Jane Wildgoose

Research Group: Modern Interiors Research Centre
Award studied: PhD

Project title

Collecting and Interpreting Human Skulls and Hair in late 19th Century London: Passing Fables and Comparative Readings at The Wildgoose Memorial Library


Jane Wildgoose is an artist, researcher and broadcaster with a background in design and making for stage and film. An experienced lecturer and artists' mentor, she is interested in the interplay between research and practice, and the role that artists and makers may play as producers of knowledge and interpreters of history. Jane co-led the Material Thinking and Creative Practice module of the MA Museum & Galleries Studies course with Dr. Duncan Grewcock at Kingston University in 2011; she was Keyholder of the Cabinet of Artists attached to the Strandlines collaborative project at King's College London during 2011-2012, and a Visiting Artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013.

Jane's practice centres on collecting, and collaborations with museums and historical collections in the UK and USA; she has exhibited at Sir John Soane's Museum in London and Yale Center for British Art in America, and she is currently developing a solo exhibition commissioned by Waddesdon Manor (Rothschild Collection/National Trust) for 2015. As a researcher and consultant her clients have included the Wellcome Library and the Natural History Museum. She has published articles and reviews in the national and specialist press, including The Independent, New Statesman, and The Lancet, as well as exhibition catalogues and essays, including "Considering the Evidence" in The Textile Reader (Hemmings, Berg, 2012), and artists' books including "A Visit to the Archives" in Strong Room (Bakker & Wildgoose, Negative Press, 2014).

Since 2003 Jane has developed a performative role as Keeper of her own collection, The Wildgoose Memorial Library (WML), which is dedicated to memory and remembrance. The subject of a NESTA Fellowship in 2005-06, the WML has featured in programmes for BBC Radio (A Tale of Two Skulls, R3 2008; On One Lost Hair, R4 2005) and continues to take a central place in her practice. Her doctoral research examines historical precedents for the "unique status" ascribed to human remains in museums, and the role of the artist working with "difficult" institutional histories and colonial legacy. She exhibited site-specific work in progress at West Norwood Cemetery in 2013, and presented her practice-based research findings in a solo exhibition at the Crypt Gallery St Pancras in 2014. Her chapter "Collecting Human Skulls and Hair: In Pursuit of Wonder in Death's Chambers" is scheduled for publication in Wonder in Contemporary Artistic Practice (Brown & Mieves, Routledge, forthcoming 2015).

Jane was a Museumaker (Arts Council/MLA funded) selected maker in 2010. She received two Arts Council Year of the Artist Awards to work with collections and collecting, with visual artists Mary Hooper and Sally Hampson in 2000. She was awarded a Wellcome Sciart Research & Development Award with Dr. Peter Isaacs and Philip Parr in 2001, and they received an Arts Council Touring Project Award to develop their work as a UK performance tour in 2003; the project is featured in "Viewing the Instruments" in Experiment: Conversations in Art and Science (Arends & Thackara, Wellcome Trust, 2003).

Related link


Cambridge University, 2013
CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities), The Duchess Threatens to Produce Me Among the Antiquities, Things Early Modern Material Culture Seminar Series

Newcastle University, 2013
Wonderful and Marvellous Art Thou In All Thy Works (Keynote Speaker), Working Wonder Conference

Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, 2012
An Excess of Delicate Feeling, a Susceptibility to Painful Regret, Medicine and Mortality, Communication, Ethics and Arts: Imperial College 5th Annual Foundations of Clinical Practice Conference

University of York, 2011
The Dear Precious Relics and Hair, Materials of Mourning: Death, Materiality and Memory in Victorian Britain Conference

Funding received

The Rothschild Foundation, Waddesdon Manor, Research/travel sponsorship

Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture PhD Studentship

Musuemaker Selected Maker
Arts Council/MLA Renaissance

NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology & the Arts)
Dream Time Fellowship

Arts Council Touring Project Award
with Dr Peter Isaacs & Philip Parr

Arts Council 'Year of the Artist' Award
with Mary Hooper

Arts Council 'Year of the Artist' Award
with Sally Hampson

Wellcome Sciart Research & Development Award
with Dr Peter Isaacs & Philip Parr

Jane Wildgoose, 2014. Passing Fable & Comparative Reading No. VII