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DR. JANE WILDGOOSE NESTA Fellow

KEEPER OF THE WILDGOOSE MEMORIAL LIBRARY

ARTIST, WRITER, BROADCASTER, CONSULTANT


'Jane Wildgoose, curator of the remarkable Wildgoose Memorial Library and a designer of memory theatres. Wildgoose had recently convened an Oxford conference on the business of the flesh, and had thus become fluent in both the poetics and the ethics of private body parts.'
  Gregory Whitehead, Cabinet

DR. JANE WILDGOOSE works across a wide range of disciplines exploring the values, narratives, and memories that become attached to remains of all kinds. Whether devising complex cabinets and installations combining hundreds of museum objects with specially devised handicrafts; researching, writing and designing a medical/musical performance based on a curious piece of Baroque music describing surgery to remove stones from the body; or co-devising a broadcast for BBC Radio examining a hair from the head of Horatio Nelson bought on eBay, Wildgoose's appraisals of the past are transported into the present with a strong appeal to the senses and the imagination, underpinned by detailed research and thorough knowledge of the history of collecting.

(See also Jane's Current events and Portraits, videos & online talks)

As Keeper of her own collection, The Wildgoose Memorial Library (WML), she presides over an ever-evolving "memory theatre", of evocative found and hand-crafted objects, documents, photographs and books, that takes a central place in her practice. Beyond the WML, Wildgoose works to commission with high-profile public and private collections in the UK and USA - eg Sir John Soane's Museum, London; the Yale Center for British Art and Yale University's collections of natural history and decorative arts [Promiscuous Assemblage, Friendship, & The Order of Things], the Portland Collection, Welbeck, and Waddesdon Manor (Rothschild Collections/National Trust) [Beyond All Price] - where her long experience of leading and participating in ambitious collaborative projects informs her close working relationships with curators and collections managers.

Wildgoose is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King's College London, and was Artist in Residence in association with Neil Jakeman, Senior Research Software Analyst in King's Digital Lab, during 2021.

She successfully completed a practice-based PhD in the School of Art & Design History at Kingston University in 2015 (supported by a PhD Studentship from the University) with a thesis entitled Collecting and Interpreting Human Skulls and Hair in Late Nineteenth Century London: "Passing Fables and Comparative Readings at The Wildgoose Memorial Library"; An artist's response to the DCMS "Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums" (2005): focusing on the histories of medical collecting, anthropology, and mourning in late Victorian London.

Wildgoose's abiding concern with the "social life" of things has led her to take an active part in debate about ethics concerning human remains in collections as a speaker at both art and science venues (including the ICA, the Royal College of Physicians, the Science Museum and the Paul Mellon Centre in London, and the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste in Dresden), and as co-convenor of the multidisciplinary conference The Business of the Flesh: Art, Science & Access to the Human Body bringing together artists, pathologists, medical collection curators, ethicists and legal experts, in association with Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, Oxford University.

She was commissioned as artist in residence/consultant by the Natural History Museum, London, to report on their human remains collections in light of changes to law relating to them following the introduction of the Human Tissue Act (2004), and when subsequently commissioned to write/present a Sunday Feature for BBC Radio 3, brought questions raised in her researches to the wider public by focusing on two human skulls in her own collection: examining the complex issues surrounding the possession, scientific analysis and public display of human remains [A Tale of Two Skulls].

Wildgoose's scholarly - though poetic - hunter-gatherer approach has brought her commissions to co-devise and present broadcasts for radio, write essays to accompany exhibitions, and publish articles/reviews in the academic, specialist, and national press. Recent publications include chapters in Post-Specimen Encounters Between Art, Science and Curating (Ed Juler & Alistair Robinson, ed., Intellect, 2021), and Wonder in Contemporary Artistic Practice (Christian Mieves & Irene Brown, ed., Routledge, 2016); she was co-editor of a special issue of the European Journal of Life Writing (Vol. 9, "Life Writing & Death: Dialogues of the Dead," 2020); recent articles include "Beyond All Price: Victorian Hair Jewelry, Commemoration and Story-Telling" in Fashion Theory (Vol. 22, 2018); "Strong Room: Material memories and the digital record" (with Roelof Bakker) in European Journal of Life Writing (Vol. 7, 2018), and "Ways of Making with Human Hair and Knowing How to 'Listen' to the Dead" in West 86th (Spring/Summer 2016), the Bard Graduate Center Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History & Material Culture published by University of Chicago Press.

She is a regular speaker at conferences and co-convened the conference Life Writing and Death: A day of explorations in association with the Centre for Life-Writing Research at King's College London in 2018. She also receives invitations as Keynote Speaker (Working Wonder conference, Newcastle University, 2013; Concept and Context in Practice conference, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, 2011). As a consultant her clients include the Strandlines project at King's College London, and the Wellcome Library.

Wildgoose is a NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology & the Arts) Dream Time Fellow, and was a Museumaker selected maker in 2010.

In 2001 Wildgoose received a Wellcome Sciart R&D Award as project co-ordinator and artist/researcher/writer, working in collaboration with a consultant gastroenterologist and an opera director; the project resulted in a medical/musical performance that toured the UK supported by an Arts Council Touring Project Award, and featured as a chapter in Experiment: Conversations in Art & Science (Wellcome Trust, 2003). Wildgoose was co-recipient of two Arts Council 'Year of the Artist' Awards in 2001.

Wildgoose is an experienced lecturer and tutor (including co-leader of the Material Thinking & Creative Practice Module, MA Museum & Galleries Studies at Kingston University in 2011) as well as a mentor to mid-career artists.

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Copyright Jane Wildgoose and The Wildgoose Memorial Library