After studying BA History of Fine & Decorative Art and MA Country House Studies at University of Leeds, I completed my PhD research, investigating the Emergence of the Antique and Curiosity Dealer in the first half of the 19th century, at the University of Southampton. I was formerly Lecturer in Museum and Heritage Studies at the University of Salford, where I was Programme Director for the MA Museum & Heritage Studies, before taking up my current appointment at the University of Leeds.
My research interests are focused on the history and theory of museums and the history of the art market and histories of collecting, especially in relation to the agency of the antique and curiosity dealer in the 19th and 20th centuries. My research has mapped the emergence of the antique and curiosity dealer during the opening decades of the 19th century, a project that placed the functions and practices of the dealer against a broader cultural framework, incorporating the commodification of historical objects and the emergence of a distinctive historical consciousness in the period.
I am particularly interested in exploring the relationships between a discourse (art history) and elements of its formation (the art market); for example, I am working at present on the relationships between the market for ‘antique furniture’ and evolving discourse of furniture history in the 19th and 20th centuries and an investigation into the cultural biography of the art and antique dealer.
In relation to museums, I am interested in philosophies of history and the meaning of ‘heritage’, and in particular the relationships between contemporary heritage practices and their roles in the construction of the meanings of the past. I am also working on a number of projects in relation to museum studies that address the interface between theory and practice and how this dialectic can be negotiated in the contemporary museum.