What is drawing?

DRAWING is a programme of exhibitions and events exploring the role and importance of drawing in arts, culture and the everyday.

DRAWING was first conceived by Esen Kaya in 2014 as a result of an exhibition she co-curated with Dr. Mike Collier, University of Sunderland titled ‘What is drawing?’ in September 2013 at The Customs House Gallery. Esen Kaya’s vision has driven DRAWING throughout its development, together with the much-valued support, expertise and contributions from the region’s universities and partner organisations across the visual arts and community engagement sectors.

We have successfully completed two rounds of DRAWING, experimenting with the concept of what the project could be, its position in the region and what the possible future could be. To explain its history in brief:

Phase 1: 2015 – 16

Working with a steering group made up of three North East universities; Newcastle University, University of Northumbria and University of Sunderland, we secured a grant from Arts Council England National Lottery to deliver a six-month pilot programme. Esen Kaya co-curated a thematic programme with Dr. Mike Collier (UoS) exploring more formally ‘drawing?’ in partnership over twenty partner organisations from Berwick Visual Arts to BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art. The programme was a series of exhibitions, events and education projects working with a broad range of audiences and involving artists at all stages of their career.

Phase 2: 2017 – July 2018

As an independent Curator, Esen Kaya received a further grant from Arts Council England to implement DRAWING’s developmental programme with an increased portfolio of partner organisations across the North East. This time, the programme included hosting a small symposium to engage audiences with the idea of what DRAWING could offer long term, in terms of exhibition and engagement – a test bed to initially explore the idea. During this phase, we also commissioned a film to illustrate and evidence the diversity and support for the project.

Phase 3: 2018 – 2019

Working with all of the region’s universities; Newcastle University, University of Northumbria, University of Sunderland, Teeside University and Durham University and with UoS as lead applicant, we secured another grant from Arts Council England National Lottery to undertake much needed R&D. The overall aim of this phase is to develop DRAWING from a project into a permanent cultural organization in the North East. As part of this phase we will deliver key outputs and they are;

  • A major DRAWING Symposium with keynote speaker renowned artist Tania Kovats and contributions from high artists, leading thinkers and academics working in the visual arts and education sectors. Please see DRAWING Symposium in Whats On section for further details.
  • Develop new partnership with The Biscuit Factory Foundation for longer term studio space and operational activity.
  • A series of community outreach workshops working with eight key partner venues including BALTIC, National Glass Centre, MIMA, Woodhorn Museum, Empty Shop Durham, The Comfrey Project, Gateshead Library and Grainger Market, Newcastle.
  • Develop a Business and Programme Development plan working with external consultant and project Evaluation with Susan Priestly.

This phase will enable us to pull together constructive feedback from all our project partners and audiences, who will help inform our development plan. If you would like to contribute to the debate about DRAWING and have an input into its future programme, please do contact us.