Birds of Paradise Close Up

Specimen Artefact as Object-Based Archive Caitlin DeSilvey has observed that the ‘the disarticulation of a cultural artefact [can] lead to the articulation of other histories and geographies’ in the present (2006: 329) and, similarly, Tim Edensor argues that the physical destruction of objects ‘reveals the artifice through which they are structured to withstand ambiguity’ (Edensor … Continue reading


Artefact as Archive: Evidence of ‘Willowing’ on Ostrich Plume

Artefact as Archive A recent vein of creative historical research has reconsidered ‘the limits and location of any set of materials determined as “archive”’ (Lorimer 2009). Within this body of work, researchers have highlighted that material encounters and material entities can be rich resources for historical recovery (Kurtz 2001; Till 2001; DeSilvey 2006, 2007b; Featherstone … Continue reading

Photographic Study of Three Millinery Prepared Parrots

A closer look at the three dyed-black millinery prepared parrot specimens in the University of Alberta Clothing and Textiles Collection. “Much has been written on the hollowness of souvenirs, their intrinsic sadness and the ultimate futility of collecting things in an effort to remember places and events. Perhaps none is more poignant than that which … Continue reading

Study of “Hat with Bird”

‘… as practices lose their place in a historical form of life, they may leave abandoned wreckage behind them which can then take on new life, generating new hybrids or simply leavings which still have resonance. Take the example of things. These may have been vital parts of particular networks of practice, only to fall … Continue reading

Plumes that Pay

A poem from the Sorrowful Rhymes of Working Children How doth the manufacturer Improve the ostrich tail? By willowing the scraggy ends Until they’re fit for sale. How cheerfully he sits and smiles Throughout the livelong day, While children knot the tiny flues And make the plumes that pay. ‘Willowing’ consists of lengthening the short … Continue reading