Drawing Projects UK was established in 2009 to develop, organise and promote projects that provide opportunities to experience drawing and to gain knowledge and understanding of drawing in the UK. In 2015 I was looking for a new studio in the area and, as well as providing me with a beautiful space to make work, Bridge House has serendipitously enabled the opportunity to expand Drawing Projects UK through a new physical space for a centre for the research and development of drawing and contemporary art in Trowbridge.
Throughout my career, as an artist, educator and exhibition organiser, I have been involved in championing the role of drawing in creative practice and education. The wider passion and enthusiasm to develop knowledge and understanding of drawing has grown substantially in the last few decades and is evidenced by numerous initiatives in the UK, including the annual Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition of which I am the founding director and have been leading since its inception in 1994 to the present day.
Drawing is both a sophisticated and vital means of thinking and communicating, and readily accessible to all. As a primary visual language, essential for cognitive development and enhanced communication and expression, drawing can be seen to be as important as the development of written and verbal skills. The need to understand the world through visual means would also seem more acute than ever; with images transcending many barriers and enhancing communications in an increasingly globalised world. Drawing is a primary means of expression, and an integral means of creative development and ideation, reflection and information gathering. This surely means we should invest time and resources in the development of our knowledge, understanding, skills and facility, in and through drawing. And at a time when the creative industries have become one of the fastest growing sectors of the UK economy, it would seem extremely important that the role and value of drawing is recognised for the significant contribution it makes to the development and sustenance of creative, cultural, social and economic wellbeing.
The establishment of The Drawing Centre project space and training room, which underpins our research and development and facilitates public engagement with drawing, was facilitated through generous support from Bridge House Community Trust. This enabled us to programme the first Drawing Sessions and Drawing Discussions with leading artists, designers and makers and our ongoing partnership with Trowbridge Arts to deliver Exploring Drawing. In 2016, our pilot Open to Draw programme has featured artists from the UK and Australia. The scheme is open to applications for the proposal of individual projects that test and develop new approaches to drawing and the exploration of drawing within a wide range of practices. It aims to facilitate the development of new work, and to foster dialogue through public interface with the research and development of drawing via seminars, workshops, display and public presentations within The Drawing Centre as a site for the testing of ideas in and through drawing.
Bridge House also has 12 workspaces available for individuals and micro-enterprises in the creative and cultural industries, which are ideal for artists, designers and makers, and those who wish to work alongside these creative professionals and the activities of Drawing Projects UK. With the aim of furthering the opportunity for informal networking and exchange, and to support Bridge House as a destination to see, make and discuss drawing, a café will open in October.
Built in 1929, as the Wiltshire Working Men's Conservative Benefit Society, Bridge House and with the carved motto 'Unity is Strength' above the front door, it seems fitting to aim to foster and build a vibrant, outward facing and inclusive community through the activities of Drawing Projects UK in this landmark building.
We are still very much in the early days of implementing our vision, to breathe new life into Bridge House as a creative and cultural hub. If you would like to know more, to become involved, or to support what we are doing please contact us.