Thumbnail Image

Transformations: Anthropology, Art and the Quilt

Drawing on both anthropological and quilt literature, this thesis shows the many different ways that made objects are thought about by different groups of people. Awareness of these differences permits a new perspective of 'Western' art and object making. This awareness allows a space in which to consider the importance of the process of making. Quiltmaking provides an interesting case study. This thesis therefore describes the field of quiltmaking activity that exists in New Zealand at the present time. This genre, as it is practised today, had its beginnings in the revival that began in this country during the 1970's. This study will show that the main impetus of this revival did not draw on known traditions in New Zealand, but rather on a largely imported tradition that had developed in the United States of America. Ideas about the status of quilts as art objects, comes from a mixture of influences. The tradition of quiltmaking in the United States was already a strong one and had been through a number of revivals. Aspects of this traditional culture influenced quiltmakers in New Zealand. Simultaneously, there was an equally strong sense of the quilt as an art object in New Zealand. However, art entrepreneurs in the United States certainly were part of the transformation of the quilt into an art object in that country. Their strategies of discourse and display drew on contemporary artworld ideologies and ultimately this valuation affected which quilts could be seen as 'art' in New Zealand. Through the use of participant observation, interviews and a questionnaire, the content of this study will show the many different ways that New Zealand quiltmakers work, their aims and goals for the quilts they make, and the ways these quilts are perceived by other quilters and the wider public. Some areas that have resulted in conflict and misunderstandings are discussed. As in any such group, conflicts and misunderstandings arise from the existence of different ways of valuing aspects of cultural activities. NB Unlike the hard copy of this thesis the colour plates in this electronic version are placed together between the chapters and the appendices.
Type of thesis
Wanigasekera, G. D. (2006). Transformations: Anthropology, Art and the Quilt (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2486
The University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.