Uses of Drawing

Submitting Institution

University of Northampton

Unit of Assessment

Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
History and Archaeology: Curatorial and Related Studies, Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

The impact that will be described within the case study focuses on how the research — which centered upon the multifarious applications, conceptualisations and roles drawing has today within various professions and disciplines - was beneficial to a group of educators with respect to their planning and implementation of an art and design based curriculum. To this end the case study will detail how the research undertaken around drawing by Staff and Cureton directly affected how both drawing was conceived by these teachers and how this informed the development of their curricula.

Underpinning research

Dr Paul Cureton and Dr Craig Staff carried out the research. Dr Paul Cureton (Associate Lecturer at UoN 20.9.07- 7.6.09 and 23.9.11-22.11.12; Research Student at Manchester Met University 2009- 2013; appointed Senior Lecturer at UoN, October. 2013) and Dr Craig Staff (appointed Senior Lecturer at UoN 2003; appointed Reader September 2011). Both Cureton and Staff approached the research from the standpoint of being practicing artists who had previously shown their own drawings within a number of exhibitions. (Marking Movements, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum, 2006; Drawing Itself, The Drawing Space, Southwell, Nottingham, 2008). Rather than perceiving the activity of drawing as a mimetic tool, the work that was shown within these exhibitions sought to explore the place of the tactile and the kinesthetic - and, moreover, how the experiential dimension of drawing serves to engender new understandings.

Developing their individual research interests within the purview of contemporary drawing, Cureton's and Staff's underpinning research sought to investigate the discursive spaces that drawing was seen to inhabit and that collectively fell beyond the scope of a fine art context. Carrying the findings of this research forward, Cureton and Staff co-curated an exhibition that was staged at the Avenue Gallery at the University of Northampton in September 2008 that was entitled "Without the Walls Which Do Not Last." Along with the exhibition, a series of drawing workshops that included learners from primary and secondary schools and from sixth-form colleges were delivered. Whilst the exhibition explored the multi-disciplinary nature of drawing, the workshops demonstrated the fact that the rationale of the research entailed a pedagogical dimension that could be further explored and developed within the ongoing research trajectory. During the period between the first two exhibitions being staged, a number of papers were co- authored and co-delivered by Cureton and Staff. These included: Of Blood, of Trade, Authority, Agency: Sought After Forms and Drawing Today delivered at the Association of Art Historians annual conference held at the Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, 4th April 2009; and Central Orbits and Corporeal Realities: Drawing and the Renaissance Workshop, delivered at the Association of Art Historians annual conference at the University of Glasgow, 17th April 2010.

Between 6th September 2011 and the 30th October 2011, Cureton and Staff co-curated the group exhibition The 43 Uses of Drawing at the Rugby Art Gallery and Museum in Warwickshire. Significantly ambitious in scope, the majority of the 43 contributors had international standing and were at the forefront of developments within their respective professions. Along with drawings that had been produced by fine artists, the exhibition included contributions from the set designer Rae Smith, the choreographer Trisha Brown, the children's author and illustrator Anthony Browne and the plastic surgeon Dr Tariq Ahmad. Although The 43 Uses of Drawing showcased a multiplicity of approaches to drawing, one of the key research insights the exhibition afforded was the fact that drawing was seen to serve a heuristic role. This role, which was evident within a number of the selected works, worked to position the activity of drawing, in one sense, pedagogically. Building upon the rationale of The 43 Uses of Drawing, the touring exhibition Rhythm / Presence that took place in 2013 sought to continue and extend this rationale of exploring the multiple uses and applications of drawing across professions as a tool of communication and understanding. The exhibition included drawings made by civil engineers, chorographers and urbanists. The venues of the exhibition were The Centre for Recent Drawing, London, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Manchester, and the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), Dublin. Along with the touring exhibition, a website was designed that was linked to the exhibition and provided free downloadable teaching resources. As with the previous two exhibitions, and stemming from the research that had been carried out over the last five years, a further round of drawing workshops were organised and supported the ideas that informed the exhibition.

References to the research

Paul Cureton, "Species of Drawing in Landscape Architecture," Journal of Green Places, Issue 58, 2009, pp. 42-43.

Paul Cureton, "Thinking Drawing: Image Typologies for Processes in Landscape Architecture, 7- 10 September 2011.

Becky Sobell with Paul Cureton' in Representing Landscapes: A Visual Collection of Landscape Architectural Drawings, Edited by Nadia Amoroso, published March 14th 2012 by Routledge - 264 pages.

Paul Cureton Videre: Drawing and Evolutionary Architectures" in MADE, Issue 7/8. September 2012, editor Mhari McVicar

Craig Staff & Paul Cureton, Craig Staff and Paul Cureton, "Of Blood, of Trade, Authority, Agency: Sought After Forms and Drawing Today" in Drawing in the Expanded Field exhibition, Association of Art Historians, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2nd - 4th April 2009.

Craig Staff & Paul Cureton, "The Life of Paolo Uccello: Drawing Transitions Through Curriculums" in Transitions, University of Northampton Teaching and Learning Conference, 27th May 2009.

Craig Staff, "Burrowing Under the Apparent: The Blindfold Drawings of Claude Heath" chapter contribution in On Not Looking (ed. Frances Guerin) Forthcoming.

Research Grant Ernest Cook Trust awarded a grant of £1200 to fund a series of drawing workshops.

Details of the impact

The two drawing exhibitions The 43 Uses of Drawing and Rhythm/Presence that Cureton and Staff curated had a total of 5270 visitors. In addition to the curation of exhibitions, a series of learning resource packs designed by Cureton were made available to download on the TES website [ ]. Nine resource packs were uploaded onto TES and included "Drawing & Mapping," "Drawing & Architecture" and "Drawing for Design." As of 4th July 2013 there were a total number of 4294 visits to the core websites. As of 11th June 2013 there had been 58,558 visitors to the TES resource pages and a total of 38,708 resource packs downloaded. In relation to these downloadable resource packs for teachers 13 workshops were delivered either concurrently with or after each of the exhibitions. The content of these workshops was directly keyed into and reflected some of the over-arching themes of the exhibitions. These workshops were devised to promote a particular engagement with and exploration of drawing as a means of making sense not only of the world, but of the individual's place within it. Rather than solely emphasising the importance of technical skill, the workshop activities instead placed an emphasis upon the learner's imagination, their ability to visualise and their willingness to explore and work across imagery, media and technique.

Teachers of participating schools and colleges were asked to fill in workshop evaluation questionnaires, which provided the means of measuring impact. Specifically, the feedback from the first round of workshops evidenced the teachers intended to incorporate ideas and approaches to drawing within their own pedagogy. For example, a teacher who attended a workshop that accompanied the first drawing exhibition stated: "[they] loved the focus on drawing and the value of developing ideas through drawing [and] inspired my Y10 lesson the next day actually!" Another teacher from the same round of workshops asked in her feedback whether "they could come to school and offer the idea as a whole school drawing experience." Resulting from these workshop series, Staff and Cureton were invited to deliver a staff development session for teachers based at the Weston Favell Primary School, Northamptonshire. The teacher observed that "[a]ll staff thoroughly enjoyed the session and we generally felt we had begun to relax about our own personal inhibitions regarding drawing."

In addition to running a series of four drawing workshops for primary schools that accompanied The 43 Uses of Drawing, Cureton organised and delivered a number of training sessions for teachers of schools in the region who were seeking to develop new skills and incorporate aspects of the exhibition into their own pedagogy. Participant feedback from the workshops again indicates how the ideas that emerged during Staff and Cureton's research was now directly informing and impacting upon the pedagogy of individual teachers and educators. For example, one teacher in their feedback commented that although resource issues in their workplace had initially raised difficulties in implementing the workshop ideas, they had "[b]een able to use alternative processes such as screen printing, sewing, wire etc. to explore drawing in different ways." This teacher also noted that the training had given them "the initial starting point to try and introduce using software to explore drawing." Another teacher who attended the same training noted that they were "able to adapt [their] own teaching projects to suit the elements of the instruction given by Paul [Cureton] and the drawing resources available from the university."

The most recent round of drawing workshops in 2013 were delivered as part of the Rhythm/Presence exhibition. These were delivered to a number of groups of KS1 and KS2 students and centred upon, as with the previous drawing workshops, particular themes within the exhibition. Feedback was provided by the teachers of the respective schools and was indicative of how the approaches to drawing introduced within the workshops could be adopted and subsequently developed by the teachers themselves within their own pedagogy. For example, the teacher from St James Infant School in Northampton, when asked whether she would incorporate aspects of the workshop within her own teaching, provided the following response: "Definitely. We do a topic on Journeys. This workshop will now feature in next year's planning! It will be a great extension to what we have begun." Equally, the teacher from Kingsley primary School in Northampton when asked the same question remarked: "Absolutely! I will use this with my new Year 1 class. I will follow the same idea but I will also use this when creating our story maps of fictions stories."

Moreover, impact is measurable due to the comments given around how the workshops had changed their understanding of what drawing can be and how it can be used within a classroom setting. For example, one teacher remarked that the drawing workshop had "definitely" changed their understanding whilst another noted "it was wonderful to see the children working together to produce a `whole', but still be able to work independently. This is not often done in school — usually a group piece is prescribed and achieving only one outcome."

Sources to corroborate the impact

Teacher Evaluation questionnaires
Bridgewater Primary School, Northampton; St James Infant School, Northampton; Kingsley Primary School, Northampton: Castle Primary School, Northampton; King Edward VI College, Nuneaton; North Leamington School, Leamington Spa; Priory School, Hitchin.

Exhibition visitor numbers
The 43 Uses of Drawing: Total number of visitors: 4018; Participants to the Big Draw event: 678; School children: 454 Rhythm/Presence at C4RD, London, 7-16 March 2013: Total number of visitors: 250 (estimate)
Rhythm/Presence at The Drawing Project, IADT, Dublin, Ireland, 20 March - 8 April 2013:
Total number of visitors: 550
Rhythm/Presence at CUBE Gallery, Manchester, 22 April - 9 May 2013: Total number of visitors: 452

Website visits/downloads
Visitors to core websites as of 4th July 2013: 4294 Rhythm / Presence Website:

Average/day Totals
Month Hits
Jul 2013 56 47 12 8 4333 227 189 48 34 17333
Jun 2013 111 96 18 12 12720 3342 2901 553 378 381606
May 2013 239 213 23 15 30817 7421 6626 731 478 955337
Apr 2013 432 395 34 21 60910 12969 11867 1034 636 1827300
Mar 2013 993 900 61 25 143827 30792 27914 1905 801 4458636
Feb 2013 535 467 33 14 74105 15003 13086 931 404 2074942
Jan 2013 333 133 19 2 22031 10346 4141 605 90 682949
Dec 2012 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 1 1 9

Visitors to TES resource pages as of 11th June 2013: 58, 558
Number of resource packs downloaded from the TES pages as of 11th June 2013: 38,708
TES resource pages website: Testimonials
Jessica Litherland, Senior Exhibitions Officer, Rugby Museum and Art Gallery; Andrew Hewish, Director, C4RD; Exhibitions Officer, The Drawing Project, Dublin Ireland (IADT); Nancy Porter, Gallery Manager, Cube.
Exhibition Reviews
MK Palomar, "That thing we do to put our ideas and observations into the world", Studio International, published 14/09/11:"