A year in the life of our new Gallery Studios

Aug. 9, 2022

Last year we embarked upon an ambitious building project on the ground floor of our Shoreditch campus to create some new Gallery Studios, giving us more space for drawing courses and a large exhibition area for our events. Two of our Drawing Year alumni documented the process. See what happened next...

Draw the Build

Arjuna Draw the Build

Drawing by Arjuna Gunarathne

We commissioned our Drawing Year alumni Arjuna Gunarathne and Felix Higham over a period of six weeks to document the changes in the project, which we called Draw the Build. 

Week 1 & 2

"I entered the building with past images in my mind. Parts of heavy wood, cement and brick were scattered on the floor. Loud growling noises of tools grinding through thick hard surfaces told me the building is getting a facelift. There were so many things taking place around me. These initial drawings were an attempt to capture the theatrical movements of the builders and their machines - chipping, drilling and cutting in action," says Arjuna. 

Arjuna Draw the Build

"I started the first drawing sessions with a few quick sketches to get a feel for the space. I tried to capture the many different textures of the build and used different mediums to experiment. The hardest part was trying to capture the figures who didn’t stay still for long!" Felix told us.

Felix Higham Draw the Build

Drawings by Felix Higham

Week 3 & 4

Arjuna Draw the Build

Arjuna observed, "each step is turning the build into a stunning space. Seeing, experiencing and transforming an image onto paper has been a delightful practice." 

"These drawings were completed when the builders were very busy and there was a lot of work going on. Seeing the skeleton of the building beginning to emerge, I focussed on the colour and tried to capture the figures as they rushed around," says Felix.

Felix Higham Draw the Build

Week 5 & 6

Felix Higham Draw the Build

In the last week of the project, Arjuna and Felix documented the finished studios fulfilling their intended use: during a Life Drawing class full of keen art students, a model and tutor. We love the drawings that came out of this project and give huge thanks to Arjuna and Felix for their time and dedication in documenting the changes in our building's history. 

Arjuna Draw the Build

Since then, we have had some incredible events taking place in the new space...

Deanio X: Tempered Carbon Exhibition

Deanio X exhibition

The first exhibition we hosted in our new Gallery Studios was Deanio X's solo exhibition, Tempered Carbon in October 2021. Deanio was the recipient of the Sir Denis Mahon Award 2020-21. Presented to one outgoing Drawing Year student annually, the award allows them to continue their practice, providing them with funding for a studio space and a solo exhibition in the School's Shoreditch gallery.

Festive Drink and Draw

Sugar Plum Fairy

To celebrate and kick off the festive period in December last year, we ran one of our popular Drink and Draw workshops. Visitors came along to our new studios for a free drawing session and celebratory beverage. They were encouraged to explore their creativity whilst receiving some inspirational tuition, and drawing one of our talented models dressed in suitably festive attire - as the Sugarplum Fairy from The Nutcracker! 

Weekend Drawing Marathon

Drawing Marathon weekend

Over a weekend in cold, gloomy January, we were so pleased to be able to run our competition drawing event, the Weekend Drawing Marathon. This opportunity was for anybody wanting to immerse themselves in the collective energy of an intensive drawing course and improve their drawing skills. 

The Drawing Year 2021 End of Year Exhibition

Drawing Year End of Year Exhibition PV

In April we exhibited over 400 drawings and works on paper by students graduating from The Drawing Year 2021 postgraduate programme. The private view event was an incredible evening, the gallery was packed full and it felt like a real celebration of the students' hard work, combined with a communal creative energy in the space; no doubt at the excitement of being at a large exhibition after such a long time apart. 

The Drawing Gap Taster Day

In May we ran a taster day for our brand new programme for school leavers and gap year students, The Drawing Gap. This was a chance for prospective students to take part in drawing sessions in a supportive studio environment and hear more about the course. 

Young Artists Exhibition 2022

Over 130 drawings made by students aged 10 - 18 were selected for our Young Artists Exhibition 2022 in July. This was a rare opportunity for these young artists to show and potentially sell their work in a professionally curated public exhibition. We were thrilled to have illustrator Coralie Bickford-Smith speak at the private view and meet our talented students. 

Coming soon...

Jack McGarrity in the studio

Jack McGarrity is the Drawing Year 2020 Sir Denis Mahon Award recipient, and he will be showing his solo exhibition of work from 5 - 15 September 2022 in our ground floor Gallery Studios. Keep your eyes peeled for more news soon!

The new Gallery Studios are kindly supported by Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem.