Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sketching The Big Draw East

The Big Draw - Drawing Together in the "Big Picture Frame"
with Zandra Rhodes and Andrew Logan
16" x 11", pen and ink and coloured pencils in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The Big Draw 2007, organised by the Campaign for Drawing, was launched yesterday with The Big Draw East involving 45 different drawing events in the East End of London. I went to just a few of these and have organised my sketches and photos by location below.
Over 1,300 Big Draw events take place across the UK throughout October. Venues range from royal palaces , museums, galleries and castles to parks, schools, hospitals and village halls. Collectively they demonstrate that drawing is a universal language connecting people of all ages, abilities and cultures
The Big Draw Press Release
The main themes for the Big Draw 2007 are:
  • Shape the Future - Designing for Sustainability
  • Changing Cities;
  • Inside/Out;
  • Body Science/Body Culture; and
  • Drawing Differently.
For more information see the Campaign/Big Draw website or my post Big Draw events around the UK in October on my main blog.

Queen Mary College, University of London

In the Octagon at Queen Mary College (University of London) there were various workshops and drawing opportunities linked to the Body Science/Body Culture theme.

I sketched a small boy and his Mum. He was having a great time drawing animals on the interactive drawing board. He seemed pretty passionate about drawing and even managed to get into two of my sketches!

The face paintings were some of the best I've ever seen - children were being made up to have hybrid fish/animal qualities

I then sketched the children and their parents participating in How One Cell Made Me - which focused on biology and drawing animals. Huge rolls of drawing paper ran right across this large room and people were crouched either side totally absorbed in drawing their animals. The big purple patch is a dolphin who was apparently swimming with a little girl called Emma. I thought the best animal was the 30 foot snake which ran along the edge of one sheet of drawing paper!

Drawing Animals #1 and #2
8"x 10", pen and ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I had no need of my own colouring pencils as tins of pencils from Derwent were spread all round the room - there were huge numbers of Coloursoft, Graphitints, Inktense and sketching pencils.

Museum Gardens

In Museum Gardens I visited the Big Picture Frame - where teams of guest professional artists and illustrators were scheduled to draw for an hour at a time. (This Big Picture Frame makes a reappearance at the National Big Draw Day - held in Covent Garden over the weekend of 13-14th October.)

I arrived just after Zandra Rhodes and Andrew Logan had started their stint. After they had finished, one of their assistants spotted my drawing of them both doing their drawing in the big Picture Frame (see top) which includes two versions of Zandra Rhodes. So then we had photos of the sketch and photos of them both with me - but you're not seeing that as I managed to pull the most awful face which is not about to appear in public! They were, of course, both extremely photogenic!

They were followed by Gavin Turk and Jessica Voorsanger - who did drawings of children in the bearskin helmets worn by the Footguards. Posie Simmonds, one of the Patrons, was also due to appear later in the day.

The Campaign for Drawing - Big Draw and the Save the Children Fund are working in partnership to improve the lives of children in war torn parts of the planet. Millions of children around the world never see the inside of a classroom. Funds are to be raised to help children round the world go to school through a Big Draw/Save the Children competition where the winner gets to work with a famous artist. Drawings need to be about "The best thing about school". Materials and details can be downloaded from the web. All drawings are entered together with a donation of a £1. Drawings and cheques have to be sent to the Save the Children Fund before 31st October - see websites for further details. Big Draw East also had a Save the Children Fund tent with lots of children engaged in making drawings.

Museum of Childhood

At the Museum of Childhood the focus was on Changing Cities and I took a peek at what the children were doing. A range of activities included:

  • Lots and lots of Quentin Blake birds - suitably decorated in a variety of ways (above)
  • 'Building Lines' - using thread to recreate Cutler's Wharf which used to be home to the East India Company's sugar, cotton and tea warehouses
  • Drawing People and Places - recording people moving around the museum
  • Changing Cities - building a gigantic city with roads and 3-D homes (below)
Changing Cities' - drop in and help create a miniature 3D city. Using card, paper and pencils, draw and build the structures that make up your city; houses, schools, shops, cinemas, museums and swimming pools.

I'd like to make a point of noting that I was hugely impressed by the truly enormous quantities of pencils and paper made available by Derwent and Tullis Russell respectively for the launch events yesterday. HUGE rolls of paper and tins and tins (and tins!) of Coloursoft and Inktense and Graphitints and Sketching pencils and pastels! Lots of very helpful volunteers in blue Big Draw T- shirts too.

Queen Mary College

My final visit of the day was to the Draper's Lecture Theatre at QMC for a lecture on 'Visual Imagination and the Invention of the Body' Dr Sarah Simblet, artist and author of 'Anatomy for the Artist' and The Drawing Book (Dorling Kindersley). She had some amazing slides of how drawing bodies had changed over the centuries. I loved the one with the skeleton with the rhinocerous in the background - but there were no opportunities for sketching in the blackout required for the slideshow.

Amazing day - my only reservation about it was that there was too much good stuff going on. I wanted to go and do all the Changing Cities events for adults over in the Spitalfields area as well! The panoramic sketchathon sounded very interesting. Events spread over two days would have been maybe made that possible.

NOTE: The Campaign for Drawing is a charity. Read about its history and its plans for the future plus its endorsements and funding partners and supporters here.

Its patrons are Quentin Blake CBE, Lord Foster, David Hockney CH, Sir Richard McCormac, Andrew Marr, Sir Roger Penrose OM, Gerald Scarfe and Posy Simmonds MBE.



  1. this looks to be such a fun event, I would have loved to been able to attend it. has it made a difference do you think? have you noticed more folks drawing?

  2. It's been running for a few years now Cin and has had some national TV coverage as well. I think with these sort of things that it needs to be a sustained campaign over a period of time - and then you begin to see a difference

    I do know that I see a lot more kids drawing in museums and a lot more sketchbooks on show in exhibitions these days.


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