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Annette O'Sullivan

Doctor of Philosophy, (Design)
Study Completed: 2019
College of Creative Arts


Thesis Title
Wool Bale Stencils: A Design History of New Zealand Branding and Visual Identity 1850-2019

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Wool bale stencils have had a ubiquitous presence in New Zealand culture for over 150 years. They were the first export brands to represent the country, they became the visual identity in branding sheep stations and have been used in contemporary New Zealand design. Despite this, there has been little published on their history, use, meaning or significance in New Zealand culture. Ms O’Sullivan selected historic sheep stations as sites for a material culture study of objects and their transformations over time. Through a framework of life stages of a designed object she constructed a colonial history of wool bale stencilling, a vernacular lettering history, histories of brand identity on New Zealand sheep stations, and a design history of visual identity derived from wool bale stencils. The results confirmed the contribution of wool bale stencils as significant items of rural cultural heritage and preserves the memory of a disappearing history.

Professor Vicki Karaminas
Professor Claire Robinson