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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

What is Drawing?

Collier, Mike (2013) What is Drawing? 21 Sep - 17 Nov 2013, Customs House, South Shields.

Item Type: Show/Exhibition


An exhibition of work by artists from the North East, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Manchester and London.

Curated by Esen Kaya & Dr. Mike Collier, Reader, University of Sunderland.

This exhibition, which explores the work of a wide range of artists, asks a deceptively simple question - what is drawing? Whilst it remains an essential tool for the artist and, indeed, is still fundamental to the practice of art, we will argue in this exhibition that contemporary art has seen the form of drawing expand dramatically to encompass all manner of media whilst its role as a way of experimenting with, and challenging, ideas has also changed. The work here (which includes collaborative practice) covers a broad spectrum of approaches to art, from the pencil to mixed and multi-media, from the miniature to the expansive, from realism to abstraction, from 2D to 3D and from black and white to colour.

For the artist, says John Berger, ‘drawing is discovery’; Louise Bourgeois says that she makes ‘drawings to suppress the unspeakable’, whilst Richard Serra says that drawing is ‘ideas, metaphors, emotions, language structures’ and he emphasises that drawing comes from ‘the act of doing’… that ‘drawing is a verb’.

When the writer and philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote in The Poetics of Space that … ‘we cover the universe with drawings we have lived’, perhaps he was suggesting that drawing is a personal way of responding to the world; that it is often the most direct and immediate way of expressing ideas and feelings - making visual the traces of thought processes before they become formalised.

It is only recently in the history of art that drawings have been taken seriously. For instance, when J.M.W. Turner ‘completed’ his wonderful watercolour ‘sketches’, they were not viewed as works of art in their own right although, today, some consider them the pinnacle of
his achievement.

In this exhibition, then, we will be showing working drawings - drawing that is done to test out ideas – as well as drawing that is simply what it is… and should be considered as self contained, ‘finished’ work. The show also covers a range of media - from pencil on paper, felt tip pen or Biro, ink and charcoal, through to drawing created using found objects, or cut from paper; and we show drawing as both positive and negative process - accumulative mark marking and erasure.

This exhibition marks the beginning of a longer term project where the Customs House Gallery aims to host A Year of Drawing in 2015, inviting artists from across the region, as well as those based nationally and internationally, to focus on this important yet often hidden discipline. At the heart of this ‘Year’ will be a critical platform for
discussion and debate on what contemporary drawing is and could be, explored through exhibitions, workshops, master-classes, talks and symposia. Drawing can be executed with such great command, skill and passion that it can rival any creative discipline. We are, therefore looking forward to creating a focus on this practice and giving it the showcase it deserves.

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Depositing User: Ashleigh Little


Item ID: 4683
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Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2014 13:27
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2019 15:36


Author: Mike Collier

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries
Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Art and Design


Fine Art > Drawing

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