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  • Chinese wallpaper, global histories and material culture

WU, Anna, 2019, Thesis, Chinese wallpaper, global histories and material culture PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This thesis investigates Chinese wallpaper as global material culture. It goes beyond the traditional contexts of Europe, the eighteenth century country house and the ‘Chinese room’, in which Chinese wallpapers have historically been assessed, to examine how and why people have used Chinese wallpaper in a wider variety of temporal, cultural and spatial contexts. In so doing, it challenges a long tradition of Eurocentric approaches to Chinese wallpaper and Chinese export art more generally.
Developed collaboratively by European merchants and Chinese craftsmen for export markets in Europe in the late seventeenth century, Chinese wallpapers combined images, materials and techniques drawn from longstanding traditions of Chinese visual culture, with a western decorative format to create a hybrid object that was simultaneously Chinese and European. The continued production of Chinese wallpaper in China today and its application in diverse decorative contexts, ranging from period rooms to sleek contemporary design concepts provides evidence, not only of its continued appeal, but also its remarkable adaptability and cosmopolitan character.
The enduring presence and appeal of Chinese wallpapers in the global material landscape raises questions regarding how and why they are used in different geographical locations, cultural spaces and time periods and how they are understood in these diverse contexts. Using case studies in eighteenth-century
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Britain, twentieth-century North America and twenty-first century China this thesis constructs a global account of Chinese wallpaper, drawing out its diverse meanings and values and highlighting the global cultural connections that influenced their development and subsequent interpretation.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: Arts & Humanities Research Council
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2019 11:04
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2019 11:06
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/3939

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