A Cultural-Historical Geographer by training (MA, MRes, PhD), my research broadly focuses on relations between people and the material world and the ways in which these relations are imagined and practiced in the conduct of science, art and architecture and everyday life.
I can categorise my research interests into four main areas:
1. Embodiment, Craft and Human-Nonhuman Relations
My AHRC funded doctoral research - Putting Animals on Display: Geographies of Taxidermy Practice (2010) - critically examined the craft worlds and knowledge-practices of taxidermists, past and present, and their material culture of animal remains. The research drew on creative tensions between non-representational theory and historical geographies of science and thus required the development of innovative methodological procedures. This included a video-ethnography of a practicing taxidermist (Patchett 2014) and the use of specimen-artefacts as object-based archives (Patchett 2008).
2. Cultures of Preservation and Practices of Post-Natural History Display
Part of the goal of my PhD research was to reassert the value of taxidermy specimens and collections through collaborative exchange with museum practitioners and contemporary artists. These exchages resulted in the creation of online exhibits exploring the ‘afterlives’ of individual specimens (e.g. Blue Antelope 2006), the staging of artistic interventions in zoological collections (e.g. Out of Time 2007) and the co-curation of exhibitions exploring the cultural resonances of taxidermy collections (e.g. Fashioning Feathers 2011/12). The exhibitions and inteventions were the practical outcomes of art-geography investigations into how public interest in zoological collections can be reactivated (see Patchett and Foster 2008, Patchett 2012).
3. Experimental Geographies in Practice
Since completing my PhD I have been exploring the correspondences between geographic research methods and creative and artistic practices (see for example Enigbokan and Patchett 2012 and Patchett and Lozowy 2012). Part of this exploration has included setting up and running my blog Experimental Geography in Practice and producing collaborative artistic works, such as the audio-visual installation Terrible Karma: Reverberations of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire with Adeola Enigbokan (see Enigbokan and Patchett 2012) and the Archivinbg Oil with contemporary artist Neville Gabie (see Gabie and Patchett 2013)
4. Architecture, Aesthetics and Experimental Suburbanisms
On completing my PhD I became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta's City-Region Studies Centre. As a postdoc toral fellow with the CRSC, I was responsible for investigating the re-development of suburban retail spaces as part of part of Rob Shields’ SSHRC-funded project “Reimagining the Mini-Mall.” As part of this work I conceived and curated Strip Appeal, an ideas design competition and travelling exhibit intended to stimulate and showcase creative design proposals for the adaptive reuse of small-scale strip-malls (www.strip-appeal.com). Open-to-all, the competition was intent on democratizing the design process and reflects on the relationships between design activism and the construction of democratic urban experiments.
The competition received over 100 submissions from 11 different counties and as well as the tour the bookwork - Strip Appeal: Reinventing the Strip Mall (co-edited by Merle Patchett and Rob Shields) - documents the outcomes of the competition and research.
View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system
Dr Patchett currently teaches 2 courses:
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