I am Reader in Museum Anthropology and Material Culture at the University of Queensland, Australia, where I direct the Museum Studies Masters Program. From 2009-2017 I was the Director of the UQ Anthropology Museum. I have curated or co-curated 17 exhibitions. My current research foci are the anthropology of design in everyday settings, and ethnographic museum ecologies.
My fieldwork is since 1996 based in the Australian Western Desert, and more recently in museum collections through the process of exhibition curation. I have published on a variety of topics including the anthropology of colours, art, design, the art market, cultural brokers, consumption, historical anthropology, ecology, and a number of exhibition catalogues. The most recent of these include Solomon Islands: Re-enchantment and the Colonial Shadow 2017 and the architectural works of James Turrell, 2019. My recent publications on colour include the book; Rematerializing Colour; from concept to Substance 2018, Sean Kingston, and ‘In the red; materials and substances in the Australian Western Desert’ 2020 JRAI.
As Director I created a new research infrastructure for the UQ Anthropology Museum and grew its audience participation. An on-line catalogue, a public exhibition program based on the museum’s collection, redesign of the gallery and collection store, and an acquisition policy collecting works by named women makers to redress the gender balance in the collection were elements of the infrastructure.
Prior to becoming an anthropologist I trained as an architect and worked in the UK construction industry designing and managing building projects. My post-graduate training at University College London as a member of the material culture group was followed by post-doctoral positions at UCL and at the Australian National University.