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Personal profile

Research interests


Louise Purbrick’s current research examines how the past remains present in its material forms. She has a longstanding interest in the Long Kesh/Maze prison site, the now empty ‘icon’ of ‘The Troubles’ located ten miles south of Belfast, and has spent many years documenting the transformations of its cell units, the H Blocks. Her recent work as part of the Traces of Nitrate project, an interpretation of the abandoned architecture of mining in Atacama Desert in northern Chile and the legacies of the nitrate trade in Britain, is in publication.

Louise completed her D.Phil in Art History at the University of Sussex in 1993 and has since published much of her study of the industrial and material culture of the Great Exhibition of 1851 in articles and edited collections. Her exploration of the power of objects began with the fascination for the Crystal Palace but has since extended to museum practices and the material culture of everyday life. In The Wedding Present (2007, 2014), a contemporary analysis of the gift, she detailed the acts of preservation that constitute domestic domains and argued that consumption was not an adequate framework through which to view everyday life. Broadly, then, Louise is concerned with the entanglements between people and things, with human and material relationships.

Alongside research and writing, Louise works as a curator and maker. She is a member of the Re-making Picasso’s Guernica Collective and has worked with Healing Through Remembering on exhibition projects. In 2010, Brighton Museum and Art Galleries accessioned the collection from which she curated Rattling the Cage (2009), a community archive of documents, textiles, photography and film used in a campaign to free a Guantánamo detainee. Most recently, she worked with the Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP) on Art, Refuge and Resistance, an exhibition of documents and designs about the current conditions of refugees.

Supervisory Interests

Louise Purbrick is interested in developing postgraduate research in the following areas: the materiality of everyday life, the material legacies of conflict and capitalist exploitation, art and political activism, documentary photography, exhibition and museum practices.


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