Creative Arts

Staff research

Drawing Research Group

Since its inception in 1998, the Drawing Research Group's key aim has been to explore and examine drawing and visualisation research processes physically, cognitively and critically.

The Drawing Research Group consists of staff and current research students at Loughborough University who have a shared interest in the use of drawing in practice-led and theoretical research. Key areas of interest include: drawing in an expanded field, drawing and phenomenology, drawing knowledge and pedagogy. Research activities, which encompass these areas of interest, have informed and stimulated methods of practice, challenged traditions and extended discourse beyond academia.

The Drawing Research Group would welcome interest not only from potential academic partners and practitioners, but also prospective postgraduates. Please contact Dr Deborah Harty

Completed PhD theses include: Saorsa, Drawing as a method of exploring and interpreting ordinary verbal interaction an investigation through contemporary practice (2004); Wilson, Mimesis and the Somantic of Drawing (2005); Whale, An Investigation of Spatial Strategy in Observational Drawing (2006); Harty, Drawing//experience: a process of translation (2010); Al Hajri, Promoting Creativity in Omani Graphic Design Education; Dajanev, Social benefits of ICT and Creative Commons; Fava, Understanding drawing: a cognitive account of observational process (2014); Graham, Recording the stream of consciousness: a practice-led study of serial drawing (2015); O’Donnell, Drawing Vignettes: ... perpetual becoming(s)(2016).

...6767... (2014)

Investigators: Alastair Adams, Andrew Selby, Hok San Terence Yeung (Nanyang Academy of Fine Art, Singapore), Hui May ((Nanyang Academy of Fine Art, Singapore)

Born out of personalised and shared interests in possible research methodologies surrounding drawing practice, ...6767... aims to demonstrate that shared views and dialogue around drawing practice can question approaches, reveal common concerns, interests and possibilities, and further promote collaborative understanding between and amongst individuals and partner institutions.

Through collaborative exchanges, ideas about how research methods inform individual and/or joint practice have the scope to strengthen and promote participants views of their own drawing expertise, grounding this knowledge in a framework that is methodical and steeped in potential for further development. The project teams researchers from both institutions to make contact, exchange ideas around drawing and formulate plans, describing how shared ideas will result in an outcome that explains research and development of a core idea, or series of ideas, through some aspect of drawing.

Dialogue was conducted and channelled through blogs and online portals to plan for the potential exhibition of these 'conversations' at the NAFA galleries in Singapore in April 2014. Exhibits included individually and/or collaboratively created outcomes in response to the project proposal. The intention of this phase of the project was to enable staff from both institutions in their respective partnerships to collaborate ideas around the theme through reasoned and mediated drawing research. The online portal provides an evidence trail of the discussions and decisions arrived at between the groups, eventually becoming part of the 'exhibition' of drawing research activity.

Drawing through touch

Investigator: Dr. Deborah Harty (Nottingham Trent University)

Drawing is said to be phenomenological, that is, capable of recording its own making and the movement of the thoughts and body of the drawer. Working in collaboration with users of the RNIB College at Loughborough – a residential college offering rehabilitation, training and life skills to those with disabilities - and My Sight Nottingham – a charity organization offering activities, support and information to promote independence for those with sight loss - the research sought to ascertain:

  • If this premise is affected when the sense of sight, as the predominant sense, is removed and drawing commences predominantly through touch
  • Whether drawing processes could develop the participators’ understanding of the world around them.

See the powerpoint presentation for Drawing through Touch powerpoint


Investigators: Dr. Russ Marshall, Phil Sawdon

Hyperdrawing is the current phase of a research project that aims to:

  • Investigate the ambiguity that emerges from the artificial boundaries employed to subdivide contemporary fine art drawing practice.
  • Within this Hyperdrawing’s specific aim is to:
  • To investigate the opportunities for the prefix ‘supra-’, meaning ‘above, over’ or ‘beyond the limits of, outside of’, within a hypothesised hierarchical representation of drawing within contemporary fine art practice.

Thinking between the lines

Investigator: Joe Graham

  • Investigate capturing ‘mood’ through a serial drawing exercise, where mood is considered to be a general feature of consciousness per se.
  • Promote a non-representational mode of demonstrational drawing to question the concept of ‘capturing’ mood via line: considered as distinct from ‘outline’ or contour.
  • Develop each stroke within a fixed period of durational time known as the subjective or ‘specious’ present, in order to focus the drawing within the present moment, and reduce the representation of specific content.
  • Produce a body of serial drawings that allow for comparative analysis, via a repetitive drawing mechanism that revisits this ‘specious present’ continuously over time.Include the notion of ‘boredom’ as a contributing factor, promoted through the repetitive nature of the drawing activity, in order to actively affect changes in mood.
  • Question whether ‘mood’ is itself a method of self-disclosure, as evident within drawing practice and consciousness. Mood is sometimes held to be essential to consciousness. One particular proponent of this view is Heidegger, who holds that Dasein in it’s nature of ‘Being-in’ is always already in a mood.
  • Update the Tracey project space at regular intervals throughout the one-year period, and continually assess the projects aims in relation to the drawings themselves. With each update there will be text discussing this method in relation to my overall enquiry.

Drawing is phenomenology

Instigator: Dr Deborah Harty Loughborough University

Whilst there is much debate, and disagreement, concerned with answering the question – “What is Drawing?” - most practitioner/theorists acknowledge both: the intimate and immediate manner of drawing, and the capability of drawing to record the trace of the drawer. Marden (in Farthing 2005, p.30) states there is, “Less between the hand and the paper than any other medium” suggesting drawing’s immediacy. When discussing drawing’s ability to record the trace of the drawer Newman (2003, p.70) suggests that, “When we look, we enter the intimate space of a work that is as close to the action of an artist’s thought as one can get.” Taylor (2008, p.10) also believes in this quality of drawing, writing, “… through the act of drawing we are not only left a trace of the physical act but a trace of the thinking process” In agreement with this, Bailey (1982, p.339) states, “More deeply than any other form in the visual arts, drawing immediately betrays how the draughtsman thinks.” Drawing, through its immediacy of means, reduces the space between the drawer and the drawing - leaving marks on the surface regardless of erasure - creating a visible trace of both the process of making and the drawer’s thoughts. 


 The project drawing is phenomenology will evolve over a three-year period considering the following:

  • Musings - the theory (including Dewey 1934 and Rosand 2002) and philosophy (including Merleau-Ponty) of both drawing and phenomenology to uncover whether it is reasonable to suggest that drawing is phenomenology.
  • Processes - the different processes and genres of drawing (including narrative, representative and non-representative) to uncover whether the premise drawing is phenomenology relates to all processes and genres.
  • Interruptions/provocations – ‘other’ factors that might alter/interfere with the premise drawing is phenomenology, for instance the use of a digital interface or the loss of a sense (for instance, sight).

Drawing out Deleuze

Investigator: Jac Saorsa

Drawing Out Deleuze is intended to evolve over a two year period and will follow two main trajectories:

  • Difference and Repetition: this trajectory will generate drawings derived from my engagement with the textual development of the concepts of ‘difference in itself’ and ‘repetition for itself.’ With these drawings I aim to evolve and extend the primary thesis through visual practice.
  • Identity and practice: this second trajectory addresses Deleuze’s contention that difference and repetition are both logically and metaphysically prior to any concept of identity, and it is directed by the investigation, through the act of drawing itself, of the individuality of practice.

Both trajectories will generate drawings that refer and relate to each individual chapter of Difference and Repetition, (and, increasingly, to each other) and these drawings will be shared on the TRACEY | project space at regular intervals throughout the two year period. With each set of drawings there will be expository notes in the form of a ‘blog’, which further documents to evolution of the project.

Ballycastle vignettes

Investigator: Lucy O'Donnell

  • A practice led phenomenological exploration of poesis that argues for inherent parallels between drawing and writing as dialogic and perpetuating becoming.
  • To adopt drawing as research method to wonder.
  • To examine wonder as method and affective state questioning if this sensibility is self perpetuating asking if to wonder is to set adrift and wander.
  • To question if wandering is inherent to poesis as dialogic experience.
  • To apply notions of Davey’s theoria as a dialogic strategy to explore how notions of poesis and becoming may negate obligations to closure in practice led research.
  • To conduct a phenomenological investigation of the parallels between drawing and writing as embodied, identifying how passive and physical acts as live event are significantly vocative.
  • To develop a methodology which plays upon the rebus scenario of drawing and writing which privileges four key arguments of debate phenomenology, embodiment, dialogue and Ekphrasis.
  • To ask if and how drawings ‘support’ or ‘form’ influences the process of marking by focusing upon the potential of digital and analogue formats.
  • To ask how the lexicon of drawing affects relationships with audience.
  • To share Ballycastle Vignettes as MP3 sound works and digital images on TRACEY Project Space.


Investigator: Deborah Harty

drawology seeks to explore the premise, ‘drawing is phenomenology’ through a practice-led methodology. In this context, the research questions asked: how can drawing and drawings evidence the movement of the drawer’s mind and body? How can drawings evidence their own making? To date there have been three iterations of drawology, with a fourth currently underway:

drawology (2013):a group exhibition at the Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, which sought to explore whether finished drawings could evidence the drawer’s decision making and bodily movements. Exhibitors were asked to consider the premise drawing is phenomenology and submit works they felt addressed this question. The exhibition featured the drawings of 22 artists and they represented an expanded field of contemporary drawing, which included: works on paper, performance, moving image, installation, projections and three-dimensional drawings.

drawology: one year on (2014): a group exhibition at Lanchester Gallery, Coventry, tracing the development of the work of the artists in the first drawology exhibition with the addition of three further artists. The project sought to extend the questioning of the premise drawing is phenomenology to focus of the process of drawing that had occurred in the year between the events.

Performing Drawology (2016): a ‘live’ drawing organised by humhyphenhum (Deborah Harty & Phil Sawdon) at the Bonington Gallery. To develop the ideas researched in the previous iteration of drawology, this event sought to make visible the process of drawing. Over the course of one month, artists were invited to spend a period of time in the Gallery creating lines, marks and tones that explored and responded to the space through a variety of drawing processes. The gallery space was approached as the drawing surface and visitors were invited to watch the drawing as it developed. Each artist spent a defined amount of time within the space and each was asked to respond to the space and the drawing undertaken by the previous artist. The result was a drawing in space that could be entered and experienced.

tracing drawology (2018- ): humhyphenhum (Deborah Harty & Phil Sawdon), the aim of this iteration of drawology is to develop the research undertaken in the previous three drawology phases. This stage is being facilitated and supported by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP), who have offered us access to various spaces within the park. In this sense tracing drawology is a speculative project without a defined end. However, it will attempt to extend the research undertaken during Performing Drawology, which used the Bonington Gallery space as the surface on which to draw, in an attempt to make the process of drawing explicit. tracing drawology will seek to extend this approach by considering how the drawing is affected when the space [surface] is extended by integrating and investigating aspects of the virtual.

Further details of the drawology project can be found online.

Staff members: Nick Aikman, John Atkin, Marion Arnold, Deborah Harty, Eleanor Morgan, Lorraine Young, Phil Sawdon, Tamarin Norwood.

Current PGR student members: James Bowen, Patrick Brandon, Jane Cook, Daniel Fountain, Martin Lewis, Serena Smith, Penny Davis, Kiera O’Toole, Yonat Nitzan-Green, Festus Adeyemi, Karen Sung.