The Big Draw 2014

Posted by Admin on 7 Nov 2014, 10:57 a.m.

‘Lovely event that we could all join in with as a family’

On Saturday 11th October Watts Gallery threw open the door to a day of drawing activities for the Big Draw.

The Big Draw is an international campaign to get people drawing. Every year museums, galleries and cultural institutions hold a day of free drawing activities for families. In 2013 Watts Gallery hosted the launch for the Big Draw in Guildford.

This year the theme was ‘It’s our World.’ Watts Gallery held a variety of activities for drawing enthusiasts of all ages. In the Gallery families were invited to take a drawing class led by a live actor in the role of George Frederic Watts. Families practiced their drawing skills at easels and were introduced by Watts to some of his favourite paintings and experimented with his favourite drawing materials. Mr Watts was a great success and really helped bring the history to life for the families.

‘Having a live ‘Signor’ Watts was a very clever touch. Our two loved it.’

The Watts Gallery Curatorial Fellow Dr Chloe Ward was also on hand to show a selection of original drawings by George Frederic Watts from the Gallery’s collection of nearly 800. A special highlight was a self-portrait thought to have been drawn by the artist at the age of only 14 years old. The opportunity to view Watts’s drawings is a rare treat as these are rarely displayed to the public. Dr Ward is currently researching the drawings in preparation for an exhibition on drawings at Watts Gallery in 2015.


In the Foyle Art for All Learning Studio Illustration artist, Ester Coombs led families in creating a large-scale fantasy map. Families were sent off to explore the Watts Gallery site to draw points of interest and then come back to the studio to turn all their drawings into a giant collaborative map. The map was made form tracing paper and could be suspended from the ceiling to allow the light to shine through giving the fantasy map a luminous glow.

Elsewhere on site, members of the Art Forum led an activity for families. The Art Forum is the Gallery’s youth panel. Young people aged 14-18 meet once a fortnight to write reviews, take part in projects and get sneak peeks behind the scenes of the Gallery. At The Big Draw they ran an activity they devised to get families engaged with the current exhibition Ellen Terry: the Painters Actress. Families were invited to help create a giant version of Watts’s famous portrait Choosing, currently on display in the Gallery. The painting was divided into small sections and participants were encouraged to draw their section on a piece of paper 3 times the size. The pieces were then all put together in the right order like a big jig-saw puzzle.



Participants used a large variety of materials to create their sections so the finished effect was a fantastic mixed media patchwork portrait.

‘It was really fun, and really messy and amazing!’ - Participant

The studio of Watts Gallery’s Artist in Residence, Jenny Jewitt-Harris was also opened to the public. Visitors were able to view her working space and see what she is currently working on. Jenny’s unique style combines detailed drawing, collage and photography inspired by the theme of time. Jenny holds a regular open studio on the third Thursday of every month from 2-4pm. The culmination of Jenny’s residency at Watts Gallery will be an exhibition held in the Old Pottery gallery in 2015.

Watts Gallery would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who came along and we hope you enjoyed it just as much as we did! Keep an eye out of Facebook and Twitter for more photos from the day.

We look forward to seeing you at The Big Draw next year! Or why not join us for the Watts Weekend on 6-7 December for festive fun, crafts and activities.

For information on more events and activities for families at Watts Gallery visit our events page. Or call the Visitor Centre on 01483 810 235.