La Trobe
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The art of making do: an investigation into women artists and the representation of the domestic environment

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posted on 2023-01-18, 17:49 authored by Tegan Wheeldon
Submission note: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Visual Arts by Research to the School of Communication, Arts and Critical Enquiry, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

This research project is comprised of two parts: a studio based investigation, resulting in a presentation of the art practice, and a discussion of the themes, intentions and practical outcomes within a written exegesis. In this manner the art practice shapes a response to the theoretical research and also provides new avenues of investigation and discussion within the scope of the research topic. This research project investigates a paradoxical and long lasting association between women and their domestic environment. Furthermore, it seeks to discover how women artists have used household paraphernalia and the ‘art of making do’ to represent their relationship with the private sphere of the “home”. In my art practice, materials are recycled, recreated and reinvented in a manner that implies ‘making do’. Moreover, salvaged domestic objects are used to explore the memories, relationships and experiences that occur and exist within the domestic environment. The abiding relationship between women and the art of needlework is also investigated. The traditional branding of the domestic environment as “a woman’s place”, and the classification of needlework as “women’s work” and a hiddenstream art practice, are key points of discussion. In the art practice, the traditional relationship between women, needlework and the domestic environment, is researched via the sampler and the ‘glory box’. The research uses the ‘glory box’ as a symbol, and as a metaphor, for a woman’s diverse and often challenging relationship with her domestic environment. Finally, the domestic environment is explored as a site of memory and meaning, focusing specifically on the representation of subjective experiences and relationships. Studio investigations into the metaphorical use of stitching as a healing/mending process are explored through the reconstruction and transformation of personal memories. The research concludes with a discussion about the recent discovery of and integration of my own childhood drawings and writings into the art practice.


Center or Department

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. School of Communication, Arts and Critical Enquiry.

Thesis type

  • Masters

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


Rights Statement

This thesis contained third party copyright material which has been removed. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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