Sunday, 17 December 2017

Drawing resources guide pt2

This is the second of four parts of a drawing resources guide I created as part of my postgraduate study. You can find the first part, which includes an introduction to what it's all about, here.

This post features:
Galleries and museums
Drawing centres


The Big Draw
Founded in the UK in 2000 under the name the Campaign for Drawing, The Big Draw is an arts education charity that promotes visual literacy and aims to get everyone drawing. It runs annual drawing festivals in more than 20 countries (taking up the month of October each year), with events at major venues such as the British Museum and the National Gallery of Australia, and locally organised activities and exhibitions. The Big Draw also organises research projects, campaigns, educational conferences and the annual John Ruskin drawing prize. Its patrons include Quentin Blake, Norman Foster and David Hockney.

Centre for Drawing, Wimbledon
The centre, based at the University of the Arts, London, focuses on developing research, debate and support for members of the Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Graduate School, and has organised exhibitions and published books designed to enhance our understanding of drawing.

Sketchbook Project
Brooklyn Art Library, 28 Frost Street, Brooklyn, NY11211, USA
This global collaborative project, based in the USA, hosts a crowd-sourced library of 36,000 artists' books contributed by people from more than 135 countries. Participants buy a book, draw in it and post it back. The books are digitised, tagged and made accessible at Brooklyn Art Library, and online under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence. Image: Brooklyn Art Library.

Galleries and museums

British Museum
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
The UK's national collection of drawings is held at the British Museum, in the Department of Prints and Drawings. (While the National Gallery and Tate hold the nation's paintings, both also hold some drawings, particularly contemporary works at the Tate.) The British Museum holds around 50,000 drawings dating from the beginning of the 15th century until the present day.

Royal Collection
Windsor Castle, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ
Old Master drawings, 80 portraits by Hans Holbein the Younger, important drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael, and 600 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci are just a few of the drawings in this collection. Specialist research visits to the Print Room are by appointment only, subject to security clearance.


Art Libraries Society (ArLIS)
ArLIS is the professional organisation for people involved in providing library and information services and documenting resources in the visual arts. Its website includes an A-Z list of art libraries.

British Library
96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
While the Library's collection of drawings and prints became part of the British Museum's collection in 1808, it retains a collection that has been classified as "evidence" rather than art, on such subjects as topography, architecture, costume, science, natural history and garden design. Notebooks by Leonardo da Vinci, William Blake, Albrecht Dürer and Christopher Wren, as well as Persian, Chinese and Japanese drawings are in the Library's collection. A selection of drawings have been digitised and are available online.

Courtauld Library
Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN
The library at the Courtauld Institute of Art is a specialist library within the University of London that provides a service to its own students and staff, but also to visiting scholars and researchers whose research needs cannot be met elsewhere.

National Art Library
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
The library, which is freely accessible to the public and located in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, holds more than one million items, including many with particular interest to the fields of drawing, prints, and the art, craft and design of the book. Around 100,000 drawings made in Europe and the USA across a wide range of periods, schools and styles can be seen by registered users on request in the Prints and Drawings Study Room. The library also offers access to online databases and image resources only available while at the building. A rotating exhibition of drawings is displayed in Rooms 88a and 90 of the V&A.

Ruskin Library
74 High Street, Oxford OX1 4BG
The library specialises in fine art, art history and theory, art techniques and human anatomy, and holds around 6,000 titles, 20 art journals, and more than 2,000 art-related pamphlets. A digital archive of its slide collection, which consists of more than 15,000 images, is available on the departmental server.

Stuart Hall Library
Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA
The focus of this special collections library and archive of Iniva (Institute of International Visual Art) is contemporary art from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and the work of British artists from diverse cultural backgrounds. Named after the Jamaican-born cultural theorist and sociologist, and based in Shoreditch, London, it holds monographs, catalogues, periodicals, DVDs and slides on the visual arts and culture, including drawing. (It's where I volunteer.)

Drawing centres

Dedicated drawing exhibitions may take place at many types of venues, including the major national museums and galleries already listed, but there is also a growing number of centres that specialise in exhibiting drawn work.

C4RD (Campaign for Recent Drawing)
2-4 Highbury Station Road, London N1 1SB
Located behind Highbury and Islington tube station, C4RD is a non-commercial curatorial space set up in 2004 that organises exhibitions, residencies and talks, and publishes books on drawing. The C4RD Community is an online register of artists with images, links and statements that reflect the broad scope of contemporary drawing. Programmes at C4RD include an online residency, and studio spaces for artists for whom drawing is a core part of their practice.

Drawing Projects UK
Bridge House, 10 Stallard Street, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 9AE
Drawing Projects UK is a centre set up by the founder of the Jerwood Drawing Prize, Anita Taylor, to develop and promote research initiatives through exhibitions, events and workshops in drawing and contemporary art that is based in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. The centre has 12 studios and workspaces for artists, designers and makers, and offers mentoring and professional services for artists and curators.

The Drawing Room
Unit 8, Rich Estate, 46 Willow Walk, London SE1 5SF
The Drawing Room is the only public and not-for-profit gallery in Europe dedicated to drawing, and promoting its practice, theory and methodology. Founded in 2002, its solo and group exhibition programme includes the Drawing Biennial, and embraces traditional and experimental approaches. Studio tours, discussion panels, workshops and artist-led projects encourage dialogue and critical debate and contribute to contemporary drawing scholarship. Its Outset Study library contains around 2,000 books and 70 journals on international contemporary drawing since the 1970s. The centre is part of an international network of initiatives that promote interchange between artists, curators, academics and the public.

International drawing hubs, which offer similar services to the Drawing Room, include:
Belgium: Galerie The Drawing Box, Tournai
Germany: The Drawing Hub, Berlin
Netherlands: Kunstvereniging, Diepenheim
Norway: Tegnerforbundet, Oslo
USA: The Drawing Center, New York

Rabley Drawing Centre
Rabley Barn, Mildenhall, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 2LW
The centre, established in 2005, is a self-funded, non-profit educational organisation based in the Wiltshire countryside. Along with courses in drawing and printmaking, it runs events, exhibitions, artists' talks, a residency scheme and the annual Sketch prize and exhibition for artists' sketchbooks. The commercial Rabley Contemporary Gallery specialises in drawings, works on paper and prints by leading UK artists.

The first part of this resources guide can be found here. Two more parts will follow soon.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Drawing resources guide pt1

As part of my postgraduate study at City, University of London, I created a drawing resources guide. It seems a good idea to share it here too - it's pretty much copied and pasted as it was for that assignment. It doesn't claim to be fully inclusive, and it is UK-centric, but I came across useful and to-me unexpected things as I researched it. I'll spread it across four posts here in the coming weeks. Part 2, covering drawing organisations, galleries and museums, libraries and drawing centres, can be found here.

This post covers:
Online resources
Electronic resources


This resources guide is aimed primarily at artists who have some experience of drawing, perhaps through an art or design school education at foundation or undergraduate level. There is a big industry aimed at those taking up drawing for the first time, which this guide does not generally include, although less-seasoned artists should still find useful points of contact here.

Drawing has been having something of a renaissance in recent years, and many of the resources referred to here are relatively new and rising to prominence. They range across books, publications, libraries, museums, television and art materials stores. Two-dimensional graphic work, especially when small and highly portable, is easily scanned and shared online, and the internet has led to a variety of online communities: website addresses are included where appropriate, and street addresses for those in a specific location that can be visited. They are almost entirely UK-based, although references to a few international organisations are also included.

Many of the resources listed below make the most of the variety of social media on offer – which at this time means Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo or YouTube. These give the opportunity to make contact with artists with a similar interest in drawing, with all the benefits that can bring. But there are a growing number of centres dedicated to drawing that run events, workshops, lectures, competitions or exhibitions where it is possible to see works as they are best viewed: in the flesh.

Online resources

Formerly a monthly print magazine (Artists Newsletter), but now entirely online with a membership of more than 20,000 artists, a-n includes news, exhibition reviews, blogs, campaigns, business advice, job opportunities and networks to enable contact with other artists and curators. Although a-n is aimed at practitioners across the whole range of contemporary practice, it is an important hub for those who draw. 

Axisweb was set up in the 1990s by the then Arts Council of Great Britain as a slide index located in Leeds as a means by which commissioners could search for artists. It now presents the work of more than 3,000 selected artists through its online Axis Directory, and acts as a focus for curators, commissioners and the public. The website includes video playlists, an Artist of the Month, a series of guides to help artists on such subjects as writing a CV and building an online presence, and curated and editorial sections for user-generated content. 

DRAW International
DRAW International describes its role as "fostering artistic research to promote and reveal ideas within a contemporary context". This centre of research for postgraduate art and design education is based in France, and organises residency programmes in its studio spaces, along with lectures, conferences, tuition and exhibition space.

Drawing Matter
This growing archive includes architectural material that focuses on drawing as the "exploration and discovery of ideas and means of suggesting them". The website, along with events and other activities, encourages a widening discourse on the ways innovation and creativity are advanced through the sketch, the sketchbook, the study drawing and rendering. The website provides factual information and short texts that relate to drawings it presents from the archive, organised under themes such as Drawing of the Week, By Invitation, and Topics.

Drawing Research Network
An international network of institutions and researchers, artists, designers and educators who are involved with the promotion of drawing as a practice, either professionally, academically or through everyday activity. 

Graphic Witness
A website dedicated to graphic imagery making a social comment dating from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. Subjects include the terrorist attacks on the USA in September 2001, the Mexican revolution, and Soviet poster art.

Hatch describes itself as providing a community and platform for drawing and related areas of research, practice and exploration. Its AIR (artists in residence) programme features collaborations with artists who propose and undertake specific drawing-based projects. Hatch was founded in 2012 as a research project under the PLaCE Research Centre at the University of the West of England, Bristol (see below).

LAND2 ("land squared") is a national network of artist/lecturers and research students 
with an interest in landscape/place oriented art practice founded in 2002, and hosted by Leeds University. It meets for symposia and conferences and for presentations of 
members' work, and has links with PLaCE International (see below), with which it has similar aims and interests.

PLaCE International
PLaCE International (Place, Location, Context and Environment) is a consortium of academic research centres and individuals who address issues of place, location, context and environment (the initials of which contribute to the group's name) across various disciplines, through research projects, creative programmes, educational activities and international partnerships. Founded at the University of the West of England, Bristol, it is now located at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee, with links to the University of Minnesota, USA, University of Melbourne, Australia, and Université de Nantes, France.

Reportage artists such as George Butler and Olivier Kugler are still in demand for the unique insight that their work can bring to events that are newsworthy, such as the war in Syria or homelessness. Reportager focuses on drawing as reportage, visual journalism, documentary drawing and illustration as a visual essay, with its website acting as an editorial space for the dissemination of good practice. It includes news, opportunities, links to reportage projects, films, and information about leading reportage artists.

Thinking Through Drawing
An independent education and research network that hosts symposia, fosters collaboration, and runs occasional educational courses and workshops.

Urban Sketchers
Urban Sketchers is an international non-profit network of artists who work on location, sharing work online at a central international website and at a local level through social media. Groups meet to draw and exhibit together, and there is an annual international symposium and workshop programme. (Image: the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester, 2016.)

Electronic resources

These online resources are invaluable for research into recent graphic art, with access to full text, indexing and abstracts. Subscription based databases may be accessed through institutional log-ins, and through libraries, such as the National Art Library.

Art Full Text (EBSCO)
This includes full text articles, indexing and abstracts from more than 300 publications, and indexing and abstracts for peer-reviewed journals and dissertations with an art theme, including the graphic arts.

Art Bibliographies Modern (ProQuest)
Abstracts of journal articles, books, essays, exhibition catalogues, and reviews of modern and contemporary art dating back to the late 1960s.

Artist Biographies
This is an online biographic dictionary of British and Irish artists and designers, which includes movements, schools, organisations and galleries, with a focus on the 20th century.

Artstor is an online resource with a mission to enhance scholarship and teaching 
through digital images and media. The not-for-profit digital library includes more than 
2 million high-resolution images from 280 collections. They are searchable through keywords, dates, geography, classification and collection from institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Berlin State Museums.

Oxford Art Online
Oxford Art Online is the access point to a range of authoritative art reference resources, including Grove Art Online, which includes biographies, articles and images, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, with 170,000 artist entries, and The Oxford Companion to Western Art, among others.

See part 2: drawing-related organisations, museums and galleries, libraries and drawing centres.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Digital and tangible sketchbooks: my postgraduate research

My postgraduate research into the collection and accessibility of sketchbooks in the UK's galleries, libraries, archives and museums, which has kept me busy for the past 12 months, is now finished and published online. (Cue the sound of popping corks.) You can find it on Humanities Commons at:

Its appeal may be a bit niche. Essentially, it's about how sketchbooks can be found and accessed in the UK's institutions. To do this, I interviewed a handful of people, mainly artists, about their experiences of going into the archives to research sketchbooks, and then sent a questionnaire to sketchbook-holding institutions about how they are collected and accessed – a magnificent 55 of these responded. The sketchbooks weren't just those that belonged to artists, but also those of designers, filmmakers, engineers, architects and others.

Arranging to see and handle sketchbooks in an archival situation requires a bit of forward-planning and organisation, but getting your hands on them can reveal their contents more fully than when they are viewed as printed reproductions or digitally. To hold them and turn their pages in your hands is to better understand them.

But there are many digitised sketchbooks available online that don't require you to head out to the archive to view them in person. Digitisation broadens accessibility to a global scale, and more and more institutions are turning towards sharing their sketchbooks this way: the Hunterian, Glasgow, the Henry Moore Institute, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Tate Archive are examples of those that show them online. There are, of course, many more.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Around London in 2017

Bell Lane, London E1

Here are three drawings from recent Urban Sketchers gatherings around London: above, a glimpse of the Gherkin from Bell Lane in the East End...

Commercial Street, London E1

... towards Commercial Street from the churchyard at Christ Church, Spitalfields...

Lambeth Towers, south London

... and a view of the charmingly brutalist Lambeth Towers from the grounds of the Imperial War Museum. There's a link to the planned programme of gatherings in 2018 on the London Urban Sketchers website, found here. Everyone is always welcome.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Sketchbook exhibition opens in Lancaster

Sketch 2017, the touring show of 100 sketchbooks, including two of mine, is heading to its final venue, at the Peter Scott Gallery, Lancaster University, where it will continue from 20 November to 15 December 2017. It's an exhibition where you can get your hands on most of the sketchbooks on display, rather than peering at them in a glass box. There's more information about opening times and location on the gallery's website

Meanwhile the group show of drawings at the award-winning Timberyard cafe in Noel Street, Soho, London, comes to a close on Friday 24 November. Time is short if you want to pay a visit there...

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Drawing for DocPerform

I was commissioned to draw an image for this month's DocPerform 2 symposium at City, University of London, which considers the future of documents and the documentation of performance. It was an enjoyable project to take on, and features two recognisable London venues and another one plucked from the imagination.

See more of my drawings on Instagram or Flickr.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

In a Cornish field

We had a week in the late summer visiting the lovely farming relations on the north Cornwall coast. We pitched our tent with a view down the coast towards Land's End, and between the showers there was time to get out a brush and black ink – I'd left the pens behind, intentionally, in London.

The way ink from a bottle is used has to be different from ink from a pen is used, yet my instinct here is largely the same. A few people mentioned the change in "style", but it doesn't feel like that, nor was it meant as that. The forms that can be created to show a tree or hedge seem more suited to a wash of liquid ink than the lines of black pen, as I mentioned in my previous post.

What felt new was perhaps not. They reminded Ms S, who would know these things, of what I was doing in the 1980s. So much for change.

You can see more of my work on Instagram and Flickr.