University of Tasmania
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Art form - artefact : a theoretical evaluation of the textile medium, its history and current use in Australian art and culture

posted on 2023-05-27, 15:29 authored by Wright, BE
My thesis explores the role of textile both as a medium in contemporary art practice and, historically, as an Australian social and cultural artefact. I argue that textile is intimately associated with the creation and maintenance of identity. As such, textile may be theorised as a technique of power within our social and political system. The thesis proposes a theory of power, based upon the theories of social scientist, Kenneth Boulding, and philosopher, Michel Foucault. A notion of power that is integrative, that inspires complicity on the basis of a common and ultimately rewarding identity, provides a fruitful context for the consideration of textile, a medium associated with both public and private spaces. I examine the uses of textile in social, religious, political and ceremonial systems (flags, banners, religious vestments and military regalia) as well as evaluating its traditionally recognised place as a domestic artefact. Within contemporary art practice and theory, identity is a current issue. To a considerable extent this is a result of feminist theory and philosophy, which is firmly rooted in an analysis of contemporary society and the construction of identity within it. I explore the impact of feminist theory and its interaction with the textile arts, especially during the final quarter of the twentieth century. I consider in some depth the concept of space and place and its division into areas designated as public and private, as these ideas impact profoundly upon the issue of identity. I examine the history of textile practice in Australia, by considering museum collections as well as historical examples of work made by embroiderers and lace makers, textile designers and makers of ceremonial and religious textile pieces. I consider its use as a cultural and political voice through banners, as used, for instance, by trade unions. Following on from this, I look at the inspirations of Australian textile artists and survey the effect of art galleries and their collecting policies on contemporary Australian textile art practice. The art/craft debate is revisited before examining the history and role of the Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial. The Biennial is discussed in tandem with an analysis of artist responses received to a questionnaire that I designed specifically for use in this thesis. Current developments in the Biennial and the questionnaire data are used as the barometer of Australian contemporary textile art development. In summary, the thesis addresses the historical association of textile with issues of identity and power, and considers the ways in which contemporary artists work with the textile medium in the light of such associations.


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Copyright 2003 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis ( M.F.A.)--University of Tasmania, 2003. Includes bibliographical references

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