Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Communications and Arts

Faculty

Faculty of Education & Arts

First Advisor

Dr Hugo Bekle

Abstract

All communities face the issue of what to do with the bodies of the deceased and a wide variety of methods have been employed around the world. Since Perth was founded, the use of cemeteries to fulfil this function was made mandatory by authorities. Although this function has not changed, the form and appearance of cemeteries shows dramatic change over time. Old, traditional cemeteries with their regulated grid layouts and rows of large monumental works have been replaced with new park-like cemeteries with neither religious demarcation nor headstones. This research investigated these changes to the form and spatial organisation of cemetery landscapes and has sought to provide explanations for their development. It is based on the hypothesis that as a community grows and changes so have the methods employed to dispose of the physical remains of its dead. This variation in cemetery practice has interacted with the pre-existing landform to produce changes in the observable appearance of the landscape. Thus, cemetery practice provides a link between changes in society and cemetery form. Cultural landscape theory and sustainability both provide useful frameworks for analysis. This dissertation has two main parts: a descriptive account of Perth's operational cemeteries, followed by an explanation that links cultural change to the changes in cemetery practice which has created those landscapes. The first is a spatial analysis and a comparison of the cemetery sites with the aim of identifying and describing the components of a cemetery landscape. This uses satellite imagery, on-site surveys and interpretation of the cemetery maps published by the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board. The second part uses literary resources, statistics and interviews to describe and explain the link between changing cemetery practice and changes in the society which cemeteries serve. The research has indicated that the significant component of the cemetery landscape is the disposal landscape. The introduction of cremation and lawn burial areas as a response to cultural demands, and changes to more efficient internal processes have produced dramatic changes in the appearance of the cemetery landscape. Other changes such as the use of non-denominational areas and the adoption of organic curved designs for cemetery layout were examined. In addition to adding to a limited body of academic work, it is hoped that this study will help urban planners better cater to the future needs of Perth's residents.

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