacts, essays, creative fiction and non-fiction.

Other Artist’s Investigating Avian Lives

1. Perdita Phillips is an Australian artist with a wide-ranging and experimental conceptual practice. Referencing different schema of natural history representation her work highlights the uneasy relationships between factual texts and fictions that are at the heart of art-science investigations. Biological systems are presented and then undermined with unlikely annotations, interpositions and decompositions. She has worked with minerals, landscapes, termites and bowerbirds at the intersections of human and nonhuman worlds; conversing with animals and contrasting the wanton wildness inside us with the wilderness of post-industrial life. Perdita’s documentary photographs of bowerbird banding compellingly demonstrates this tension at work.

Example of bowerbird nuchal crest. Photo © Perdita Phillips. Photograph taken at Broom Bird Observatory during a bird-banding project.

A bowerbird just before being released after banding by Class A birdbander Naoko Takeuchi (photo taken at Broome Bird Observatory). Photograph © Perdita Phillips

2. Kate MccGwire creates installations with feathers. These works are incredibly compelling and enticing, with their soft lustre and intricate construction, but they simultaneously disturb and repel, as the feathers pour, twist and flood spaces en masse.

Sluice, 2009. Photo: Francis Ware. Image © Kate MccGwire

Sluice, 2009. Photo: Francis Ware. Image © Kate MccGwire

3. Sanna Kannisto is a photographer who has positioned her work within the field study process of scientific research being undertaken in the South American Rain Forests.  Her photography both acknowledges the role of the visual in scientific research and also exposes the structures and processes behind, for instance, the presentation of specimens on white backgrounds. Her series of photographs capturing the movement of humming birds is particularly affective.

Image © Sanna Kannisto 2010

4. Chris Landau: author of “The Flocking Partyan online story with art, animations and audio of birds. Landau’s process has a strong basis in traditional visual media such as drawing, painting, and sculpture, but his continued attention lies at the new edge of media frontiers such as Web 2.0, interactive graphics, 3D modeling, physical computing, GPS, biotechnology, contemporary art, science fiction, and cognitive science. He takes a uniquely mixed approach towards old and new mediums and to the diversity of solutions that can be generated from dynamic networks of tools and ideas.

Image © Chris Landau

Image © Chris Landau. Page 32 of “The Flocking Party”

5. Myfanwy MacLeod: Vancouver artist Myfanwy MacLeod has always been interested in the ability of public art to convey political and historical meaning. The Birds, her new work for Southeast False Creek Olympic Plaza, sits on the last large tract of available waterfront near downtown Vancouver and has been shaped by this new community’s focus on sustainability. The work attempts to highlight both the lighter and graver sides of what can happen when a non-native species is introduced to an environment, how the beauty of birds can sometimes mask their threat to biodiversity.

Artist: Myfanwy MacLeod. Photo: Heavy Industries.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: