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Volume 15, No. 1Drawing Matters

Published 13 December 2021

Issue description

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)