Nature as ornament in applied arts

From the mid-19th century, European pattern books offered instruction in decorative drawing and proposed arrangements of form and colour to be used in applying ornament.

Pattern books included stylistic and decorative elements from different cultures and periods, becoming vital sources for architects, designers and craftsmen.

Floral motifs, whether stylised, abstract or conventional, were widely reproduced in pattern books. Many theoretical publications of the Art Nouveau period (1890–1910) espoused decorative principles based on the study of plants, and gave instructions for applying patterns to objects according to the objects’ form and function.

One of the most popular Australian native flowers represented in ornament in early-20th-century was the waratah. In the late 19th century, Australian designers in the applied arts had initiated a movement to draw on local flora as sources of inspiration, and the adoption of Australian floral motifs became synonymous with the style of Federation architecture (1890–1915).

3 March 2015 - 9 July 2015