School of Arts

Elise Whetter

CRCAH doctoral candidate

Applied aspirations: Design and applied art at the Ballarat Technical Art School during the early twentieth century.
Elise Whetter


Elise’s thesis explores the contextual space inhabited by technical art, applied art and design education during the early twentieth century.

The Ballarat Technical Art School, a predecessor institution of Federation University Australia, serves as a mooring from which to examine the value, tensions and outcomes of art and design education in Victoria and beyond.

The research makes extensive use of many sources housed within FedUni’s own art and historical collections.


Elise is a PhD candidate and graphic designer with a long connection to Federation University Australia (FedUni) and its antecedent institutions. Elise graduated from the university in 1992 and returned as a sessional lecturer before establishing a graphic design studio with her husband in 1998. The university is a key client. Elise’s thesis explores the influences and impact of one of these institutions, the Ballarat Technical Art School, with particular reference to design and applied art education during the early twentieth century.


Elise participated in the Australian Historical Society (AHA) Conference in 2016 and presented a peer-reviewed paper to the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS) conference in 2017.

Principal supervisor: Dr Carole Wilson
Associate supervisor: Dr Roberta Crisci-Richardson