This research page summarises drawing research which explores drawing as a way of knowing. Special thanks to Dr. Gemma Anderson for collating. Together, we hope to create the largest summary of drawing research on the web.
‘Drawing adds to the repertoire of possible forms of knowing’ (Lorraine Daston, 2010).
Areas of research
Click on the links to discover studies on specific areas of study.
Art/Science and Interdisciplinarity
The educational turn and contemporary art practice
Drawing research has emerged in recent years as an active strand of artistic and ontological interest. In Writing on Drawing – essays on drawing practice and research (2012) Steve Garner argues for the value of drawing for communities beyond the art world, particularly those that are scientific or cultural.
‘Drawing research presents a powerful opportunity to demonstrate the ability to generate new knowledge about the visual and to communicate this through the visual’ (Garner, 2012:15). Garner’s view, like John Berger in Ways of Seeing (Berger, 2009), challenges the supremacy of writing in visual research.
Prizes and Exhibitions
The Jerwood Drawing Prize has exhibited the diversity of contemporary drawing in London since 1994 and has provided inspiration for the workshop and exhibition programme Drawing Making: Making Drawing (2014) which showcases leading UK artists, such as Cornelia Parker, Tim Knowles, Claude Heath and Dryden Goodwin. Drawing Making: Making Drawing was held at The Drawing Room, London, the UK’s largest drawing-centred exhibitor and publisher specifically focused on drawing.
The Drawing Room provides a regular curated exhibitions programme whilst the Drawing Centre in New York, is distinctive as a museum and the only US non-profit space solely for drawing exhibitions. Smaller organisations like the Centre for Recent Drawing London and the Cornwall Morphology and Drawing Centre (CMADC), co-exist alongside as part of a wider network of activity which supports the mission of The Big Draw.
In 2012, in collaboration with The Guild of St George, The Big Draw launch The John Ruskin Prize open to all artists 18+ in the UK. Named after John Ruskin (1819-1900) the prominent Victorian artist, writer, philosopher and founder of the Guild of St George, the prize aims to uphold Ruskin’s belief that drawing helps us to see the world more clearly and makes us aware of its beauty and fragility. Read more here.
Journals and Publications
Journals investigating drawing have also emerged over recent years, most recently Drawing Research Theory and Practice (DRTP) (Intellect Ltd) which published its first volume in 2015. DRTP explores drawing as an experimental practice, as research, as representation and/or documentation, drawing as process or as performance, and drawing as an interdisciplinary practice, while taking into account the diversity of its practical, theoretical and physical expressions.
Significant recent publications include Writing on Drawing, essays on drawing practice and research (Garner, 2008), Katharine Stout’s Contemporary Drawing: From the 1960’s to now (Stout, 2014), and Mick Maslen and Jack Southern’s Drawing Projects (2012). Aeurbach’s Grapheus Was Here (2011) is featured in Nikolaus Gansterer’s publication project Drawing A Hypothesis: Figures of Thought (Gansterer, 2011: 65–76), which explores the ontological basis of forms of visualisation and the development of the diagrammatic perspective and its use in contemporary art, science and theory. Based on a discursive analysis of found figures with the artist’s own diagrammatic maps and models, Gansterer collaborated with artists and scientists to reveal drawing as a medium of research, which enables the emergence of new narratives and ideas.
Studies and Research Groups
There have been a number of academic studies and research groups that have shed light on drawing as a way of knowing. These include ‘Knowledge in the Making’ (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin), ‘The Semantics of the Image’ (Eikones, Basel) and the emerging ‘Drawing and Cognition’ research field that has been converging on the International Thinking Through Drawing Symposiums (TTD; 2011-2015). The ‘STEM’ to ‘STEAM’ movement, as advocated by Bob Root-Bernstein (Michigan State University) works to bridge the art/science divide (e.g. Bernstein in Fruk and Weibel, 2013).
'Walking the Line' is a Lancaster University research project led by Gerry Davies and Sarah Casey. It investigates artists and creative practices that transport drawing into unusual, and challenging situations, both conceptual and actual. Situated where drawing might be counter intuitive or even impossible, new and specialist relationships, languages or modes of drawing are developed through collaboration and interdisciplinary dialogue. This blog will capture and document the research.
Other examples of drawing research
Academic studies on drawing as a way of knowing
Knowledge in the Making: Drawing and Writing as Research Techniques
Drawing Research clusters and centres
The Centre For Drawing: Wimbledon
Tracey: The site for drawing and visualisation research
Drawing Center Dippenheim