The Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th century in England, inspired by William Morris, is well-known, but its presence in Australia has been largely overlooked. In this ground-breaking and scholarly study of the Australian Arts and Crafts Movement Dr Miley reveals a network of influences and practitioners in Victoria who were well-versed in the British and American movements, and who created a distinctively Australian expression of its principles. This included an emphasis on the use of native materials and flora and fauna, and building design adapted to Australian conditions, producing works of great charm and utility. It was dedicated to improving the quality and status of craft work and, as the architect Alan Walker urged, "the world at large should be taught that art may be looked for outside the space circumscribed by a gilt frame."
The book outlines the theory of the movement, its formation and leaders, its societies and publications, and examines the work produced by craftspeople in every medium, much described here for the first time. A chapter is devoted to the role of women, who were to the fore here as in Britain, and includes extensive analysis of the First Australian Exhibition Women's Work of 1907, regarded at the time as the first great national endeavour since Federation. Biographies of the leading exponents and a series of Appendices complete this valuable resource.