Geographer as Curator

The projects outlined below were the outcomes of collaborative process-orientated curatorial-work in diverse spatial settings: from university collections and museums, to art galleries and the built environment. All of these projects explore what working with a geographical imagination can bring to the production of installations and exhibitions and in turn highlight the potential of the exhibition as a geographical research output.

Strip Appeal: An International Design Competition to Reinvent the Strip Mall, Curator (2011)

Initiated by the City-Region Studies Centre, University of Alberta, Strip Appeal is an ideas design competition intended to stimulate creative design proposals for the adaptive reuse of small-scale strip-malls (or mini-malls). 

We ask: how might the small-scale strip be reinvented and redeveloped to local advantage? With creative thinking and design experimentation, we believe there are many ways to transform these ever-present yet ailing built forms to promote walkability, sustainability and community as suburban experience. 

The winning and shortlisted submissions will form a travelling exhibit, with accompanying bookwork, that will architecture/design schools and galleries across North America

Touring Exhibition Schedule:

8 Nov 2011- 18 Feb 2012 – Atrium Gallery, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

17 Nov 6 2012 –  17 Mar 2013 – UB Anderson Gallery, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA.

28 March – ongoing 2013 – The Kasian Gallery, University of Calgary, Canada.


You can buy the accompanying bookwork from amazon.

For more info and to download a competition brief visit the Strip Appeal website

Remotely Sensing Cape Farewell, Creator

Audio-visual installation, RGS-IBG Annual Conference, Royal Geographical Society, London Sept 2011

RGS-IBG Online Gallery Display

Fashioning Feathers: Dead Birds, Millinery Crafts and the Plumage Trade, Project Lead/Co-Curator (May 2011)

May 17th-June 11th 2011 FAB Galley, University of Alberta, Edmonton

Feathers fascinate, feathers are fetishized, feathers are very much back in fashion. This exhibition takes us back to a time when the wings, bodies and heads of birds were used to adorn hats.

Fashioning Feathers… defetishizes such ‘feather fashions’ by revealing the complex geographies of collection, production and consumption behind their making. From the hunting and killing of birds in their natural habitats, to their processing in metropolitan plumage sweatshops and crafting by professional and amateur milliners, to their becoming adornments on the heads of women in Europe and North America. With all these human designs on bird feathers Fashioning Feathers… enlists the the artwork of certain contemporary artists to help engage our curiosity to wonder at how birds use their feathers – and what we do to birds in the process of fashioning them.

Now open at the Royal Alberta Museum March 2012 – Jan 2013

Terrible Karma: reverberations of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

created and curated by Adeola Enigbokan and Merle Patchett

Terrible Karma is a mobile sound and photographic installation exploring the transnational reverberations of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, on its 100th anniversary. Terrible Karma works from the premise that ‘sound is haunting… a presence whose location in space is ambiguous and whose existence in time is transitory’ (David Toop), meshing oral histories of Triangle fire survivors with audio recordings of mega-scale garment factories in Qingyuan, China and protest songs of present-day garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia to bring out the contemporary and transnational resonances of the Triangle fire.

The work ‘takes to the streets’ on March 25th, 2011 when the sound and photographs will be projected out of a van driven through the streets of New York, stopping at various points to allow passers-by to experience the work from inside the claustrophobic confines of the van. The audio work will also be available to download on an accompanying website so that the work can be experienced outside New York. Terrible Karma presents spaces and times as folded, allowing distant presences, events, and people to become more intimate and the contemporary resonances of the Triangle Fire to reverberate.

The plumage bill: feathers and femininity, Curator (May 2009)

Count Raggi’s Bird © Kate Foster

This exhibit took as it starting point an artwork by the artist Kate FosterCount Raggi’s Bird – a bookwork created after Foster acquired a box marked ‘feathers’ containing the feathers and head of a bird of paradise, Paradisea Raggiana, which would have once adorned the hat of a fashionable and wealthy Victorian woman. The bookwork and box containing the feathers were exhibited alongside archival photographs of women working in plumage ‘sweatshops’ and Virginia Woolf’s provocative essay The Plumage Bill in order to expose and explore some of the gender contradictions and class tensions associated with the trade and production of bird skins and feathers for millinery purposes.

Out of Time: an exhibition inspired by the arts of taxidermy, Co-curator (May/June 2007)

Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

Out of Time was a practical outcome of different inter-disciplinary investigations into the ways that zoological collections can be reactivated. A collective of exhibitors teased out particular aspects of a specimen’s object history and entanglements with human activity, present and past. Being familiar with the museum, exhibitors used the institutional setting strategically, making juxtapositions and exposing tensions between states of life and death, nature and culture, the artificial and the real. Work was presented by artists Kate Foster (lead curator), Andrea Roe and Jethro Brice and geographers Merle Patchett and Hayden Lorimer.

Click for Video

Blue Antelope, Co-curator/ researcher (Aug-Nov 2006 – ongoing)

Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

Image © Vienna Natural History Museum / Kate Foster

Blue Antelope is an art-geography collaboration which charts 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 (project lead/artist), Hayden Lorimer (geographer) and Merle Patchett (geographer), in association with Maggie Reilly of the Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow.

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