The Big Draw is the world’s largest drawing festival that takes place this year between 1 October and 2 November across the UK and in twenty other countries, with 280,000 people taking part in over 1000+ events. The Big Draw offers thousands of enjoyable, and mainly free, drawing activities which connect people of all ages with museums, outdoor spaces, artists, designers, illustrators – and each other. Events are for those who love to draw, as well as for those who think they can’t! To support the great programme of Big Draw activities across Wakefield, ourselves and the Theatre Royal Wakefield hosted a Big Draw Training Day as part of the Creative Learning Network. We invited teachers, artists, artists, community workers and arts professionals to take to the stage to see how we could make a drama out of drawing! The training day was run by education consultant Clare Price a long standing supporter of the Big Draw and the Campaign For Drawing. We spent the first half of the day on stage at the theatre and the afternoon at The Hepworth Wakefield. We started off with activities that used the theatre and it’s muses as inspiration.
Did you know?…
- Theatre Royal Wakefield opened as The Opera House in 1894. It was designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham.
- In the 20th Century it was used as a picture house and in the 1970’s the theatre was gutted, painted bright orange and used as a Bingo Hall!
- In the 1980’s it was refurbished and reopened as a theatre…
- On the ceiling there are eight painted panels with pictures of the Muses on. Eight of nine muses of Greek mythology were in original ceiling panels… these were painted over. During the restoration in the 80s, Kate Lyons (artist) repainted her impression of them. In each panel there is a magpie and tells this story - King Pierus boasted that his daughters rivalled the Muses in beauty and talent, they (all nine of his daughters) were turned into magpies after losing a contest with the muses. Kate included a magpie on each panel to represent King Pierus’s daughters.
- The other muse was originally painted on dress circle front but Bacchus has replaced that. Bacchus is the Greek God of Sex, Wine and Revelry.
With this rich story of the Theatre Royal to draw from we created mythic exquisite corpses as a warm up, and a bit of a giggle. We then recreated our own Greek mythological world in response to the Big Draw theme “its our world” which soon became a theatre set. We used clear Perspex clipboards and acetate to draw our muses who were beautifully posed with white drapes from the scrap store in Leeds. We all loved that the clear materials made it easer to draw your colleague and that without them we all would have come unstuck. Even if you can’t draw you can trace the outline of your friend this way.
Once our muses were on acetate we could position them on an over head projector (save the OHP!) so that we could trace them again in large scale onto a white papered wall at the back of the stage. We layered and layered the drawing adding more and more details and colour to our scene. Until eventually we had made the best set the theatre has ever seen (we think anyway!)
After all that excitement we broke for lunch and the fun didn’t stop there. We walked down to The Hepworth Wakefield leaving our own icing sugar TAGs. These were simply stencils in card with icing sugar sieved over to leave an outline on the road, pavement, walls, on the Hepworth bridge…. and all biodegradable and washed away by the wind and rain. Quick, easy and great fun, we felt like Banksy!
After a chance to build our energy back after lunch we had time to see the Franz West exhibition Where is my Eight? and in particular in West’s Adaptives, sculptural works that can be worn, and that change the way we stand, walk and generally perform in the galleries. A few warm up activities later and everyone was really getting into the main activity of the afternoon, to make a drawing adaptive!
Each team was given a body part to adapt into a drawing device. This developed into a very strange studio space in which Frankenstein like drawing creatures started to emerge! As much as this was great fun the serious note behind it was to show that mark making can be done in different ways and that you don’t need to be able to ‘draw’ accurately to have fun and learn from drawing. The activity also brought participants together who didn’t know each other to work in teams, to communicate their ideas and to work together to make an outcome that would make a mark!
With huge thanks to everyone who took part, to Clare for running a great session, to Rhiannon at the theatre and the theatre staff for tolerating our noise and laughter. Not to forget Becky Harlow, Schools Coordinator here at The Hepworth Wakefield for the hard work she puts into the events and getting the message out to let people know that it was happening.