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

    Drawing is typically imagined as an additive, connective and creative process. Adding marks to paper sets up a mimetic lineage connecting object to hand to page to eye, creating a new and lasting image captured on the storage medium of the page.

    Or does it? A strand of art historical thought from Pliny to Derrida emphasizes what is lost in drawing, exploring the drawing process as a phenomenon that begins from a point of blindness or looking away and proceeds from a perspective of extreme myopia. Implicit in the myopic movement of the stylus is loss of perspective, direction, intention or foresight, such that drawing can be imagined to proceed in a state of not knowing. This changed perspective can result in the conceptual loss or retreat of the thing being drawn, as it is objectified and even dissected—literally or metaphorically—by the person drawing, who might themselves feel alienated from their object by this process. The work of paper conservation shows us that the storage medium of the page is anything but stable, and far from storing an image, can suffer damage and loss of its own without monitoring and periodic intervention in the archive.

    This special issue reflects upon the dynamic relationship between drawing and loss, taking a multidisciplinary approach to integrate otherwise heterogeneous connections to this often neglected aspect of drawing.

    Contributors have arrived at this subject from diverse perspectives, including fine art, philosophy, architecture, the study and personal experience of bereavement and memorialization, the changing climate and political landscapes, and the restrictions of lockdown. Between them they explore a breadth of a theoretical, historical and practice-based approaches to such issues as the losses and gains brought about by the myopic quality of the drawing process; how drawings or drawing processes might mitigate against loss by memorializing, being with, or standing in for the deceased or departed; the haunting or spectral presence of event and line; and the dynamic between the life of the drawing—in process, and once completed—and the life of its object.

    This issue was guest edited by Dr Tamarin Norwood, a research fellow at the Drawing Research Group, Loughborough University.

    Cover image: Cutting Lines (imprografika workshop-paper show), July 2015, Anthi Kosma

  • Drawing Matters
    Vol. 15 No. 1 (2121)

    Drawing Matters was a one-day symposium, convened by Vanessa Corby, Lucy O’Donnell and Sally Taylor at York St John University in 2017. This special edition and the associated DRN publication set out the circumstances and questions that led to this event and the drawing-led investigations that emerged from it.

    The title Drawing Matters was chosen not simply to affirm an a priori significance for the medium and its materials, but as a provocation that asked participants to consider the matters arising for and from drawing at a time of increasingly unstable socio-political circumstances: what practical purposes can drawing serve in these uncertain and divisive times? How enabling or disabling are the current theoretical frameworks at our disposal in this context?  

    These questions grew out of our collaboration as artists, writers, and The Prison Drawing Project (Scarborough, North Yorkshire, 2016) in which O’Donnell and Taylor both participated. We gathered people together in York to find out if they had any traction in the wider drawing community; to learn more about the creative strategies that artists, anthropologists, and curators had devised to explore the human potential of drawing. How had they circumvented the conventions of representation that govern popular perceptions of good drawing and the barriers that limited arts engagement. Three years later, we continue to ask how interventions in and through drawing can matter in positive ways for lives lived outside the academy, and what reciprocal impact they might have on the discourse written for the medium.

    Cover image courtesy of Lucy O'Donnell: Sitting with Uncertainty (2016)


    Open Call
    Vol. 15 (2021)

    2021: Articles published under the TRACEY Open call.

    Cover image courtesy of Cindy Chen: 浪石響: 江 - Sounding Langshi: River, Langshi Village, 2018

  • Drawing||Phenomenology: tracing lived experience through drawing
    Vol. 14 No. 1 (2019)

    Drawing||Phenomenology: tracing lived experience through drawing

    Drawing||Phenomenology: tracing lived experience through drawing took place on the 19th and 20th September 2017 at Loughborough University. The conference aimed to investigate and consider the role of drawing as a means to explore and trace our lived experience of the world. The theme related to a growing area of research being undertaken by researchers within the Drawing Research Group at Loughborough University. This research stemmed from an interest in what many practitioners/theorists acknowledge as fundamental attributes of drawing: that it is an intimate and immediate process and medium capable of recording the trace of the drawer’s thoughts and bodily movements. The act of drawing is said to reduce the space between the drawer and the drawing, leaving marks on the surface regardless of erasure, subsequently creating a visible trace of both the process of making and the drawer’s thoughts. The conference aimed to discuss and debate these widely accepted attributes of drawing to question whether or how drawing really can be thought of as phenomenology.

    The presenters responded to the following suggestions as starting points in the discussion, as possible themes, prompts and provocations:

    • What is the relationship between the physicality of drawing and lived experience?
    • When viewing drawings, is it possible to trace the movement of a drawer’s mind/body?
    • Are all drawing processes phenomenological?
    • How can drawing trace the physicality of spaces?
    • What are the limitations of drawing?
    • Is materiality a necessity in drawing the trace of lived experience?

    Published peer-reviewed papers in this edition, evidence some of the discussion and propositions raised at the conference, alongside the addition of papers by invited authors interested in the theme.


  • Open Call
    Vol. 13 (2018)

    2018: Articles published under the TRACEY Open call.

  • Open Call
    Vol. 12 (2017)

    2017: Articles published under the TRACEY Open call.

  • Presence
    Vol. 11 No. 1 (2016)


    The TRACEY call under the theme of Presence, poses the following questions:

    • What is the relationship between ‘drawer’ and ‘drawn’ in the moment of drawing?
    • Does drawing enable immediate sensuous presence in relation to its object?
    • How might the sustained attention of drawing be characterized? What is the role of immediacy, mediation, meditation, repetition?
    • What role do empathy, intensity and materiality play in drawing? What role do order, analysis and clarity play in drawing?
    • Is drawing a meaningful activity? If so, in what way? Do drawings have meaning? Is their meaning objective, subjective or both?
    • What does drawing say about desire? Is drawing a form of appropriation, a will-to-possess, a way of taking hold of things? Or does it imply a moment of dispossession, a surrender of ‘self’ in search of a new understanding?
    • Do accident, loss of control and the properties of the medium influence thinking?
    • Does drawing offer a mode of engagement that enables understanding the world in terms of ‘becoming’ rather than ‘being’, in terms of dynamic processes rather than static objects?
    • Does drawing reduplicate the world or can it transform it? Is it a kind of metamorphosis?
  • Open Call
    Vol. 11 (2016)

    2016: Articles published under the TRACEY Open call.

  • Open Call
    Vol. 10 (2015)

    2015: Articles published under the TRACEY Open call.

  • Thinking
    Vol. 9 No. 2 (2014)


    Special Edition: Drawing in STEAM

    • How is drawing used within and between STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and maths)?
    • What is the relationship between drawing practices in the Arts and in STEM subjects?
    • What is our current understanding of drawing, cognition and learning, and how is it contributing to curriculum development and instructional design in these areas?

    These were the questions posed at Thinking through Drawing 2012: Drawing in STEAM, a three day symposium held at Wimbledon College of Art (University of the Arts London), in association with Loughborough University and Teachers College, Columbia University on the 12-14 September 2012.

    This edition of TRACEY includes a selection of peer reviewed papers by artists and researchers from many disciplines who contributed to the event. They discuss the use of drawing as a tool for visualisation, and for thinking through non-visual problems. Mathematicians demonstrated how a drawing can prove a theory, doctors demonstrated how drawing can enhance communication with patients, and others communicated many more diverse ways in which it can facilitate learning, problem solving and invention. It appears that the way drawing is used by practitioners across disciplines may not always be congruent with how educators deal with the same subjects, but that there is a wealth of innovative practices to be shared and developed.

    Accompanying documentation of the Thinking through Drawing symposium series can be found at

    Special thanks are extended to Simon Betts and Stephen Farthing of University of the Arts London, to Simon Downs and Russ Marshall from Loughborough University and to Judith Burton and Barbara Tversky, Teachers College, Columbia University for their ongoing enthusiasm and encouragement.


  • Drawing In-situ
    Vol. 9 No. 1 (2014)

    Drawing In-situ

    The TRACEY call under the theme of Drawing In-situ, poses the following questions:

    • How does drawing on site inform the way we think about place and space?
    • Can drawing in the landscape act as a mirror to nature?
    • Does drawing in-situ add authenticity to the visualization of place?
    • In what way is drawing in-situ a phenomenological act? How does it inform our knowledge and understanding of site?
    • Is drawing in-situ a speculative strategy?
    • In contemporary education, how might drawing in-situ be used to challenge and extend a student’s perception and understanding of the site in which they are working? What are the fundamental skills advanced through this activity?
    • In what ways have contemporary approaches to drawing on site challenged existing orthodoxies concerning the depiction of place and space?
    • In a digital age, what are the benefits of real-time engagement with site through drawing on location?
  • Open Call
    Vol. 9 (2014)

    2014: Articles published under the TRACEY Open call.