PhD project: From ‘wretched savages’ to the world's  ‘most beautiful’ artefacts: British ethnographic  collections from Western Australia


Welcome to new CTW PhD candidate, Nicola Froggatt. 
(Royal Holloway, University of London & the British Museum)
Supervisor Gaye Sculthorpe, British Museum.

My project explores the history of Indigenous Australian material culture now in the British Museum and other UK collections. My focus is on the ways in which artefacts from Western Australia were collected by visitors and settlers in the region, and then made their way to the UK. By analysing these cross-cultural journeys, I hope to show how these items have helped to shape colonial and postcolonial ideas about value, place and identity.

Over the course of the project I will examine the different kinds of objects that were collected and sent to the UK. I will also conduct research into their makers (where known), their collectors, the range of objects collected and the methods of collection. By shedding further light on these processes, I hope to help increase our understanding of how and why collectors engaged with Indigenous Australians and their material culture.


Carved baobab nut (nineteenth century)  © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Carved baobab nut (nineteenth century) 
© The Trustees of the British Museum.