Yesterday I was standing amongst a coffee-cup clutching crowd in a meeting room foyer at Manchester Museum when a technician came around the corner wheeling a trolley on which sat a fox. A stuffed fox. Which stared glassy-eyed at the throng. The technician decided that pushing his cargo through the crowd might be a wrong move, and turned tail (yes, I know!).

I was at “Researching Material Culture”, a Morgan Centre Interdisciplinary Dialogue event. I’d already had a brief encounter with Rachel Hurdley, from Cardiff University, who I greeted as “the mantelpiece lady!” I’d previously discovered her work through her paper Dismantling mantelpieces: narrating identities and materializing culture in the home, because of course the objects I research were and are often displayed above the hearth. She gave a lively and energising presentation on “…the craft(iness) of organising materials” which she began by (re)organising us, her loth-to-be-organised audience!

There were also encounters with a fellow PhD student, one of my supervisors, a member of staff who admitted possessing a cupboard-full of bric-a-brac (which I was invited to investigate – yes!) and a couple of people who I’d met just a few days ago at the CHAT conference in York.

So it was natural that I should receive a flyer in the event delegate pack inviting me to a conference next July entitled…Encounters! The call for papers includes “Material encounters.”  I think I might have a go!