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Vol. 16 No. 1 (2022): Drawing and Loss

Why Draw When you Are Too Sad To Speak

  • Katrinka Wilson
30 November 2020


In these times of a pandemic, we are experiencing loss in ways that is bringing it to the foreground of our collective attention, and generating interesting conversations concerning living with the death of a loved one. Given this, discussions about the relationship between loss and drawing are timely, and in response to TRACEY’s provocations on this theme, I have a particular perspective to offer that combines lived experience of grief with drawing practice and previous research into the interactions of memory and the body in drawing. I suggest that drawing interacts with loss in ways that make meaning, when that is dissolved by the bereavement, and, as a response to death events, meets a neurological need for stories with which to understand the shape of the world and how to be in it. Additionally, drawing affords a way to communicate about grief when a barrage of sensations renders us inarticulate, a state captured in the title and inspired by someone else that experienced a traumatic, untimely death, who described her bereavement as ‘the place where there are no words’. I find it hard to discuss my experience of loss but I can draw it; drawing in grief can sometimes do the work that words cannot.