Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Creative Arts


This work is an exploration of the nature and sources of the imagery, or visual form and decoration, of selected artefacts which, for the most part, do not fall into the accepted categories of conventionally so-called "fine art". There appears to have been little discourse in this enormous, universal and varied field of creative and visionary human activity, that might have focussed upon it as a unique and an autonomous oeuvre which has developed for its own particular reasons. This thesis sets out to open up questions, issues and argument, with the aim of increasing interest, understanding and appreciation of one of humankind's oldest activities, the making of artefacts. The artefacts mainly studied here are those of ancient cultures, because they do not suffer the problems of confusion which modem instantaneous and mass communication of ideas, pressures and influences places upon the artefact. Other selected discourse on human thought and activity is brought into the study where it is thought to be relevant and of use in pursuing the aim of the work. Part I consists of explanatory introduction. Part II sets out to question, argue and discuss issues and qualities that are common to many artefacts and their imagery. The role, also, of the individual craftworker is considered in relation to the development of the whole image of the artefact, that is, its decoration and its form. Part in takes specific examples of imagery and applies to them some of the arguments in Part II. Part IV discusses briefly some Australian artefacts (so-called crafts or decorative arts) of the twentieth century in terms of the arguments in Parts II and III. Specific examples of ceramic artefacts made by the author of this thesis are also used to test and enquire further into the issue of diffusion and local invention, especially as it may be applied to Australian artefacts. This study aims only to open up speculation and investigation in this vast area of universal human activity, and into its nature and sources. It is envisaged that the following argument and discourse may lead others to continue and extend the exploration of this fascinating and integral area of human creative achievement.