Sophie Charalambous

The Drawing Year 2009

BA Painting, University of Brighton

I found out about The Drawing Year when I took a night class at the Royal Drawing School, which reignited my interest in observational drawing. I decided to apply because I wanted to take a year out to improve and develop my drawing and find out how it linked my practice as an artist and designer.

I had been out of education for a few years when I joined The Drawing Year, which helped me to appreciate that the opportunity to have this time to draw was a rare and wonderful thing. As a more mature student I felt more confident on The Drawing Year to participate in discussions and conversations about art. The course felt very different to my first experience of art school. There is definitely more emphasis on teaching on The Drawing Year than on a degree course and a feeling of belonging to a school of thought.  

Lots of things clicked into place during my time on the year. Re-engaging with the visual arts in a new way, through the drawings of other artists, was a revelation. Drawing out in the city and from the work of other artists, is something I would never have done if I hadn't been at the Drawing School. I don't think I imagined having access to so many collections and trips and visits.  

On the Foreshore

When I started The Drawing Year I remember Timothy Hyman telling us not to think too much about how this year relates to your practice, just draw as much as you can and improve. Which I think was really good advice: just to make lots of drawings in different ways. I felt that a lot of what I did during the year was pretty rubbish! But when I got back into my studio after I'd finished I felt much more confident and connected to my work, and able to express my ideas more clearly.

After graduating I went on the study trip to Paris for the 10th Anniversary celebrations of the School which was amazing. We drew from the major collections at museums like the Louvre and the Musee D'Orsay and then exhibited them at Buckingham Palace. I was also fortunate enough to have an exhibition with two other alumni in the Royal Drawing School’s gallery space in 2012, and have been commissioned by the School several times to make large drawings and theatrical backdrops for events.